Lasting Outdoor Furniture is a Thing of Beauty

by Dave Robinson 35

See if We Have Top-Rated
Outdoor Furniture in Your Area

Related Articles

  • Find Top-Rated Pros
Decks & Porches

If you are looking for the maximum in comfort, aesthetic appeal, and durability for your yard or patio, you might want to take a look at outdoor wood furniture. It is a bit more expensive than metal or plastic alternatives, but there are many rewards. Here is what you need to know about investing in wooden outdoor furniture:

Why Outdoor Wood Furniture?
Most people are attracted to wood for its good looks. Outdoor wood furniture gives your yard a handsome, rustic appeal that can transport you to another time. But there are other benefits, as well. Hardwood can last up to 30 years, properly maintained, and it comes in many comfortable designs.

Which Wood is Which?
As you shop around for outdoor furniture, you will come across a variety of different types of wood, each with its own distinctive properties. Here are some of the major ones:

  • Cedar: Northern White cedar is popular for indoor and outdoor wood furniture thanks mainly to its strength. It is also naturally resistant to insect damage, decay, and weather damage, which makes it ideal for outdoor furniture. Its fresh scent can also repel insects. Cedar's color is usually white to gold. After a year in the elements, it will develop a weathered, silver-gray look. With a small amount of maintenance, cedar furniture will last 25 or 30 years.
  • Brazilian Cherry: This South American hardwood is valued for decks, playgrounds, and railroad ties thanks to its density and weather-resistance. Brazilian cherry's natural finish is a deep red color which fades in the sun. In about a year, the color will turn to a silvery gray. It will last up to 25 years in the elements.
  • Alder: This is a fine-grained hardwood from the Pacific Coast with a look similar to cherry or birch. Alder is known for its durability and strength. It holds paint or stain well, and also looks good in its natural, honey-like color. Alder has no problems with sap, mineral streaks, dark colors or stains.
  • Cypress: Very durable, cypress resists decay, splitting, and checking, which are the small cracks that develop in joints and around screws. Its color is a yellow-red that's sometimes called salmon. It also holds paint very well. Unpainted cypress furniture will usually last more than 30 years.
  • Mahogany: An extremely hard, tight-grained wood with a deep, red-brown color. It resists shrinking, splintering, and checking, which makes mahogany a perfect wood for outdoor furniture. Left to the elements, mahogany will turn a soft silvery gray patina and can be expected to last up to 25 years.
  • Shorea: A close, less-expensive cousin of teak, this is a tropical hardwood from the Pacific Rim. Shorea is dense and very resistant to rot and bugs. If left to weather naturally, it will turn a silver-gray in about a year. During wet weather some surfaces may become rough, but in a year or so, the natural weathering process will serve to stabilize the wood. Shorea furniture will last 30 years or more.
  • Pine: A soft wood, pine is suited for outdoor wood furniture if it's pressure-treated. Some people choose plantation-grown pine because they worry about the environmental impact of using more exotic woods. Pine takes stain very well, or will darken over time. The elements will weather pine furniture, but the structure will remain sound for 20 years or more.

A Lifetime of Use
Whichever wood you choose, your outdoor furniture should be maintained to maximize its lifespan. If you can't bring it inside in the winter, cover it with a waterproof, breathable material. Also, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions about care and upkeep. With very little effort, your outdoor furniture will continue to look good and feel comfortable for many years to come.

Deck Installation Project Guide
If you enjoyed this article, check out our free Deck Installation Guide, which features expert advice, design & material comparisons, and custom price estimates for your remodeling project.