So many people have fond memories of warm summer afternoons enjoying a breeze in their aluminum folding lawn chairs.
Even if you don’t, there’s a timeless cool that comes with these retro outdoor seating options.
These chairs are coming back in style, and they’re coming back with a big price tag.
These chairs used to be dirt cheap, but they now cost an arm and a leg.
Here’s why aluminum lawn chairs are getting so much more expensive than they used to be.
Why Are Aluminum Lawn Chairs So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
1. Cheaper Alternatives
If you’ve been shopping for lawn furniture choices, you’ve seen those white plastic lawn chairs.
However, did you know they have a name?
Those ubiquitous, stackable, simple plastic chairs are known as monobloc chairs.
We know they were first designed in Italy, but beyond that, monobloc plastic chairs have something of a mysterious history.
They first appeared on the scene in the 1960s which was only about a decade after the arrival of those legendary aluminum lawn chairs.
The aluminum chairs were built to last a lifetime.
They were designed shortly after WWII in America when materials were scarce and companies still made products that were built for life.
Monobloc chairs had one major advantage over their aluminum competitors: money.
Plastic chairs sometimes cost as little as a dollar today.
With the cost of aluminum lawn chairs being so high, monobloc chairs slowly took over.
This left aluminum chairs on the sidelines.
With fewer of these chairs in production, costs went up until they all but vanished into the realm of garage sales and memories.
The original aluminum folding lawn chair was made by a WWII pilot named Fredric Arnold.
The former fighter pilot wanted to create a durable, dependable, and portable chair.
These chairs did so well that they’ve even started to make a comeback.
The original aluminum folding lawn chair was designed to be a utilitarian piece of furniture for the everyman.
It wasn’t designed to be a sought-after piece of designer lawn furniture.
They were dependable and affordable.
Things are a bit different today.
Aluminum lawn chairs have made a big comeback.
They’re much sought-after collectibles and pieces of vintage nostalgia.
People talk about these lawn chairs in the same breath as they talk about mid-century modern aesthetic.
With their short supply and status as vintage collectibles, these chairs have become difficult to find.
This has also driven up the price.
There are only a handful of small companies in the United States left making these foldable aluminum lawn chairs.
This means that you’re going to pay a premium for handcrafted aluminum lawn chairs rather than the intended price of something much more affordable.
3. High Build Quality
One of the things that made these lawn chairs so reliable in the first place was their incredibly high build quality.
These chairs are outstandingly durable and stand up to everything from hot summer weather to being used by the entire family year after year.
This kind of quality is a little difficult to replicate in an age defined by plastic furniture.
It’s much harder to get the raw materials, shape them, and get them to market when compared with the plastic competition.
The shift from high build quality to plastic build quality made things cheaper to make and faster to sell.
However, it did make it harder to start building higher-quality lawn furniture again.
Now that they are back in fashion, a lot of the old shops are no longer around.
This means that a lot of cost goes into making these chairs.
This might trend back down over time if aluminum chairs keep getting more popular.
However, they will retain designer prices as long as they are designer items.
4. Low Maintenance
Another factor that plays into the price of aluminum lawn furniture is just how little low maintenance and durable they are.
Monobloc lawn chairs are designed to be disposable and thrown away once they’ve gotten too much use.
They also tend to twist, fall apart, and grind down much quicker than aluminum lawn furniture used to.
Aluminum lawn chairs are designed to sit out on your porch for years while plastic lawn chairs are designed to be replaced every few years.
Just like with most other things, you’re paying more upfront for long-lasting build quality with aluminum lawn chairs.
5. They Age Better
Aluminum lawn chairs also age much better than their plastic rivals.
This drives up their costs because people know that they are going to be buying something that will look just as good 20, 30, or even 50 years down the road.
Plastic lawn chairs age very poorly.
They tend to discolor, warp, and become rough to the touch.
It’s also nearly impossible to repair a plastic lawn chair that’s started to fall apart.
Aluminum lawn furniture is now seeing a second life as a retro furniture choice for people who want the rugged, bygone look.
They know that aluminum lawn chairs will stand the test of time and, in today’s economy, that commands a premium price.
6. Brand Reputation
By now, you’ve probably picked up on the legendary reputation of aluminum lawn chairs.
We’ve all got nostalgic memories of jumping into, or even on, one of those whether it was the Fourth of July or tailgating.
They stood up to generations of regular use, and that’s something that consumers haven’t forgotten.
There’s a new trend that’s bringing back the nearly forgotten age of “Buy It For Life” products.
Anything retro that had a reputation as being a one-time purchase is starting to see a comeback as a designer alternative to the disposable products of today.
Everything from vintage Thermoses to long-lasting boots is returning to shops as lifestyle brands.
Rugged and dependable, these pieces of furniture fit right into a consumer base that is looking to bring back the glory days with the brands of old that haven’t been on the shelves in years.
7. More Flexible Design Choices
These aluminum chairs also have a few style advantages over plastic chairs.
Those plastic lawn chairs essentially have just one style with a few different color options.
This is really limiting when it comes to putting together what your lawn is going to look like.
You are stuck choosing between a few high gloss color options when you could be designing something that fits your style needs exactly.
Aluminum lawn chairs are incredibly interesting when it comes to their simple design.
