Modern Outdoor Chairs-Easy to Build and Affordable

June 24, 2021

Hi! I'm Nicole

Fearless DIY. Sharing building project tutorials and interior design tips. Let’s build something beautiful together. For more projects, design tips and behind the scenes, follow me @designtobuild.nicole

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Modern outdoor chairs! These sturdy and heavy-duty chairs are great for a patio or deck!

What is the most popular building project on my blog? This one! Right here! Modern outdoor chairs! And who can blame you? This is the easiest, most functional project plans I’ve drawn up. What do people say they like most about them? They’re solid! Not going anywhere–no matter how bad the weather gets.

White chair with striped cushions and blanket

Want the warm soft blanket above? Here’s the link!

I built my first pair of outdoor chairs a couple summers ago and am happy to say they have held up great! To withstand northern Indiana winter weather, speaks volumes to their durability. Which brings me to the other most asked question, in reference to this project….What wood and paint do I use? I might get some frowns from you “true” woodworkers out there, but I use Pine wood for all of my outdoor furniture builds. Why? 1.) I’m not patient! I can’t wait the recommended time to hold off on paint or stain. I want it done NOW! 2.) It’s cheaper than treated wood. So, how do I ensure it will hold up to the outdoor elements? Poly! Poly! Poly! I use a good quality poly (3-4 coats) and have had great success in durability. My favorite polyurethane is General Finishes High Performance Topcoat.  (It is a bit on the spend-y side, but the quality makes up for the cost).  Oftentimes though, my go-to is Varathane Satin Exterior Poly. And if you want the best of both worlds: Apply 2-3 coats of Varathane first and make your last coat General Finishes. That will set your mind at ease and your furniture will hold up great outdoors. As for paint….totally up to you! If you have a good poly, you can choose whatever paint you like. 🙂 (Amazon Affiliate Links)

I chose Rustoleum Linen White Chalk Paint for my modern outdoor chairs…(Amazon Affiliate Links)

outdoor chairs made of pinewood

So, let’s head on out to my shop (a.k.a. garage 🙂  ) and build a couple modern outdoor chairs….


These chairs fit 22×24 cushions. My cushions are no longer available, however, here is another similar option…

Threshold DuraSeason Fabric Cushion

Seat of chair sits at 11.5″ tall WITHOUT the 6.5″ cushion added.

Materials Needed (to build two chairs):

4 – 2x4x10

2 – 2x4x8

6 – 2x6x8

1 – 2x2x8

Tools Needed:

Miter Saw

Drill    (Amazon Affiliate Link)


Wood Glue   (Amazon Affiliate Link)

2 1/2″ Screws  (Amazon Affiliate Link)

Important Note: Plans are based on TWO chairs being built

Step One:

First, I made my cuts…

2x's cut for project

Cuts needed:

8 – 2×4’s @ 22 1/4″ (Legs)

12 – 2×6’s @ 25 1/2″ (Side Slats)

4 – 2×4’s @ 28 1/2″ (Arm Rests)

8 – 2×6’s @ 22″ (Front and Back Slats)

2 – 2×4’s @ 22″ (Top of Back)

4 – 2×2’s @ 22 1/2″ (Inside Cleats)

10 – 2×4’s @ 22″ (Seat Slats)

Step Two: Build legs

Using your drill and 2 1/2″ screws, attach 3 side slats into each leg (as shown below). I used a 3/4″ board in between each slat to keep them separated….

2x4 attached to 3 2x6's

Side slats will be flush with back of 2×4 legs…

2x4 attached to 3 2x6's standing up

Repeat this 4 times for 2 chairs…

4 chair legs and armrests

Step Three: Add armrest

Drill 2×4 armrest onto each leg….

2 legs and armrests for chairs

Step Four: Build back of chair

Using a board to balance, attach each of your 2×6 back slats (3 of them) to each chair…

outdoor chair being built. Sides and back being added

These should be flush to the end of the side slat boards (as shown below)….

Back being added to modern outdoor chair

Use a clamp to keep your boards tight. My clamps belonged to my grandfather back in the day, therefore, I was unable to link the exact same ones. However, here’s one very similar. And here’s one a little less expensive, but will still get the job done. (Amazon Affiliate Links)

Step Five: Add front slat

Flip chair over and use board to balance: attach front slat, flush with bottom side slat…

modern outdoor chair turned upside down

Your chair should now look like this…

frame of modern outdoor chair

Step Six: Add Supports

Attach 2×2’s (inside cleats) at the top of the bottom side slat 2×6 (as shown in the two pictures below). The easiest way to do this is to turn the chair over on its side and attach the 2×2. Then flip to other side and attach the other 2×2. This provides a support for your seat slats to sit on….

Supports added to frame of seat

Supports added to seat

Step Seven: Add Seat Slats

Attach five 2×4 seat slats (evenly separate each one). AND add 2×4 (top of back). (See “Cuts Needed” list above for reference)….

chair built out of 2x4's and 2x6's

There you have it! Two modern outdoor chairs…

two modern outdoor chairs

Ready for paint and cushions.


Perfect for entertaining or that coveted quiet morning time…

sideview of outdoor chairs on deck with striped blue cushions

And the best part–so affordable….even with the crazy price of wood!

modern outdoor chair with plants

And for fun-a nighttime view…

Night time view of sitting area on gray deck with a cute coffee table between two chairs


outdoor chairs on a deck

Before we wrap up, here’s one more quick question I get asked a lot…How do we store our modern outdoor chairs over the winter months? (And yes, we get snow!!) We actually cover ours with a tarp on the deck. Just one more defense from the brutal winters we can get up here.

Until next time,

Happy Building, Friend!!

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Other great outdoor posts:

Craftsman Garage Doors-Get the Look Without All the Costs

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