When it comes to outdoor benches, choosing the right wood is crucial. The right wood can make your bench last for years, while the wrong wood can quickly deteriorate and require frequent maintenance. With so many options available, it can be challenging to determine which wood is the best for outdoor benches.
Fortunately, there are several types of wood that are well-suited for outdoor use. Cedar, oak, teak, and redwood are just a few of the popular choices. Each type of wood has its own unique characteristics that make it ideal for outdoor benches. For example, cedar is known for its natural resistance to decay and insects, while teak is prized for its durability and resistance to water and sunlight.
Ultimately, the best wood for an outdoor bench will depend on several factors, including the climate, the amount of sun and moisture exposure, and the desired aesthetic. In this article, we will explore the top woods for outdoor benches and provide tips for selecting the best wood for your specific needs.
Types of Wood for Making an Outdoor Bench
Cedar is a popular choice for outdoor benches because of its natural resistance to decay, its strength, and its affordability. The natural oils in Cedar have an odor that repels insects, which makes it a great option for outdoor furniture.
You don’t need any introduction to teak. It is a universal wood that we find both indoors and outdoors. Due to its high durability, water resistance, and resistance to sunlight, teak is a suitable choice of wood to use for outdoor benches.
Teak also does not get dirty that easily and offers high resistance to insect attack due to its natural oil. The only downsides of teak are its cost and availability. Teak is an expensive wood and also quite scarce. But if you can get some genuine, legally produced teak, it will be worth spending the extra money.
Oak is a versatile choice for woodworkers, especially when it comes to outdoor applications. It is strong, durable, and has some beautiful grain patterns as well. This classic golden-brown wood will always be in fashion, indoors and outside.
You may have to apply some protective treatment to oak and cover the furniture when not in use, but generally speaking, oak is a good choice for outdoor benches.
Oak is a strong and durable wood that is commonly used for outdoor furniture. It has a durability rating of 3, which means it can last for up to 20 years with proper maintenance. Oak is also resistant to decay and insect damage, making it a great option for outdoor benches.
Redwood is a popular choice for outdoor furniture because of its natural resistance to decay and insect damage. It has a durability rating of 2, which means it can last for up to 10 years with proper maintenance. Redwood is also easy to work with and has a beautiful natural color that can be enhanced with a clear sealer or stain.
Pine is affordable and easy to work with, but it is not as strong or durable as other types of wood and is not an obvious choice for outdoor furniture. However, pine is affordable and readily available throughout North America. There are over 120 species of pine, such as the Southern Yellow Pine is much more rot resistant. While some of the types of wood above have advantages over pine, it’s still a decent option to consider especially if you can find a locally sourced durable species of pine.
Black Locust is often overlooked but can often be sourced locally in North America. Black Locust is a hardwood that is known for its strength, durability, and resistance to decay and insect damage and can last for up to 25 years with proper maintenance. It is also resistant to moisture and can withstand extreme weather conditions, making it a great option for outdoor benches.
If you do a quick Internet search, you’ll find lots of websites recommending more exotic woods than we do. These often include Brazilian and African hardwoods that are known for their hardness and weather resistance. However, most of these sites are selling (expensive) outdoor benches.
Our website is dedicated to hobby woodworking and most of these types of wood are not affordable or locally available – and even more importantly are difficult to work with due to their density and hardness making them a poor choice for beginner woodworkers.
Exotic woods are often sought after for their unique beauty and durability. However, they can also be expensive and difficult to source. Here are a few exotic woods that are often recommended for outdoor benches:
|Ipe||Dense and durable; resistant to rot, insects, and weathering||Expensive; difficult to work with due to hardness; may require pre-drilling for screws|
|Iroko||Durable and weather-resistant; naturally contains oils that repel insects and moisture||Expensive; can be difficult to source sustainably (IUCN Red List)|
|Brazilian Cherry||Durable and resistant to rot; naturally resistant to insects and weathering||Expensive; can be difficult to work with due to hardness; may darken over time|
While exotic woods can be a good choice for outdoor benches, it’s important to consider the cost and availability of these materials.
It’s also important to note that sourcing exotic woods from unsustainable or illegal sources can contribute to deforestation and harm ecosystems. Always ensure that the wood you are using is ethically and sustainably sourced. Here are some popular types of wood if you want to explore some options:
Ipe (pronounced as “e-pay” is a natural hardwood that is three times harder than teak. This wood is extremely long-lasting. The Coney Island boardwalk and the Brooklyn Bridge are made of Ipe and are still standing after more than 75 years.
