DIY Lounge Chair with Adjustable Back


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March 21, 2024
Zoe Hunt

What better way to relax and enjoy the outdoors than with an outdoor lounge chair? This DIY lounge chair has 4 positions for the back rest, making it comfortable whether you want to sit or lay. Whether you’re sitting by the pool or out in the yard, let’s build you a modern lounge chair you’ll love. 

DIY outdoor lounge chair with adjustable back sitting in front of lake

Alright, let’s dive in and start DIYing! 

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How to Build an Outdoor Lounge Chair with an Adjustable Back

Recommended Tools:

Shopping List: 

  • (4) 1x4x8s (we used common board) 
  • (4) 1x6x8s (we used common board)
  • (2) 2x2x8s (we used furring strips) 
  • (4) 2x3x8s (we used untreated pine) 
  • (2) 12” stainless steel piano hinges 
  • Wood glue (this is our favorite type and it’s great for outdoor projects) 
  • Wood filler (we use this one, but be sure to check out our wood filler experiment to decide which might be best for your project) 
  • Sandpaper (80 and 120 grit)
  • 2.5″ softwood Blue-Kote Kreg screws
  • 2” exterior nails
  • 3” exterior wood screws
  • 2” exterior wood screws 
  • Optional: cushion

A quick note about wood choice: we used regular, untreated pine for this project. Cedar would be a better choice for longevity, but pine was a better fit for our budget. Be sure to read this post before using pine on an outdoor project.


This DIY lounge chair is 79 3/8” long x 25 1/2” wide x 10” tall. The height is when the back rest is down and does not include the height of a cushion. 

DIY lounge chair 3D rendering with dimensions next to image of the completed lounge chair in front of a lake

The complete cut list is available in the printable plans


To assemble the base, we used glue and 2.5” Kreg screws in pocket holes. 

Attach a leg to each side of your long stretchers. The top of the leg should be flush with the top of the long stretchers. Repeat with the second long stretcher and the other two legs. 

Now attach the short stretchers to one of the sides you just assembled. There should be two stretchers attached to each leg, one at the top and one at the bottom of the leg. The pocket holes on these should be facing out. The pocket holes will be covered by slats later on.

You could also attach these stretchers with 2.5” wood screws instead of using pocket holes if you prefer. The gaps between the slats are so small that you likely won’t see the pocket holes, but the pocket hole does fall between two slats. 

Place the next stretcher 46.25” from the front of the chair and then place two more stretchers between this stretcher and the legs. 

base on DIY lounge chair assembled with pocket holes


Before securing the bottom slats, we recommend staining the sides of the slats. The gaps between the slats are very small, so it will be nearly impossible to properly stain or paint the sides of the slats after assembly. 

Cut a scrap piece of wood at a 45-degree bevel cut to use as a guide on where to install your top slats. The angled side of the bottom slats will overhang the front of the chair to create a waterfall edge with the pieces that will be attached to the front of the chair later. 

If you aren’t comfortable working with angles, that’s okay! You can use straight cuts instead. You’ll just be able to see the end grain of either the top slats or the vertical slats. 

Secure a 1×4 slat so that the side is approximately 1/16 – ⅛” from the side of the base. Secure using glue and 2”nails. Secure the second 1×4 slat so that it’s 1/16 – ⅛” from the other side of the base. 

installing top slats with a brad nailer

Note: we actually tried to install ours flush with the sides of the base so that there wouldn’t be a gap between the slats and the frame that we’ll add at the end. As I was installing the back though, I realized that I needed to make the back slightly smaller to be able to lift it up and now my gaps on the sides would not be straight all along the bottom. So, if I were to make it again, I would install the slats 1/16” – ⅛” from the side of the base as mentioned so that my gaps would be straight all the way down my lounger. 

Before nailing in your 1×6 slats, mock up the spacing. We used a steel square as the spacer between our boards. We added a piece of tape around it to bulk it up just a little bit to get it to fit just right for our pieces. 

Before nailing on the slats, you’ll also want to stain the gaps between the boards. We opted not to stain the entire board before attaching the slats because wood glue works best when it’s applied to raw wood rather than wood that has already been stained or sealed. Because this is an outdoor project, the wood glue is extremely important to help prevent the pieces from warping over time. 

using steel square as a spacer between slats

Secure your remaining slats with wood glue and 2” nails. We added 2 nails into each of the stretchers that the slat covered. 


For the back, you’ll want to bring your make sure that there is enough room on either side of it to comfortably be able to lift it up. We recommend an ⅛” gap or more between the sides of the back and the frame that you’ll add at the end. If you don’t leave enough of a gap, your back piece will be hard to move up and down and may scrape the sides of the chair as it’s lifted. 