It’s just a highly dependable aluminum frame with some nylon webbing to support whoever is going to be sitting down.
That nylon webbing can be any color or combination of colors that you need it to be.
You can get aluminum folding chairs in the colors of your favorite sports team, colors that represent your nationality, or even just a favorite color combination.
You can design them expressly for working with how you want your lawn to look rather than getting stuck picking whatever is at the store.
You’re paying more for getting more flexibility when it comes to style.
The economy has been changing and even the humble folding chair can’t escape this reality.
These chairs are just another victim of the growing inflation that is shaping how we shop and how much we spend.
Costs are rising across the board for consumers.
Grocery costs are a great way to measure the general inflation of prices.
The cost of groceries in the US rose just over 8% from 2021 to 2022.
If these price increases are hitting essential goods like food, you can bet they are also hitting those niceties like folding lawn chairs.
You’re paying way more than what your great-grandad did when he bought a set for the backyard.
We can also look at the relative buying power to see how much lawn chairs would have cost back in 1950.
Using the CPI inflation calculator from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, we can see how much we would have spent back in the heyday of aluminum folding lawn chairs.
Today, you can find yourself spending upwards of $80 on an aluminum folding lawn chair.
That same eighty dollars today was just over $6 back in 1950.
That’s a loss of $74 worth of relative buying power.
One of the reasons lawn chairs are getting more expensive is simply that everything is getting more expensive.
The rising tide of inflation and lowering buying power has swept up the humble lawn chair.
9. Price Of Raw Materials
It’s not just inflation that is increasing the cost of aluminum lawn chairs.
It’s also the cost of raw materials.
Aluminum is in the name, and that means we’re going to need a lot of it to make a few chairs.
The cost of aluminum is nearly at a 20-year high.
This means that everyone who uses aluminum also needs to pay more for raw materials.
Companies are going to be passing those rising material costs down to the consumer through higher costs on the price tag.
You probably felt the increase in the cost of raw materials and other areas where you shop for aluminum.
Aluminum foil, for example, has gotten particularly expensive over the last few years as the cost of this raw material has gone up.
Plastic chairs are everywhere.
One writer from the Smithsonian even noted that they found plastic monobloc chairs everywhere in the world that they looked.
This might be leaving people wishing they had an alternative to the dominant style.
Nostalgia is a huge driving factor when it comes to buying these retro purchases.
The aluminum lawn chairs conjure fond memories of simpler days and long summer nights.
It’s just another style trend that has been riding a wave of retro popularity that is bringing back everything from classic music tastes to fashion choices.
Aluminum Folding Chair Buying Guide
Shopping for an aluminum folding chair can be a little tricky.
This is a retro piece of lawn furniture that’s making a comeback, and that means people have plenty of questions about how to buy the right one.
Here’s our buying guide that’s going to show you the four most important things that you can look for when buying and up a folding aluminum lawn chair.
1. Go For Quality
The first thing you want to look for when buying a folding metal lawn chair is quality.
If you get the right chair, this is something that you can pass down to your great-grandkids.
Part of the reason that these chairs have come back in style was that they were built to last in the first place.
This means you want to look for a chair that has a sturdy construction.
You shouldn’t be able to bend the aluminum with your bare hands and the webbing should be nice and tight even after it’s been sat on for a minute.
Speaking of webbing, you want to make sure that it’s made out of a fabric that won’t lose its color in the sunlight.
Check with the manufacturer to make sure that it’s made out of colorfast nylon that won’t start to fade a few weeks after you buy it.
2. Pick The Right Colors
You should also look for the right colors when you’re shopping for an aluminum folding lawn chair.
You might be used to those plastic lawn chairs that only came in two or three color options, but now you can choose just about any color you want.
If you can’t find the color options that are right for you, you can even find replacement webbings for your aluminum folding lawn chair.
These let you mix and match your colors and pick anything that the manufacturers have available.
3. You Can Pick Budget Options
One of the best things about aluminum lawn chairs is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money.
It all comes down to what you want to prioritize.
You can still find aluminum folding lawn chairs that are fairly affordable.
These will cost around $20 per chair, and they are typically made overseas.
They have a slightly lower build quality, but the design of the aluminum lawn chair is so simple that it’s hard to mess up even on this type of budget.
The cost goes up from there depending on your needs.
Aluminum lawn chairs that have been machined by hand here in the United States are going to demand the highest prices.
You’ll also be getting the highest quality and a much better customer service experience.
Aluminum lawn chairs are one area where it’s safe to save a little bit of money and not worry about the quality dropping off too much when you buy on a budget.
4. Shop Second-Hand
It might be tempting to buy a brand new lawn chair when you’re shopping for aluminum lawn furniture, but you should consider shopping second-hand.
The frame of the aluminum lawn chair is designed to last for years.
These chairs aren’t going to rust, and they’re built to stand up to decades of weather.
This means that you can buy one second-hand without worrying about getting something that’s low-quality.
If you buy a second-hand aluminum lawn chair, you might need to do some cleaning up.
You might have to buff out some scratches and apply some lubricant to the joints.
You could also change the webbing if it’s starting to fray or sag.
Once that upkeep is done, you’ll have a refurbished vintage aluminum lawn chair at a fraction of the cost.