Whether you're moving into a new home or looking to revamp your patio, there are multiple choices when it comes to the types of wood used for outdoor furniture. Based on your local climate, color preference, and desired ease of upkeep will help you narrow down which wood is best. We've researched the most common, best types of wood for outdoor furniture to ease your search.
The most common and best types of wood for your outdoor furniture include:
- White Oak
Each wood has its own range of characteristics in terms of durability, moisture and rot resistance, insect resistance, color and grain, and expense. We've compared these types of wood to be able to bring you the best bang for your buck. Read more below to prepare yourself on which type of wood will best suit your lifestyle.
Best Types Of Wood For Outdoor Furniture
Let's explore the various types of wood for outdoor furniture in greater detail.
Teak is a natural hardwood found in the South and Southeast Asia regions. Due to the time it takes for these trees to mature, teak availability is limited while the demand is high, which causes the price to spike. Being a hardwood, teak is less susceptible to dings and scratches and naturally deters termites and other insects.
This type of outdoor furniture has a low maintenance requirement, no oiling required unless personally preferred, and will survive harsh weather conditions. Teak color finishes tend to stay within tans and golds, making this wood a casual and easy-to-match furnishing.
Acacia trees grow in just about any climate and region, making the lumber widely available and affordable. Since these trees can grow in multiple places, the grain and color can vary from the territory it hails from.
While the wood is more wallet-friendly, the upkeep of this type of furniture is greater. Acacia furniture will need to be wiped down regularly and cannot be left wet or near hot temperatures due to its susceptibility to crack and warp. This type of outdoor furniture would fair best on a covered patio versus an open deck or garden.
Coming in at the most expensive but highly regarded type of wood, mahogany is a top-rated material for outdoor furniture. With limited zones for production and high shipping costs, mahogany furniture will cost you more upfront but last you for many years to come. This wood is durable, non-porous, with a tight-grain that prevents warping, splitting, and denting. The color is a signature rich red-brown that adds a lavish aesthetic to any setting.
Being such an adaptable tree, cedar grows on both the West and East coasts of the US. However, in terms of lumber, the red cedar variety from both coasts is the most used for building. Cedar is a naturally weather-resistant material, and besides, it produces allelochemicals that act as a bug repellant.
While putting a clear seal coat on cedar is optional, it will keep the wood from darkening due to sun exposure. The natural color of red cedar is deep honey with red hues throughout, and when topped with oil or a glossy sealant, the color becomes saturated and rich, bringing a warm, homey aesthetic to the table.
Similar to the origin of teak wood, shorea hails from southeast Asia. The best part of shorea? You get teak's high quality for a much more wallet-friendly cost due to this tree's plentiful supply. Shorea has a thick enough density and produces particular oils that make it moisture and bug-resistant, the perfect combination for outdoor living. Generally in lighter shades of tan, you can also stain and seal this type of wood for a richer color.
Offering a yellowish-brown color, cypress has been trusted for years for boat, door, and siding construction. However, there is one catch, cypress wood must be treated before usage by washing, soaking, and drying and then sealed. For most of us, buying pre-made cypress wood would be easiest, but if you're a do-it-yourself kind of person, then be prepared to wait before building.
Cypress is a moderately durable wood that holds paint well but has a more mild life expectancy of five to seven years and not recommended for constant ground contact.
Sustainable and cost-friendly, white oak is a favorite of barrel makers due to its non-porous characteristics. This will make a perfect addition to outdoor furniture for rainy climates since you don't have to worry about any warping or cracking.
White oak comes in a light brown color with a straight grain, but if you'd like to darken it, oil-based stains will work best, or you can leave it untreated as it fades to an enjoyable grey. The only downside to white oak for outdoor furniture is that it is not bug-resistant and can be a favorite of termites.
How long does wood furniture last outside?
Based on outside conditions and the care put into upkeep, high-quality wooden furniture can last up to 15 years or even more. By putting a little extra time into covering your furniture, applying oil or sealants, and bringing them inside during the winter or harsh summer, your furnishings can expand their life expectancy and save you from needing to replace them more often.
Should you use pressure-treated wood for outdoor furniture?
Pressure-treated (PT) wood means that the lumber has been put under pressure to remove the air within the grain and replace it with preservatives to prevent rot and bug infestation. An example of this would be the common picnic table as they're susceptible to all types of pest and weather conditions. In terms of the actual body makeup of PT furniture, cedar, pine, and spruce are the three most used types of lumber for this process.
Pressure-treated wood is only for outdoor usage and should never be used for cutting boards, countertops, or other high moisture surface settings. The preservatives are made up of a chemical mixture, including alkaline copper, copper azole, and chromium. The preservatives sit deep within the wood and should be sealed to prevent any skin irritation, especially if you have sensitive skin. It should be noted that treated wood is not meant to be burned since chemicals will be released in the smoke and ash, causing vulnerability to health hazards.
Eeco-friendly, Faux Wood Furniture
Zero-waste and upcycling are rapidly growing mindsets in today's market. Individuals want to buy items that are environmentally friendly and support smaller companies trying to make a change. While there is still a limited selection of eco-friendly wood, Polywood is an excellent alternative to harvested lumber.
Made from recycled high-density plastic, plywood furniture is durable in all seasons and weather. With no need to sand, paint, or seal, the required maintenance is low. Since it isn't technically wood, there is no need to worry about rot or bug infestation. One of the best things about Polywood? They come in so many colors! Perfect for outdoor spaces that need a little spice or pop of color, they'll bring personality to all your gatherings.
How do you make wood weather-resistant?
When outdoor furniture is labeled weather-resistant, it means that the wood has been sealed with a finish to guard it against normal sun exposure, wind, and rain. The coating protects the color of your furniture and helps slow surface deterioration. There are a few different options for furniture maintenance below.
Stains, primarily used for changing the color of wood, can also be beneficial. When applied to raw wood, the stain will seep into the grain and create a UV-light protective layer. It will also help your furniture become more water-repellent since the stain fills up more of the porous openings.
Best to be used over stains and sealants, also called varnish, is a clear coat applied over your raw or stained wood. Varnish acts as a durable outer coating to protect the wood from fading and keeping water from warping the surface. You can buy varnish at hardware stores such as Home Depot and Lowes. Before applying, make sure to put your furniture in a clean spot where it won't be touched and can dry for the time recommended by the brand.
Acting as a middle ground, wood oil can give you both a new stain color and wood sealant. The only downside is that varnishes cannot be used over oils. While it may not be as heavy-duty as varnish, oils will still cushion wear and tear but will require new coats depending on usage. Oils penetrate the wood to lessen the impact of warping and splintering. It is a cost-effective process but is not seen as the best choice for constant handling.
Outdoor furniture can bring family and friends together to enjoy each other's company while breathing in the fresh air. A range of elements goes into choosing which outdoor set is best suited to your home and environment. Aesthetic, endurance, and cost all factor into the buying process.
If this article helped you find the perfect furniture, but you still need a few styling tips? Check out some of our other articles about design and decor: