What's the best wood to use outdoors

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Forum topic by cbMerlin posted 11-17-2009 04:10 PM 10472 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View cbMerlin's profile


100 posts in 2455 days

11-17-2009 04:10 PM

I was luckily enough to be driving by a Graters (Ice Cream Shop – with almost a cult like following) as they were discarding several park benches they used for outdoor seating. I got 3 of them. The wood was in pretty bad shape but my wife has mentioned she would like a park bench outside so I figured I could just replace the wood in the frame. The frames are some sort of very heavy metal, almost no rust, did I say very heavy! Two side frames to mount the wood onto and a back insert frame of sorts.

My question is what type wood I should use; hold up the best, look the best, ect. Oh yea, and with the least maintenance. I’ve thought about 5/4 treated board to match my deck but I’m not sure.

Also, I’m only going to be using one of the frames so I have two up for grabs. If anyone in the Pickerington/Columbus Ohio area is interested, I’d love to give them to a fellow LJ. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll try to get a picture of the frames posted here if you’d like to see them.

-- Sawdust looks better in the garage than cars, explain that to your wife!

12 replies so far

View MedicKen's profile


1607 posts in 2497 days

#1 posted 11-17-2009 04:17 PM

Either Ipe or Teak. Both are very expensive. Another less expensive alternative would be WHITE oak

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View Chris Wright's profile

Chris Wright

539 posts in 2516 days

#2 posted 11-17-2009 04:28 PM

You could also go with Trex, that stuff will never warp, splinter, rot or discolor. If you want to go with real wood, then just about any South American hard wood will do. Brazilian Cherry (or Jatoba if you want to be technical) would be good and probably not as expensive as the ones MedicKen mentioned.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

View neverenoughtools's profile


10 posts in 2251 days

#3 posted 11-17-2009 04:48 PM

I used to live in Columbus and do miss Graters. I would be wary of a Trex-type material as the material needs to be supported probably more than the bench will give you. Teak is probably the best choice but at $15-$20 per board foot it is out of reach for many. Ipe is another strong choice but is hard to find, expensive and hard as a rock which makes it very difficult to work. I’ve made many outdoor pieces out of Cypress and have been happy. I live in Cleveland and leave the furniture out during the winter and the Cypress has held up very well. You can find Cypress for less than $2 per board foot at Keim Lumber. Hope this helps.

View rustedknuckles's profile


160 posts in 2786 days

#4 posted 11-17-2009 04:54 PM

What about plane old cedar, its light, strong, cheep, extreamly rot resistant and readily available.

-- Dave- New Brunswick

View Karson's profile


34984 posts in 3435 days

#5 posted 11-17-2009 05:07 PM

I made my benches out of Cypress. The old timers (Colonist) used it for shingles in our area.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View bruc101's profile


815 posts in 2576 days

#6 posted 11-17-2009 06:45 PM

Anything outside I use Cypress…furniture, hand carved signs, outdoor media centers, decorative walls and doors, timber framed pergodas. hot tub surrounds, home was built in 1974 out of Cypress inside and out…no bugs and no rot.

-- Bruce Free Plans

View LesB's profile


1149 posts in 2478 days

#7 posted 11-17-2009 07:35 PM

I see you are located in the middle of the country and some woods may be hard to get there but my first choice would be Redwood, second Western Red Cedar or Cypress. Another one people don’t think of is Locus which is very rot resistant and should be available in your area. All can be treated with just a deck sealer or linseed oil.

-- Les B, Oregon

View bruc101's profile


815 posts in 2576 days

#8 posted 11-17-2009 10:19 PM

We’ve got lot’s of locust where I live and can’t get any boards. The mills want saw it. Mostly used for rail fences, rustic furniture, stair rails, deck rails and rough cut trusses for smaller open buildings.
I have a friend that owns a rustic furniture shop near me and he gives me his small pieces to use for firewood.
Burns hot, pops and better not fill a wood heater with it because it gets so hot.
Where can you buy the boards?

-- Bruce Free Plans

View LesB's profile


1149 posts in 2478 days

#9 posted 11-17-2009 10:59 PM

We don’t have much Locus in the Pacific Northwest so no tries to mill it. We do have lots of cedar and Redwood though.

-- Les B, Oregon

View CaptainSkully's profile


1235 posts in 2593 days

#10 posted 11-18-2009 06:01 PM

Yeah, Trex flexes too much. Ipe (Brazilian Walnut) isn’t that expensive if you go to a flooring place. Oak will need to be varnished. I like the woods that age gracefully outdoors, like redwood & cypress.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View bues0022's profile


216 posts in 2195 days

#11 posted 11-19-2009 09:35 PM

If you can find Cumaru you could use this also. Very similar in properties to Ipe, but cheaper (at least where I get my wood). I think for 5/4 it was around $6/board foot. More expensive than some domestics, but not terrible. It is extremely hard, and difficult to sand, so make sure your cuts are accurate because you won’t want to sand down even 1/16th of an inch unless you want a good workout!

-- Ryan -- Maple Grove, MN

View a1Jim's profile


113725 posts in 2612 days

#12 posted 11-19-2009 09:45 PM

Ceder,cypress,Redwood, Epi,Teak ,locus,Heat treated southern yellow pine.pressure treated southern yellow pine. The composites like Trex are not structural.

-- Custom furniture

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