Wood is a beautiful material, making it a popular choice for outdoor furniture besides wicker, metal, stone, and concrete. Out of the hundreds of wood varieties available, only a few of them are durable enough for outdoor use to be able to withstand drenching rains, sun rays, as well as temperature and humidity changes. It must have some natural resistance to rot and insect infestation.
Here are the best types of wood that are suitable for outdoors:
Teak has everything you’re looking for in wood for used for outdoor furniture. It resists rot, doesn’t warp or crack over time, repels water, and looks better as it ages. It has straight grains that has an attractive golden luster, which weathers into a beautiful silver-gray patina over time. It’s the king of all durable woods, sturdy enough to be passed down to the next generation. Teak also doesn’t need a lot of maintenance, except for the occasional cleaning and sanding. That’s mostly the reasons why teak is a popular choice for outdoor furniture.
The secret of teak lies in its tight grain and natural oils. The oils act as water repellant and extractives to deter insects and pests. Its stability doesn’t make it shrink or expand due to humidity changes, so there’s less likelihood of cracks – which ultimately attracts moisture that causes insect and fungi damage. It’s a well-known durable wood, as it was chiefly associated with boat building in the older times. It makes a great investment that comes with a premium price.
True teak is scarce and is very expensive, as it’s often associated with the destruction of sensitive rainforests. Because of this, people find ways to imitate teak using other woods. Look for sustainable, plantation-grown teak or genuine Burmese teak to make sure you’re getting the real thing.
For those concerned about sustainability, acacia makes a great choice. Acacia is very abundant in all parts of the world, making it one of the most affordable wood options. It’s a dense, thick and durable hardwood with high oil content, making it resistant to rotting, water, and environmental elements.
Acacia has a light brown to reddish brown color. If you seal it, it becomes a rich, dark, golden brown wood. Once you started to seal this wood, you need to seal it annually with a clear protective coat to ward off insects, moisture, rot, and warping. If left unsealed, it must not be placed in the grass or ground, as constant contact with the damp ground can cause the wood to discolor and eventually rot. To make your acacia furniture last the longest, keep it on your porch, patio, deck or anywhere with solid flooring.
3. Black Locust
Black Locust is a strong, stiff and rugged domestic wood that is highly stable and resistant to rot. It is a very durable wood with good weathering characteristics, offering better longevity as outdoor furniture. Dents, scratches, and gouges are unlikely to show in this type of hardwood. The flavonoids in its inner wood make it able to weather even in extreme heat, cold, water, fungus and termite infestations, even if it’s not stained or painted.
However, because of its hardness, Black Locust can dull a hand saw or a chisel. Its high density makes it a bit difficult to machine, so if you’re planning to DIY furniture using this wood, cut carefully and conservatively to save your tools from being blunt. While its tight wood grain keeps it from absorbing moisture, it’s also a bit resistant to absorbing oils, stains, and other finishes, leaving you with fewer options on how you can finish it. But nevertheless, it’s a beautiful, pale green to dark brown wood that can stand on itself even without the help of wood stains.
A popular type of wood from the West, redwood makes fine outdoor furniture pieces because of its great reddish brown color, durability, and natural resistance to moisture, decay, and insects. Redwood is also well-preferred because it is stable, weathers really well, and doesn’t shrink nor warp in the face of moisture and heat.
This wood can be protected or enhanced by a coat of sealer. It really begs to be coated because if left unsealed, it can stain clothing with the natural tannins it produces. Redwood is also more of an extravagant choice of wood because redwood trees grow slowly and are in limited supply. It’s not a great choice for the ecologically-minded. Redwood is also a relatively soft type of wood, making it at risk for scratches and dents. But because it’s soft, it’s easier to sand and cut, and it holds well with glue.
A type of lightweight softwood, cedar boasts of elegant hues ranging from amber to rich brown, featuring straight and occasional knotty grains. When left untreated, cedar weathers into beautiful a silvery gray. It also paints and stains well, making it a great choice of wood for those who would like their items to match their house or other furnishings around.
Appearance aside, cedar has rot- and insect-resistant qualities, especially those ones native to North America. Cedar is commonly used for roofing, fences, and siding, so it means they can last for years without any treatment or maintenance. Its lightness in weight also makes it a great option if you’d be moving the furniture more often. The supple quality of cedar, however, makes it vulnerable to dents and scratches.
Cypress may be the softest wood in this list, but it’s still a great option for making outdoor furniture. It has enough natural oil content to resist water, rot, and insects. It’s a stable wood that shrinks and swells very minimally throughout the change of seasons. Also, its lightness in color and gorgeous straight grains make it very appealing as outdoor furniture. Because of these, the stain you choose and the direction of grains will really pop when you coat cypress.
This type of wood can also withstand elements without any coating or finish of any kind, and it weathers to a silvery gray over time if left unfinished. However, a periodic coat of oil is recommended to keep the wood looking fresh for long, preserving its natural color and beauty. Cedar can be easily cut and assembled, but it’s prone to denting and over-sanding.
7. White oak
White oak is widely used in making furniture, cabinets, as well as interior trim, veneer, and flooring. It’s the type of wood that is suitable for all types of furniture, whether indoors or outdoors. It’s a strong and hardwood that is easy to work with and naturally resistant to rots.
Historically, white oak has been used a lot in boats, sailing ships and barrels, thanks to its waterproof abilities. However, it doesn’t have enough oil content to resist moisture as strongly as teak and requires to be stained, painted or protected with a water-resistant sealer to be suitable for outdoors. If left unfinished, it’s best to be placed in a protected outdoor area such as a porch with roof, where it can weather to a gray patina over time.