What is the Best Wood for Outdoor Furniture [All You Need to Know]

Best Wood For Outdoor Furniture

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Are you thinking about furnishing your outdoor area? First, you need to know about the best wood that will stand the test of time.

If you are looking to build outdoor furniture yourself, it is essential to find the right wood to use. Wood furniture on patios, like benches have a unique appeal and are very versatile. Moreover, using a high-quality finish will help you enhance the durability of the furniture and increase its lifespan.

Although there are dozens of wood types you can use, knowing the right one can make all the difference. Consider the climatic conditions of your area, budget, and the purpose of use before selecting the right one for your needs.

In this guide, we will tell you everything you need to know about the various types of wood for outdoor furniture. Furthermore, we can help you pick the right one for your home.

So, without further delay, let’s begin.

Best Wood For Outdoor Furniture

Hardwood Vs. Softwood

Best Wood For Outdoor Furniture 1

Before we delve into the various wood types you can use, let us tell you about the difference between hardwood and softwood. Although hardwood is more common as it is durable and resistant to scratches and cracks, softwood has its place in outdoor furniture.

Before choosing the right wood for your outdoor furniture, consider the diversity of natural elements in your environment. These include sunlight, rain, snow, sleet, dirt and dust, pollution, and fungi.

Due to the slower growth time of hardwoods, they are more robust and dense, making them ideal for outdoor furniture. That said, certain types of softwoods are suitable – as long as they are durable, low maintenance, and rot-resistant.

Types Of Wood For Outdoor Furniture

  1. Cypress

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Cypress is a softwood that is typically popular in wet climates due to its high rot resistance. It releases a natural oil known as cypressane, which makes it highly resistant to rot, rain, and pests. Moreover, this natural oil has preservative qualities that enhance its lifespan.

That said, cypress wood can be slightly expensive as it isn’t abundantly available in maturity. A foot of cypress wood board can cost anywhere from $4 to $6. When measured on the Janka scale, the Leyland cypress measures 430 lbs, while the Australian cypress can measures up to 1,360 lbs.

If you choose this wood type for outdoor furniture, be careful not to over-sand it as it is susceptible to denting. Furthermore, it is advisable to pre-drill any required holes on its edges before assembling it; otherwise, it may split or crack.

Since it is very easy and comfortable to work with, especially with glue and nails, most DIY’ers and woodworkers choose it for outdoor furniture. Ensure that you use high-quality, oil-based stain along with a clear protective sealant to increase its lifespan. Using the right stain can also enhance its natural light shade while protecting it from mildew.

  1. Teak

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When it comes to outdoor furniture, almost everyone instantly thinks of teak wood. This is one of the most common choices, not only because of its unique aesthetic appeal but also its waterproof and pest-resistant features.

The biggest advantage of using teak is that you can leave your furniture outdoors worry-free, no matter what the climatic conditions are. Typically, teak wood is extremely durable and doesn’t attract dirt. What’s more, it is also rot and insect-resistant, making it ideal for the outdoors.

If you’re worried about fading due to harsh UV rays, don’t be. Teak wood is sunlight-resistant as well, so you can leave your furniture uncovered in the sun without worrying about fading, stains, and marks.

That said, keep in mind that teak can be expensive. However, it is a good investment as it lasts for decades without much maintenance, retaining its look and appeal over the years.

  1. Cedar

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Although Cedar is a softwood, it is highly rot-resistant and durable, which makes it capable of withstanding extreme climatic conditions. You will find various varieties of Cedar which are available for $2.25 to $6 for a board foot.

Depending on your color preference, you can opt for amber shades or deeper, warm brown tones of Cedar. The best feature of it is how low maintenance it is. If you don’t maintain Cedar, it will slowly fade from its original shade and reach a beautiful silvery hue, which is extremely aesthetic.

Another thing to know about Cedar is its moisture retention properties. This enhances its life and durability, making it less prone to cracking and splitting. Moreover, it contains resins that deliver a soft and pleasant aroma when cut.

Its inherent properties make it highly resistant to rot, termites, pests, and insects. The Janka scale measures 320 lb f for the light Northern White Cedar and 900 lb f for the more robust Eastern red Cedar.

