Trees stand around outside all day long, so aren’t they all weatherproof? It’s a facetious question, but it does lead to the subject of this post: why isn’t all wood suitable for building outdoor furniture? The truth is that once they’re parted from a living tree, all woods react differently in the wild of your backyard or front porch. When asking which natural woods work best as outdoor furniture, consider the following facts and suggested types of wood for your personal projects or for purchasing patio furniture!
Some Woods Are Better Than Others
Before we begin, let’s differentiate between the two main categories for wood—hardwood and softwood. While you may think that all woods would be considered hard, the designations have less to do with heaviness and solidity than with where the wood comes from. Hardwoods are from deciduous trees, trees that shed their leaves in autumn. Hardwood comes from maple, oak, mahogany, birch, and many other trees. Softwood comes from conifers—trees that retain their needles year-round. Softwood can come from pines, spruce, cedar, and others. Hardwoods tend to be harder and denser and take longer to grow. Softwoods are comparatively softer and grow somewhat more quickly.
So, Which Is Better for Your Backyard Furniture?
Overall, hardwoods are better for hardy and hand-made outdoor furniture. Hardwood, with its greater density, strength, and resilience, tends to be the better choice. Its toughness and durability help it resist extreme temperatures, water (whether through rain or other sources), and rot. Teak is a classic hardwood for handmade wooden outdoor furniture and a long-time choice for outside furnishings because it brushes off dirt, water, and sunlight. Wood-chewing bugs tend to avoid teak as well. Because of its resilience, however, teak can be costly. Fortunately, there are other more affordable woods that hold up well outdoors. Oak is another fine choice, though it may need additional treatment to last longer outside.
Don’t Discount Softwoods
Cedar is a lovely, nice-smelling wood that does well in an outdoor environment. It’s very light, making it less of a strain to move. It also naturally resists rot, which is invaluable in wetter climes. As for the pleasant scent, we may love the scent of cedar, but bugs hate it as well as the resin it sometimes emits. As such, you’ll worry less about infestation. Cypress also offers protection and aesthetic appeal to handmade wooden outdoor furniture, resisting rot and bugs as well.
A Little TLC Can Help Any Wood
When asking which natural woods work best as outdoor furniture, don’t forget that with proper treatment and upkeep, most outside furnishings can last well past their supposed expiration date. Keep your items clean by occasionally wiping them down with a damp cloth and mild soap. Teak wood furniture, of course, can be treated with teak oil. Oil soap is also good for keeping your wood patio furniture looking good and in great shape!