Choosing the right wood for an outdoor project

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Forum topic by PamC03 posted 06-17-2016 05:07 PM 769 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 126 days

06-17-2016 05:07 PM

Topic tags/keywords: outdoor douglas fir cedar redwood lumber furniture question


I’m shopping around right now before starting a new outdoor project. I’m planning on building an outdoor dining table and chairs and possibly some outdoor loungers. My local big box stores don’t sell very much in the way of lumber for these projects. I’ve mostly worked with douglas fir, however I’ve been pricing Cedar and Redwood at my local Lumber Yards for these two projects and the price difference is obviously huge. What I’m really here to ask is, is it possible to use Douglas fir for outdoor furniture? I didn’t plan on spending a huge amount on these projects. The lumber pricing for the loungers is coming in around $50 for Douglas fir and around $240 for either Cedar or Redwood. If I go ahead and use the Douglas Fir I plan on finishing it with the Behr Premium weather proofing wood finish (deck stain). What are your thoughts on using douglas fir outdoors? Does anyone have experience using it outdoors? How long would you think the furniture would last? I’m planning on purchasing my lumber and getting started within the next few days so any advise is appreciated :)

12 replies so far

View William Shelley's profile

William Shelley

147 posts in 887 days

#1 posted 06-17-2016 06:53 PM

In my experience, doug fir gets “spongy” even when not buried. I’ve made plant ID signs out of scraps of doug fir and they rotted away completely when touching soil and were only in the ground for 9-12 months. the above ground parts were soft and weak.

cedar is what you want

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

View ScottM's profile


330 posts in 1564 days

#2 posted 06-17-2016 06:58 PM

Cypress, white oak, or cedar will probably be your best bets. Doug fir will rot pretty quick if you don’t keep up the finish.

View MadMark's profile


965 posts in 870 days

#3 posted 06-17-2016 07:13 PM

Redwood & teak are good but pricey. Trex is what you need or pressure treated (toxic). Untreated wood of any type will rapidly rot in direct ground contact. Pine/fir is insect fodder & porous as a sponge. One season is all you’ll get.


-- Madmark -

View knotscott's profile


7145 posts in 2793 days

#4 posted 06-17-2016 07:15 PM

I wouldn’t use fir. Cedar, teak, redwood, white oak, cypress, mahogany, lyptus, jatoba, PT,

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View pintodeluxe's profile


4824 posts in 2231 days

#5 posted 06-17-2016 07:19 PM

The right wood for outdoor is metal.

I don’t know what climate you live in but I have seen the sturdiest white oak look like garbage after about a year.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View devann's profile


2199 posts in 2110 days

#6 posted 06-17-2016 07:54 PM

+1 what Knotscott said, I was going to post the same. Depending on where you are the price range varies. Here, in Texas starting from the cheapest; pressure treated, cedar,redwood, white oak, some call it post oak around here (hard to find on demand), cypress, mahogany,ipe, teak,lyptus, jatoba.

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

View Tideline77's profile


58 posts in 189 days

#7 posted 06-17-2016 08:33 PM

you might consider marine treated southern yellow pine

it’s designed for seawalls other marine uses like pilings and for contact with the ground….........

you can buy it rough sawn around here, but it’s not really a course rough sawn

you might need to air stack it and let it dry for a few months indoors

I don’t know what finishes you can use on it

I just left it green….......

I see lots of park benches around here made from it and left unfinished

View ThomasChippendale's profile


244 posts in 350 days

#8 posted 06-17-2016 08:37 PM

Are softwoods suited to build the the chairs ?

-- PJ

View PamC03's profile


3 posts in 126 days

#9 posted 06-17-2016 08:48 PM

These are the plans i’m using for the table and chairs:

I think i’ll end up going between either Cedar or Redwood, they price the same here locally so I guess its down to the aesthetics.

I’m in SoCal so we don’t get too much rain but a lot of hot sun!

View Kirk650's profile


272 posts in 166 days

#10 posted 06-17-2016 09:41 PM

I used treated wood for our outdoor table and benches. The wife, after the wood dried, painted it with a redwood stain/paint which has held up for years. And I made a nice cedar bench, using milled cedar from a big tree on our place, but no varnish we could find worked for long. Finally we painted it too, with that Redwood stain/paint that we got from Home Depot.

View Tideline77's profile


58 posts in 189 days

#11 posted 06-17-2016 10:57 PM

With that plan , I don’t think I would use treated pine, unless the table will be under a roof protected from the sun
Even then I wouldn’t use regular home center treated wood

That stuff will curl and cup and twist , then it will get checks and cracks in it after it gets sun baked

I would go with the other suggestions above

View PamC03's profile


3 posts in 126 days

#12 posted 06-17-2016 10:59 PM

Thanks everyone for your help! I’ll go ahead and avoid the DF and choose either Cedar or Redwood

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