Are you looking into buying a nice set of wooden furniture or are you feeling more adventurous and searching for some wood to make your own?
No matter which category you fall into, it’s very important to choose the right kind of wood for outdoor use. This is even more important if you would like your furniture to survive outdoors in all weather conditions.
Let’s look into which wood is the best option for you:
What is the best wood for garden furniture?
If you’re in a rush, go for teak. Teak wood is naturally weather resistant which makes it ideal for outdoor use. It will last even longer if properly cared for. If you don’t like the look of teak wood or find it too expensive, you can also consider any type of wood in the list below.
Before you start buying wood, however, make sure you know the difference between soft and hardwood.
Hard vs softwood
Hardwood doesn’t actually mean the wood is physically harder than softwood. The term hardwood has more to do with the type of tree the wood comes from. Deciduous trees like teak, mahogany and oak that lose their leaves in winter are generally referred to as hardwood trees. Hardwood trees also grow much more slowly than softwood trees like elm and fir.
Hardwood is generally the better quality wood when it comes to outdoor furniture. A good quality hardwood should have a close grain. The closer the grain the more weather, rot and insect resistant the wood will be. This is due to the high level of natural oil that these woods contain as well as the density of the wood.
Softwood on the other hand mostly belongs to evergreens like fir, elm and pine trees. They grow much faster than most hardwood trees, making them less dense and more susceptible to water damage and rot. Fortunately, softwoods absorb finishes and oil much more readily than hardwood which can seal them quite nicely making them last about just as long as hardwood if treated properly.
Now that you know what hardwood and softwood are, let’s take a look at the best types of wood for your outdoor furniture.
The best wood for outdoor furniture
If you want your garden furniture to last a long time, consider the following wood types:
1. Teak (hardwood)
Teak is a great wood for outdoor furniture due to being naturally weather-resistant and very durable. Unfortunately, this wood is very popular which can make it quite difficult to get hold of. Some of its popularity is due to its natural pest repelling properties thanks to its natural oils.
Teak also looks great when sealed and polished. This makes it very popular for use in beachside furniture since it doesn’t swell or shrink as it gets wet and dries. Teak is very durable due to its tight grain and natural oils.
2. Cedar (softwood)
Cedar is well known for its durability, rot-resistant qualities, and lightweight. It is a great wood for low maintenance outdoor furniture. This wood is ideal for areas with lots of rain and snow since it won’t crack in the presence of moisture if properly treated. You’ll also be unlikely to find many insects near your furniture since the natural oils in the wood have insect-repelling properties.
This wood also stains well which makes it ideal if you need to match it to existing furniture. Just make sure to give it a proper finish to prevent the grain from becoming course and getting damaged over time. Fortunately cedar ages well turning a silvery grey colour. Just be aware that cedar can dent and scratch easily despite how durable the wood is.
3. Eucalyptus (hardwood)
Eucalyptus is a fast-growing hardwood tree that won’t break the bank. It’s not the best wood for outdoor furniture since it’s not naturally waterproof or pest and rot-resistant. If you decide to go with this wood, you’ll need to do regular maintenance and protect the wood from the worst weather conditions.
If your wood is properly treated it won’t warp. Keep up with the maintenance and your wood may last as long as teak at the fraction of the price.
4. Mahogany (hardwood)
Mahogany is an attractive wood that comes in many different colours. It is quite costly and needs a lot of maintenance to keep its beautiful colour but it’s definitely durable enough to use outside.
Like pine, mahogany darkens over time creating an excellent look on old furniture. This wood is readily available due to how fast it grows despite being a hardwood, making it an excellent substitute for teak.
5. White oak (hardwood)
White oak is a beautiful wood that will last just as long as teak if treated properly. It was originally used to build boats due to its natural resistance to water and rot. If you want to make it last even longer, it needs to be properly oiled and painted. This is an excellent wood for use in wet climates
6. Brazilian walnut (hardwood)
Brazilian walnut, also known as ipe or South American ironwood, is a great wood for outdoor furniture that will be exposed to a lot of sunlight. This wood is resistant to fading as well as insects and rot. Due to its durability, Brazilian walnut is great for use outdoors but it can be tricky to work with.
Unfortunately, this wood is very heavy and barely floats due to its high density. This is not a good wood to choose if you need to move your furniture around a lot.
7. Cypress (softwood)
Cypress is an excellent wood for wet climates due to its natural water-repelling ability. It is also mostly rot-resistant, but should never be left in direct contact with soil for long periods of time. It is easy to work with but quite costly due to being quite rare. This wood is a softwood but traditionally it’s been grouped and manufactured alongside hardwoods.
Cypress is highly pest resistant and resistant to rot as long as it is kept off the soil. If you want to enhance its durability, you will need to oil it every now and then. If left untreated, your wood will lose its natural colour, turning a silver-grey colour but it is less likely to swell and warp than other wood. If you want to prevent the wood from fading, apply a sealant yearly.
8. Acacia (hardwood)
Acacia is a very common wood since the trees grow readily and quite quickly. For this reason, acacia wooden furniture is quite cheap. It is an excellent wood for outdoor furniture due to its durability.
Acacia does need a proper sealant to prevent rotting and like cypress should be kept on a patio where it won’t be in direct contact with the soil. This wood was originally used for shipbuilding making it a great option for any type of woodwork.
9. Redwood (softwood)
Redwood is one of the most expensive woods out there due to its rarity. This wood makes excellent outdoor furniture due to its durability and beautiful colour. Redwood needs proper sealing if used as furniture, however. Unsealed redwood gives off a red pigment that may stain clothes.
10. Shorea (hardwood)
Shorea is a genus of trees that includes over 200 species. These 200 species of trees can be further divided into 5 timber groups. This makes them more readily available than teak which in turn makes them cheaper.
They do, however, have other similar properties to teak such as being pest, water and rot-resistant. Shorea is easier to bend and work with when exposed to heat. Heat makes this type of wood more flexible. It will need regular oiling and sealing to make it suitable for very wet climates.
What is wood finishing?
If you want to make your furniture last, you will need to finish it properly. This means that you’ll need to sand it until it is smooth and then paint it with a sealant. You can use varnish if you’d like to bring out the wood’s natural colour or a primer and paint if you want to paint the furniture a distinct colour.
The whole point of a finish is to protect the wood against weather damage and fading. If you want to revive an old piece of wooden furniture, you can stain the wood to bring back the colour.
Wooden furniture care and maintenance
Your wooden furniture will require a bit more care to keep it looking brand new. It is best to reapply sealer at least once a year to keep the wood from getting damaged by wet weather and the sun. If you can, also keep your garden furniture inside during winter and rainstorms.
If you don’t want to do a lot of maintenance, consider hardwood furniture over softwood furniture. Hardwood is more durable and naturally pest, water and rot resistant, unlike most softwoods. There are always exceptions of course so don’t judge the wood without doing some research first.
Most wooden furniture will age well, turning silvery-grey in colour. It looks quite stunning but if you want to keep the original colour, make sure you oil and seal your furniture properly before it comes into contact with any weather conditions.
What is the most durable wood for outdoor furniture?
Teak. This wood is durable, waterproof and insect resistant without being treated. It was once used for shipbuilding and can handle all kinds of weather conditions.
What is the longest-lasting outdoor furniture?
Wrought iron furniture. It is the most durable, longest-lasting furniture which, if maintained properly, can last a lifetime.
What wood is naturally waterproof?
There are quite a few species of trees that have naturally waterproof wood. Some of them include teak, white oak, cedar, redwood and mahogany.