There are many choices of suitable woods to use for outdoor furniture. Those that last the longest and stand up to the most extreme punishing weather conditions share similar characteristics. In addition, they tend to be woods that are particularly attractive while being low-maintenance for the owners.
Qualities That Make the Best Wood For Outdoor Use
Hard woods with straight grain tend to resist moisture. This is especially important in wetter climates. Dense woods tend to prevent moisture from penetrating the structure; this is helpful in restricting the bacterial growth responsible for promoting rot and disease undermining the integrity of the wood. For most woods, chemical compounds provide a rot-resisting solution that will save them. For some woods, natural chemicals fight the bacteria, bugs and other offensive elements that aid decomposition. Overall, it is important to select a type of wood that will withstand year-round weather changes.
Top Wood Types for Outdoor Furniture
The definitive choice of wood for outdoor furniture by far is cedar. Insects are turned off by the natural aromatic scent, which is what makes this wood an ideal choice for indoor furniture, hope chests, boat building and house siding. It is surprisingly lightweight, has attractive grain qualities with knots and cracks while still lasting better than 20 years without splitting, rotting or warping. The white cedars eventually develop a silver-grey patina. Choose from Western Red, Northern White or Eastern White.
Cypress, Teak, Native White Oak
These are all long-lasting hard woods resistant to decay, twisting, cracking or warping. They are low maintenance dense woods that can be oiled to bring out their characteristic grains. Their natural ability to repel moisture, insects and rotting make them classic outdoor wood choices for durable furniture.
As a footnote, native white oak was the choice of building material for Old Ironsides, herself. The USS Constitution still sails to this day and she is quite the sight to see.
Most often pressure treated, pine is the ubiquitous, low-cost building material used for everything from furniture, to decking, to pool enclosures, to trellises and other outdoor structures. Another great advantage is how plentiful the supply of pine is at the local lumberyard.
Acacia, or locust, is a moderately heavy, dense wood possessing variable grain patterns. Of such long-term durability, these fence posts are often found still standing well after the fence has disintegrated.
Eucalyptus is a plentiful plantation-grown hardwood that is kiln-dried for a high-quality timber that is remarkably solid. Another dense rot-resistant wood with high oil content repels water and moisture.
China fir is a durable, fast-growing evergreen used throughout China for a whole host of construction. A great value, this easy-to-use, straight-grained pale yellow wood is suitable in both wet and dry conditions.
It is advisable to protect outdoor furniture during the seasons when not in use. Furniture covers will extend the life of and keep surfaces smooth and clean on outdoor furniture that will be ready for immediate use as soon as the warm weather beckons.