How to Build a Life Guard Beach Chair

Written by wendy strain
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How to Build a Life Guard Beach Chair
Build a lifeguard chair for use at the pool or beach, or to add an accent to your home. (empty lifeguard chair image by jimcox40 from

Lifeguard chairs are practical and decorative. Sitting at a higher level allows the person in the chair to see more of any nearby water. The size of the area to be watched will dictate, to some extent, the height of the chair you need. Any ladders or steps are built into the frame. Because they are common at beaches and pools, lifeguard chairs are associated with thoughts of summertime fun even when used as interior decor

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 2-by-4-inch-by-10-foot lumber (5 or more depending on height)
  • 1-by-4-inch-by-10-foot lumber (3 pieces)
  • 1 1/4-inch stainless steel wood screws
  • 3-inch stainless-steel wood screws
  • Carpenter's measuring tape
  • Power drill
  • Circular or hand saw
  • Sawhorse or other support
  • Level
  • Paint or lacquer (optional)

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  1. 1

    Choose wood carefully. Grade A teak is considered the best wood for outdoor use, but it is expensive. More economical choices that retain strength, resist rot and look good in aquatic settings include redwood, cedar, cypress and pressure-treated wood. For indoor use, look for quality grain, strength and colour.

  2. 2

    Cut two 24-inch and two 18-inch pieces of two-by-four. Use the 3-inch screws to connect these pieces into a rectangular frame, with the 18-inch pieces sandwiched by the 24-inch pieces.

  3. 3

    Determine chair seat height and add 7 inches for the armrests. Factors to consider for height include the water to be watched, glare potential and any city, county or state regulations. A seat height between 42 inches and 48 inches works for most applications. For a 42-inch-high seat, cut four lengths of two-by-four measuring 49 inches each to make the legs.

  4. 4

    Make a mark 7 inches down on each leg. With the frame at the level of the mark and the legs on the outside, use 3-inch screws to attach the legs at the corners on the shorter side. Angle the legs by at least 80 degrees so that the base is wider than the top. The 7 inches above the frame will be used later for the armrests. Cut these horizontally level for a neater finish.

  1. 1

    Determine how many steps or rungs are needed. Occupational and Safety Health Administration guidelines require rungs to be placed at least 10 inches and no more than 14 inches apart. The top step will serve as a footrest for the person sitting. For a 42-inch seat height, two steps are made -- one placed 13 inches from the bottom and one at 26 inches. Mark these points on each leg and build one step for each level.

  2. 2

    Measure the distance between legs at each corresponding mark. For the two side pieces, add 4 inches to the measurement. Cut four lengths of two-by-four to these measurements for each step.

  3. 3

    Attach one two-by-four to the outside rear legs of the base lined up with the mark made earlier. Make sure the board is horizontally level and the ends are flush with the sides.

  4. 4

    Attach the two side pieces to the inside legs. Make the back end even with the back of the chair and brace the top of the boards against the bottom of the back piece. There should be 4 inches sticking out in front.

  5. 5

    Attach the last piece to the top of the side pieces in front so that the broadest edge offers a flat stepping surface.

  1. 1

    Cut one-by-fours into five 24-inch pieces for the seat of the chair. Fit them between the armrests and centre them across the frame from front to back. Screw in place with the 1 1/4-inch screws.

  2. 2

    Cut one-by-fours into seven 24-inch pieces and one 32-inch piece. For strength, you may opt to use two-by-four for the 32-inch piece and one of the 24-inch pieces.

  3. 3

    Line the six pieces of one-by-four side by side with the ends even. Place the 32-inch piece 9 inches from one of the cut edges with 4 inches to either side. Screw in place.

  4. 4

    Attach the remaining 24-inch piece along the back edge of the seat surface.

  5. 5

    Cut 24-inch armrests using either one-by-fours or two-by-fours and attach to the top of the leg posts. Make the front even with the front edge of the seat, with the remainder toward the back.

  6. 6

    Position the seat back so that the extending inches of the back bar rest against the top of the armrests and the bottom edges of the five boards rest on the seat surface just in front of the 24-inch bar. Screw into place. Paint or lacquer the completed chair if desired.

Tips and warnings

  • Give the chair more aesthetic appeal by rounding the boards at the top of the chair back or staggering the lengths of the boards. For example, cut the boards to 24 inches, 25 inches, 26 inches, 25 inches and 24 inches.
  • Wood can weaken in wet environments. Use strong wood and paint or varnish for added protection.

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