If you are planning to buy patio or garden furniture, it makes sense to understand which is the best wood for outdoor furniture so that it lasts long.
To get the most out of the outdoor space, homeowners choose outdoor furniture with care. You would have to ask yourself what you want to use the garden for more: perhaps entertaining, relaxing or some quality family time? Maybe, all of them from time to time. So what kind of outdoor furniture would you go for? Furniture can be made from a variety of materials, but wood furniture is hard to beat for its shear warmth and beauty. But which is the best wood for outdoor furniture? This will need a lot of research and hotfooting from store to store. Here’s a look at some durable woods for your outdoor projects.
Types of wooden furniture for outdoors
Cedar: Cedar is an excellent choice of wood for outside furniture for your garden as it is decay-resistant and will therefore last long. It can also be left unfinished. Over time, it will weather naturally to a beautiful silver-gray. Being lightweight, it is great when used for pergolas and arbors or other such garden structures. It is also easy to cut and stick well with glue. It works well with nails and screws.
Redwood: Redwood, like cedar, resists decay and is durable as outdoor furniture. Its rust-red color is very appealing but is not easy to get, thus making it expensive. It is easy material to cut, fasten and stick, making it a carpenter’s delight. It looks beautiful whether you let it weather naturally or apply a coat of finish to preserve its natural color.
White oak: Traditional oak is not a good choice for outdoor furniture, but its cousin, white oak is a great choice. Among the best wood for outdoor use, white oak is dense, but it is also durable and sturdy. It is light in color and has a grain pattern quite similar to traditional oak. To preserve its natural color, it’s best to finish it or it will have a dark brown or black look. Though expensive, it is difficult to cut, shape and is not a delight to work with where carpenter’s tools are concerned.
Douglas Fir: If you’re thinking of applying a natural stain or finish to your wooden patio furniture, then go with cedar, white oak or redwood. However, if you choose to paint your furniture, you’ll do well to go with Douglas fir. Though it is similar in appearance to pine, yet it is more decay-resistant, making it ideal for garden furniture. Being softwood, however, it cuts and fastens easily. It also sands smoothly and accepts paint well. On the whole, it’s a good choice, but its drawback lies in its difficult availability. On the flip side, it’s not more expensive than pine but costs more than cedar.
Acacia: If you are environment-conscious, you would reach out for acacia. These trees grow in large measure in many parts of the world, so acacia furniture is easy to find. Not only is the wood of these trees dense but it is also sturdy and durable. Its rich, golden color can be further enhanced if you seal this wood. It is rich in oil, giving it a lustrous finish, and can withstand the elements, insect pests and the possibility of rotting. It is best used for patio, deck furniture or for flooring the interiors, since it might discolor if it is in constant contact with wet garden soil.
How to pick high quality wooden garden furniture
There’s a wide range of outdoor wooden furniture you can bring into your garden and transform its look. Using wooden furniture gives your outdoors a sophisticated look, depending on how you display it and the ambience it creates. There are many kinds of good quality wood to choose from based on the following parameters:
Style: Take the look and plan of your garden into consideration before choosing your furniture and match it accordingly. If your garden already has dark colored accessories, use dark colored wood, like mahogany.
Quality: Do you plan to keep your outdoor furniture through the year? If not, you should think of a storeroom for it too. But if you do, choose wooden outdoor furniture that ages well and can withstand the rigors of every season. A few wood types that can stand adverse weather are teak, acacia and eucalyptus, so go with any of these.
Cost: What you ultimately choose would largely depend on your budget, so bear your budget in mind while choosing.
Size: How much space do you have in your garden for furniture? Chairs, benches and dining tables come in all shapes and sizes, so measure out your free space before investing in furniture.
Function: What are your needs for outdoor furniture? Will your garden furniture serve as extra seating for when you throw summer parties? If you intend hosting parties for small groups of people, buy small tables for food and drinks and wooden benches and comfortable chairs for your guests.
With these few tips on selecting good quality wooden outdoor furniture, go out and buy what suits your garden and your needs.
What to consider when choosing hardwood for your exterior projects
Natural wood or hardwood is an excellent choice for adding texture and warmth to your garden ambience. Though timber is usually chemically treated so that it doesn’t rot, yet there are certain kinds of woods that are naturally highly resistant to rot and can be used outdoors without chemically treating them.
The main deterrents to keeping wooden furniture in the outdoors are overexposure to sunlight, moisture in the air, insects and fungi in the garden, each causing some measure of rot. Therefore, it is important that you choose rot-resistant wood.
When you plan to buy lumber for your outdoor project, consider these factors:
Impact of exposure to weather and sunlight
If the wood you choose for your external project isn’t chemically treated, it will crumble in adverse weather, turn gray and crack or warp. When sunlight beats down on your furniture, it will begin to fade and its grain when not maintained or when left bare will also die.