Keep in mind that its supple characteristic makes it extremely easy to cut and saw. However, this softness also makes the wood prone to denting, so you must be extremely cautious when handling it. You don’t need to apply a top coat of paint or stain to protect it from moisture and other elements, making it relatively low maintenance compared to other woods.

That said, Cedar contains an element called tannins which is prone to bleeding into top coats. As such, you must apply a stain-blocking primer (ideally oil-based) before painting the wood.

  1. Iroko

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Iroko, also known as African Teak, is a species that is very similar to Teak wood in terms of characteristics. However, appearance-wise it is slightly different and has a unique, grainy, or textured appearance.

Iroko wood is a good choice for outdoor furniture primarily due to its high content of oil. This gives it natural rot and moisture-resistance properties while providing added durability to enhance its lifespan. Moreover, it is naturally resistant to pests and insects and typically requires less maintenance than other types of wood.

Its unique color and aesthetic appeal make it a popular choice of wood for outdoor furniture. Although it is imported, you may be able to find it at moderate prices depending on its availability. Adding teak oil as a sealant or stain can enhance its durability and make it more resistant to sunlight and pests.

  1. European Oak

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If you are looking for wood with an inherently unique shade and impressive durability, you can’t go wrong with European Oak. In fact, this wood species is one of the most favored types for homeowners as well as woodworkers.

Its golden brown shade is warm and pleasing to the eye, while its serrated texture won’t go out of style. Furthermore, outdoor furniture made of European Oak is typically robust and durable.

That said, it is imperative to take measures to protect your European Oak outdoor furniture. Ensure that you keep it covered when it isn’t in use; otherwise, you may find unpleasant surprises like the fading of its beautiful color due to sun exposure or pollution.

Moreover, it is advisable to treat it occasionally to enhance its life and keep it safe from natural outdoor elements.

  1. Black Locust

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If you are looking for a hardwood species, consider the popular Black Locust. This species is native to North America, grows rapidly, and is extremely robust and resilient. It is ideal for outdoor furniture because of its hardness and superior resistance to weather and climatic conditions.

That said, Black Locust can be challenging to work with due to its grainy texture and superior strength. If you measure it on the Janka scale, it comes to a massive 1700 lb f. Those who plan on building outdoor furniture themselves may not find this to be the easiest kind of wood to work with. In fact, cutting or sawing through Black Locust wood can be substantially challenging.

This wood is so robust and rigid that even repeated hacks with heavy tools are not enough to chop through it easily. Furthermore, you may find yourself stuck with blunt tools after trying to saw through this deeply rigid wood.

As for its looks and texture, this wood has a straight grain texture and can be found in deep brown shades or paler, greenish shades. Typically, a Black Locust board foot is available for as low as $1.50. However, depending on the type and quality, you might find some priced at $5 a board.

Although sawing this wood is challenging, it is very easy to glue together, nail, and assemble. Furthermore, there is little risk of over-sanding it due to its rugged, heavy texture.

Those wondering about its weather-resistance capabilities can rest assured. A substance called flavonoids contained in its inner wood (also known as heartwood) gives it superior resistance to several elements. As such, you can keep this wood outdoors without worrying about sun damage, termites and pests, heat, snow, rain, and fungus.

  1. Redwood

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Those who don’t mind spending a little more on valuable wood that looks and feels luxurious can consider Redwood. This wood species is popular as outdoor furniture because of its unique appeal. You will find lots of knots and grains on its surface, which gives it an excellent texture.

Moreover, this wood is available in a range of shades – from deep reds to light pinks and several shades in between. That said, it can be quite expensive due to the shortage of Redwood trees.

You can expect to find a board foot of Redwood for $2.25 on the lower side and $10 on the higher side. However, many consider it to be worth the price because of its excellent qualities.

To begin with, Redwood is exceptionally resistant to shrinking or forming warps on its surface. It is relatively resistant to moisture and pests, but it is best to use a sealant to protect it further. Also, it measures 450 lb f on the Janka scale, which means that it is not extremely robust and will not hold nails or screws very well.

That said, don’t let this information dissuade you from opting for Redwood, as it is still a magnificent quality wood for outdoor furniture. Those planning on building their own outdoor furniture will find this wood easy to work with as it is soft, cuts easily, and holds together well with glue or nails.