If you installed your top slats ⅛” from the side, you can line your back slats on top of the slats you just installed. If you installed your slats flush with the sides of your frame, you’ll want to place the two outside slats in slightly to allow your backrest to freely move. 

Unfortunately we don’t have any pictures of this step. The printable plans have 3D renderings to clearly show the layout!

Line one of your 2x2s up with the bottom of your backrest slats. Secure it to the slats using glue and 2” wood screws. If possible, add 2 screws into each slat to help prevent warping over time and to prevent the slats from sliding out of place. 

Install your second 2×2 up 3.25” from the top of the slats. The middle slat is shorter than the other slats to give you a way to lift up your backrest. 

Now install the middle 2×2 according to the printable plans. Since this one is shorter, it won’t span to the two outside 1x4s. 

Free download wood sizing cheatsheet


Next we’re going to assemble the section of the backrest that will actually hinge and “lock” the back into place as well as the notches that the backrest “locks” into. The back rest is adjustable to 4 different positions.

chaise lounge chair with adjustable back displayed in all 4 back positions

Let’s start with the notches. You’ll see 5 blocks on our board, but after testing multiple options and hinge designs, we realized that you only need 3. Apply a layer of wood glue to each of the blocks, pushing it into the end grain. 

This first layer of wood glue will help “clog” the end grain so that it isn’t quite as absorbent. Gluing end grains isn’t the strongest because end grains are so absorbent and just suck the glue right up. After letting that first coat dry for about 5 minutes, add a second coat of wood glue to the end grains and clamp them in place at the positions laid out in the printable plans

creating slots for adjustable backrest

I tried to add a nail to these pieces to help hold them in place, but the first block split in half when I tried nailing into it, so I decided to rely just on wood glue instead. You can also add some screws for further security after the glue has dried if you are concerned about the wood glue holding up 

Now to assemble the backrest bracket. We will use glue and 3” wood screws for this.  

Secure your vertical supports so that they are 3.75” in from the top board. Then center up the bottom board on the vertical supports and secure with glue and 3” wood screws. 


Secure the adjustable back bracket to the back of your chair using a piano hinge. The bottom of the backrest bracket will line up and be placed on top of the middle 2×2. 

installing piano hinge

Then slide the bottom of the backrest so that it’s lined up with the end of your bottom slats. Secure them together using a piano hinge and the provided screws. 

installing piano hinge on adjustable backrest

Install the notches to the inside of your chair using glue and 2.5″ wood screws. It should be placed 1 1/2″ from the top of the structure so that the backrest can rest on it and still be flush with the rest of the chair. Yes, the bottom will overhang beyond the 2×3, but that’s okay.

installing slots to inside of lounge chair with a screw


Now that the back is installed, we can install the remaining slats using glue and 2” nails. All of the remaining slats will be installed so that the slats look like they continue and wrap around the chair. Install each of your slats so that they are in line with the previously installed slats. 

We continued to use our steel square as a spacer while positioning these boards. 


Now we will add the final boards to cover up the visible 2x3s and really complete the look of this DIY lounge chair. To install, we used glue and 2” nails. 

nailing frame to sides of chair

Cut three pieces for each side, the short pieces will be cut at a 45-degree angle on one side while the long piece will be cut at a 45-degree angle on both sides. Line the short pieces up so that the side is flush with the front of the front waterfall slats. Line the long piece up so that it’s flush with the top of the top slats. 


Now that the chair is ready to go, it’s time to prep your chair for a finish. It’s very important to finish your project with an exterior grade stain, paint, or sealer. We used Cabot Solid-Stain in Desert Sand for this project. 

DIY lounge chair before staining

Before applying the stain, we filled any nail holes with a stainable wood filler and then closed up any gaps along the waterfall mitered edges using the screwdriver trick that we used for this DIY floating beam.

After letting the wood filler dry, we sanded everything with 120 grit sandpaper before staining. We had a LOT of nail holes to fill because we tried multiple different placements and hinges for the adjustable back before deciding on our final positions.

filling nail holes on adjustable lounge chair

As we mentioned earlier, we did stain the sides of the slats before installing them. 

There you have it! Now you know how to build a beautiful DIY lounge chair that’s perfect for sitting outside in the grass or by a pool!

DIY adjustable lounge chair with backrest up looking at lake

Enjoy it as is or add a cushion for even more comfort.

adjustable lounge chair with lake in background
DIY adjustable lounge chair with blue cushion sitting in front of lake

If you’re ready to start building, be sure to grab the printable plans!

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