To keep your wooden furniture looking like new, you should use a UV blocking finish or a top coat that prevents the ill-effects of harsh sunlight. It has been found that as dark woods age with overexposure to the sun, they lighten and as light woods age, they get darker.
When humidity increases, wood fibers absorb the extra moisture in the air and try to be on a par with the environment. When wood reaches the Equilibrium Moisture Content (EMC), it is considered stable. During the time it takes to be stable, it moves and swells.
When humidity falls and the air dries, the wood tries to equalize again. As water recedes from the wood fibers, the wood begins to shrink, resulting in twisting, end- checking and surface-checking, cupping ad crooking. As moisture changes continue, these defects are increased.
The wood’s resistance to decay
To protect your furniture from decaying, keep it dry. Decay originates from fungus that needs a humid environment to live in and bring damage to its environment. By getting rid of the following, fungi will be eliminated:
- Good oxygen supply
- Temperature ranging from 32°F-90°F
- Moisture exceeding fiber saturation point (greater than 25%-30%)
- A suitable energy and nutrients source or the kind of wood
To reduce the chances of fungus, it is best to choose hardwood that is highly resistant to decay.
The method of finishing, treating, or top coating the finished product
Since overexposure to sun and water are bad for wood, it can be protected by giving it UV protection and using water repellants. High resistance woods like Ipe, Massaranduba and Cumaru may have a natural gray weathered appearance, but it will be maintenance-free and chemical-free for several years.
If hardwood is used, you will have to give it a coat of exterior finish and maintain it.
If you keep your furniture dry and well maintained, its life will be extended. However, there are some woods that have a high resistance to decay, while others don’t. On the whole, if you keep your furniture out of ground contact and away from humidity and decay, it can look like new for long.
Few more tips on best wood for outdoor furniture
Woods that can be used for outdoor furniture are many, so it would be difficult to say which is the best wood for outdoor furniture. However, only those that survive the most grueling weather conditions are those that stand the test of time. Here are some leading wood types for your garden furniture:
Teak: Teak is highly recommended for outdoor furniture for several reasons. First, it is beautiful and remains so forgenerations. When you buy it it’s a honey brown and over time, it ages into an elegant silver grey. In either color, it can complement any outdoor space and lend class to it. Next, it does not rust when in contact with metal.
It is also weather-resistant. It can repel water, prevent it from cracking, becoming brittle or warping. It can also face adverse weather without reducing in strength. It repels garden pests, borders and termites, so you’re safe with this furniture in your garden. Teak flooring is an excellent choice.
It neither needs paint nor varnish because it is so rich in oils that when it fades to a silver grey, it won’t look blotchy or patchy. You might have to sandpaper it occasionally, though. For these reasons, you find them in classy homes, ski lodges and parks and gardens dating back to decades and still looking beautiful.
Cedar: By far, the best choice for outdoor furniture, cedar leads because its natural aroma puts off the garden pests. Besides, it is lightweight has distinctive grain and can go on for 20 years without warping or rotting. It ages gracefully by developing a silver-grey look.
Cypress, Teak, Native White Oak: These types of wood are also highly resistant to twisting, warping, cracking and decay. They are also easy to maintain and if boiled, you can see their distinctive grains. They fight moisture and insects, thereby keeping the possibility of rotting at bay and are therefore good choices for outdoor furniture.
Pine: This is low-cost wood for, among many items, garden furniture. It is often treated for pressure, is easily available and is therefore a good choice for outdoor furniture.
Maintenance: Good quality wooden furniture can be maintained to extend its appearance and long life by first of all applying exterior finish, varnish, epoxy resin, sealants or paint, as necessary. When maintaining your furniture with paint, remember that the best paint for outdoor wood is semi-transparent oil stain that is good for fences, gazebos and arches.
However, there are other ways of maintaining your outdoor wooden furniture, such as:
- Before spot testing chlorine bleach or any other abrasive powders, do not clean your furniture with them. Be experimental with such products.
- Lightly sand your furniture if it develops mold. Begin by wearing gloves and get rid of expired products that might spread spores.
- For protection from dirt, moisture and ultraviolet rays, seal the wood, clean the furniture and scrub with sand paper. Lightly paint where necessary and finish with a water-repellent preservative containing a stain or chemical that gets rid of mildew or mold.
- Cover furniture when not used with cloth covers.
- If your furniture is unfinished and is aging gracefully, rub lightly with sandpaper to take off any fuzzy grain and restore its smooth look.
Why people choose wooden outdoor furniture:
There are several benefits of having wooden furniture in your outdoors, such as:
- Wooden furniture can be part of any garden and is designed to be strong and durable.
- Since it doesn’t retain heat, it won’t heat up in the summer.
- It’s inexpensive to maintain, but it needs treatment against water damage and warping.
- As it ages, it looks better.
- It is versatile enough to be stained, wax treated or painted in any color.
Considering different woods come with different characteristics and benefits, it would be difficult to point to any one wood type as the best wood for outdoor furniture, but cedar and teak are recommended.