  1. Acacia

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One of the most abundantly found wood species is the Acacia. A board foot of Acacia can cost anywhere between $2 and $6. However, a unique aspect of its looks (and also what it’s most popular for) is its interlocked grain pattern. This pattern is rarely found in other wood species, making Acacia an extremely coveted wood for outdoor furniture.

A crucial feature to know about this wood is that its Acacia mangium species measures 1100 lb f on the Janka scale. But, the Acacia cambagei measures a massive 4270 lb f, making it exceptionally robust and durable.

Those DIY’ers who plan to use Acacia wood for their outdoor furniture must be wary of this, as this wood is known to blunt even the most formidable tools. That said, it holds together relatively well with nails, screws, and glue.

Although its unique curve grain pattern enhances its visual appeal, keep in mind that you may find it harder to sand. Inherently rich in oils (which protect the wood from pests, insects, and climatic conditions), it is best to apply a sealant or protective coat on Acacia.

Doing this will protect the outdoor furniture from moisture, rot, pests, and harmful UV rays. The most vital thing to remember about this wood species is that it is extremely prone to rotting without a protective sealant. If you aren’t using the furniture for a while, be sure to cover or store it safely.

Best Wood For Outdoor Furniture 3

How Can You Protect Outdoor Furniture?

Now that you know about some of the best wood types to work with, you may be looking for tips on protecting outdoor furniture. Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered with some informative tips.

  1. Finish It Well

One of the most essential aspects of good outdoor furniture is its finish. If you are building it on your own, making sure to sand it correctly can make a lot of difference to its lifespan. Moreover, it is best to use a high-quality sander to do this; otherwise, you may end up with uneven wood, which will eventually flake or crack.

Use either paint, primer, or varnish to finish its surface once it is complete. Adding paint or primer can help you achieve a distinct shade or hue if you like that look. However, using proper protective measures like stains or sealants is imperative unless you want to end up with faded furniture.

  1. Regular Applications

To maintain the appeal and finish of your furniture, it is vital to reapply sealants or other protective coats. Doing this once a year or once every few years (depending on the type of wood) is optimal. Without this, you run the risk of damaging its beautiful appeal.

  1. Proper Storage

Whether it is summer or winter, storing your outdoor furniture incorrectly can be the cause of its decreased lifespan. Although several wood types are exceptionally resistant to sunlight, snow, rain, and pests, it is best to store furniture correctly to avoid premature wear and tear.

Covering the furniture with a cloth or plastic can be enough to protect it. However, if you don’t wish to keep outdoor furniture covered, you can choose to push it under the porch or an awning to protect it from natural elements.

Should You Use Wood For Outdoor Furniture?

With several options to choose from, you may be wondering why wood remains an ideal option for outdoor furniture. To begin with, the visual appeal and aesthetics of pure wood furniture are incomparable. Various wood species come in beautiful shades of pink, red, brown, and green, giving you adequate options to choose from.

Furthermore, wood is an extremely eco-friendly option compared to the various others in the market. Processing wood requires relatively less energy, and there is minimal wastage.

Opting for local wood can help you save money, as imported wood can often turn out to be expensive. Moreover, most local wood will be weather-resistant and hold up well even without fancy treatments.

Finally, one of the most important reasons why people choose wood for outdoor furniture is its durability. In most cases, outdoor wood furniture can last for decades with proper use, making it a friendly investment.

Wooden sofa and chair with outdoor patio

Final Words

Depending on certain vital factors like your local climate, where you plan on keeping the furniture, and budget, the choice of wood may vary.

Moreover, consider whether you want to opt for treated or untreated lumber first before purchasing. Those who plan to make their own outdoor wood furniture may need to consider the rigidity and ease of sawing certain kinds of wood. However, if you purchase wood furniture, our guide can help you make the most suitable choice.

We hope you enjoyed reading this, and if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below. Hope you find the right wood and furniture to beautify your outdoor area.

Until next time!

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Anna Vaughn

Anna Vaughn

Anna Vaughn | Art Contributor

Anna is a highly motivated self-taught painter and design aficionado that loves pouring her passion into words here on Homesthetics; in her free time she runs The Little Painters, a small local painting workshop for children that invites the little ones to explore painting through simple and creative means in a safe, loving and extremely colorful environment.

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