All Replies on best wood for outdoor furniture?

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View FredIV's profile

best wood for outdoor furniture?

by FredIV
posted 05-08-2012 05:25 PM

21 replies so far

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2479 days

#1 posted 05-08-2012 06:08 PM

It sounds like you’ve already got it narrowed down pretty well. I was looking at making some outdoor furniture a while back, and like you, I discovered that teak is obscenely expensive. Cedar would definitely be my choice. If humidity is a concern, perhaps an outdoor marine varnish would be in order. The kind used on boats should do pretty well for just furniture.

-- Brian Timmons -

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3103 days

#2 posted 05-08-2012 06:16 PM

Another option you might consider is White Oak. It can handle the outside elements fairly well and has a nice look to it. It is a bit more expensive than Cedar but much less expensive than Teak.

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View KenBry's profile


484 posts in 2441 days

#3 posted 05-08-2012 09:25 PM

Redwood if it’s near you.

-- Ken, USAF MSgt, Ret.

View AandCstyle's profile


3050 posts in 2251 days

#4 posted 05-08-2012 11:38 PM

I second the white oak suggestion. It makes beautiful furniture, ala Stickley (although I might be prejudiced in that regard :D) and it is used to make Adirondack chairs so you know it is rot resistant.

-- Art

View canadianchips's profile


2600 posts in 2991 days

#5 posted 05-08-2012 11:55 PM

I would stick with cedar.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Loren's profile


10373 posts in 3642 days

#6 posted 05-08-2012 11:57 PM

Cedar would be good. I’d use spar varnish on it.

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3264 days

#7 posted 05-09-2012 12:21 AM

There are several hard woods that can be used in this situation. The biggest damage to outdoor funiture comes from UV rays. Once these rays remove your protective finish….the other elements – heat/cold, damp/dry….will finish the work that the UV started.

That said, I have used walnut, maple, mahogany….etc..etc…for outside items with the caveat that I refresh the finish every 6 months to a year. I use a good penetrating oil finish as this is easier to apply and does not require re-sanding to apply (you can apply spar varnish over an old coat of spar…but the level of the finish will be unequal – this is because most UV tolerant finishes are made to flake away with contiuous UV exposure…this is so that the entire finish does not curl and peal away as non formulated interior finishes would). It is usually a very good idea to sand old coats of spar before applying a new coat.

My favorite outdoor funiture woods though are Redwood (1) – great stuff but can be expensive depending on the distance you are from California and Oregon. White Oak and Cedar (2) tied – both are awesome woods and both have their pros and cons. Mahogany (3) great outside wood – alot of wood boats are made from this and with new plantation woods – it is getting a bit cheaper to use. There are many more…but listing them would make this way to lengthy. Typically though, most hardwoods will work outdoors if you are diligent about keeping them oiled or finished…

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View treerecycler's profile


6 posts in 2203 days

#8 posted 05-09-2012 12:28 AM

White oak and cedar are good woods for this. For a finish I used a three part finish on my Potting Bench. It is made up of equal parts of tung oil, turpentine, and polyurethane. Keep it thin and let it soak in before wiping. Use as many coats as you like. It is very easy to touch up later.

-- Dave, Arkansas,retiree

View DamnYankee's profile


3301 posts in 2556 days

#9 posted 05-09-2012 12:38 AM


-- Shameless - Winner of two Stumpy Nubs Awards

View DamnYankee's profile


3301 posts in 2556 days

#10 posted 05-09-2012 12:41 AM

Honestly, all the woods mentioned above are good, but in the end they all grey/rot/ etc faster when not painted. A really good outdoor finish is to use exterior paint base paint without the tint added. The paint base has all the protective properties except the tint (tint blocks UV), but the other properties of the base paint does a pretty good job. Base paint without tint will dry clear even though it goes on kinda milky.

-- Shameless - Winner of two Stumpy Nubs Awards

View FredIV's profile


121 posts in 2384 days

#11 posted 05-09-2012 11:27 PM

Thanks for the replies and suggestions. Very insightful.

View patcollins's profile


1685 posts in 2859 days

#12 posted 05-10-2012 01:05 AM

Ipe, Black Locust, and Douglas fir are pretty good choices too.

View joebloe's profile


157 posts in 2288 days

#13 posted 05-10-2012 05:05 AM

I like cypress for outdoor projects.I’ve been getting rough cut cypress for $1.25 a board foot

View Bobmedic's profile


379 posts in 2796 days

#14 posted 05-11-2012 04:17 AM

Ipe or teak but they are expensive. Redwood and cedar are naturally durable woods as well as white oak.

View John's profile


190 posts in 3577 days

#15 posted 05-11-2012 07:49 PM


-- John, Long Island, NY

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4212 days

#16 posted 05-11-2012 08:05 PM

I think a lot of folks don’t have much experience with cypress, but it is an excellent outdoor wood. Cypress trees thrive in swamps, after all.

I live in New Orleans where there is lots of heat, rain, and humidity. I’ve had a cypress swing on my back porch for almost 10 years. I put some Thompson’s water seal on it when it was brand new, but I’ve done zero upkeep on it since then (other than wiping bird mess off with a wet rag now and then) and it is still in perfect condition.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3109 days

#17 posted 05-11-2012 08:30 PM

one of the expencive wood is also the best …thats teak since it have naturel oil thruogh the intire wood
though it turn grey outside if it isn´t taken care of
some like the silvergrey look others don´t
and when you consider how long teak furniture last under very harch wetherconditions
then you maybee wuold consider it to be cheap…. :-)
its not for nothing they use teak on boats
but if you only count on they shuold last about ten years then you can use everything
though you have to add paint/lack to the cost if you use pine ,fir , etc, etc


View patcollins's profile


1685 posts in 2859 days

#18 posted 05-11-2012 10:34 PM

I’ve always wanted to try cypress but I can’t find it here in Maryland.

View joseph05's profile


6 posts in 2029 days

#19 posted 11-05-2012 11:18 AM

The best wood for outdoor furniture will continue to remain strong and sturdy, even after season after season of being beaten by the elements – winds, rain, snow, ice, blistering sun and even the gloom of night.
The big three woods are Western Red Cedar, Northern White Cedar and Teak.
No matter which wood you choose, know that the best wood for outdoor furniture is one that will last for many years to come with little maintenance and no need to put it away for the winter.

View BentheViking's profile


1782 posts in 2558 days

#20 posted 11-05-2012 01:36 PM

I’ve used a lot of spanish cedar for windows and doors, probalby work well on outdoor furniture as well.

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View EPJartisan's profile


1118 posts in 3119 days

#21 posted 11-08-2012 11:30 PM

+1 black Locust.. doesn’t rot or decay, turns a beautiful silver if left un treated, won’t twist or bow with moisture, and is very hard and durable… but heavy.. really heavy.

-- " 'Truth' is like a beautiful flower, unique to each plant and to the season it blossoms ... 'Fact' is the root and leaf, allowing the plant grow and bloom again."

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