Ipe also shows considerable resistance to insects and does not splinter easily. It is not only scratch resistant but exhibits a natural slip resistance as well and does not soak up moisture easily. These properties make Ipe a suitable choice for outdoor benches.
Here is a wood from South America that is pleasant to look at and also durable and long-lasting. Tigerwood lasts more than 30 years if maintained properly. In addition, it shows considerable resistance to wood-boring insects, mildew, and mold and does not splinter easily.
All the above properties of tigerwood make it an ideal choice for use outdoors, like for making outdoor benches.
Cumaru wood has similar properties to Ipe. It is durable and resistant to insect attack, rot, and decay. In addition, this wood has a lovely golden-brown to reddish-brown color. Cumaru wood is readily available and is one of the cheaper wood options.
The other name for Garapa is Brazilian ash. This wood has excellent properties that make it a suitable choice for making outdoor benches. It is light yellow with a golden hue. Garapa resists insects, rot, and decay and, like tigerwood, can last for more than 30 years.
Also known as Brazilian Redwood or bullet wood, this wood exhibits more durability than California redwood. It also lasts longer and needs minimum maintenance, making it a suitable outdoor wood.
Massaranduba wood is seven times harder than California redwood, with a Janka hardness rating of 3,190. Thus, it is one of the hardest varieties of wood. Additionally, it resists decay and rot quite well, especially if you apply an appropriate sealer. If maintained properly, Massaranduba wood can last more than 30 years.
Iroko (African teak)
Iroko can be difficult to source sustainably (IUCN Red List). Also called African teak because it is extremely similar to teak on a cellular level and in its characteristics. It is a native of the Ivory Coast, and the growth rate is extremely slow.
Iroko produces a high level of natural oil like traditional teak, making it resistant to pests, mold, fungus, and moisture. It also shares the good looks of traditional teak, so you can use it to make robust, attractive garden benches.
Considerations for Outdoor Benches
Before we consider the wood to use, let’s take a brief look at the things you need to consider for outdoor benches.
Factors to Consider
When choosing the best wood for outdoor benches, there are several factors to consider. These include durability, weather resistance, and maintenance. By taking these factors into account, you can ensure that your outdoor bench will last for years to come.
Durability is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing wood for an outdoor bench. The wood should be able to withstand constant exposure to the elements without deteriorating or rotting. Cedar and teak are two of the most durable woods for outdoor furniture. Cedar has a durability rating of 2 and is known for its natural resistance to decay. Teak, on the other hand, is highly resistant to water, insects, and decay, making it an excellent choice for outdoor furniture.
Another important factor to consider is weather resistance. The wood should be able to withstand extreme temperatures, rain, and snow without warping or cracking. Redwood and cypress are both known for their weather resistance. Redwood is naturally resistant to decay and insects, while cypress is highly resistant to moisture and decay. Your local weather may also influence your choice of wood, a bench sitting outside all winter in Minnesota will take a lot more abuse from the elements than a bench in a shady area in Southern California.
The maintenance required for the wood is also an important factor to consider. Some woods require more maintenance than others to keep them looking their best. Teak, for example, requires regular oiling to maintain its natural color and prevent it from turning gray. Cedar, on the other hand, requires very little maintenance and can be left to weather naturally.
Other woods, such as eucalyptus and acacia, require regular sealing to protect them from the elements. It’s important to consider the level of maintenance required for the wood before making a decision.
Resistance to Rot and Insects
Any structure meant for outdoor use should consist of wood with a fair degree of resistance to rotting. The resistance levels to rot varies between different tree species. Regardless of the wood you choose for a bench, it should not be too water-absorbent.
Insects are another hazard to wooden benches. Treated wood can help get rid of insects, but it can cause some damage before the insects get affected by the chemicals in the wood. So, some natural resistance to rot and insects is desirable.
Storing your Benches
The harsh winter season can be particularly harsh for outdoor benches. So when you build a bench, you also need to consider a place to store it during extreme weather. The advantage of storing benches in a protected place during harsh weather is that the life of the furniture gets greatly enhanced.
When it comes to choosing the best wood for outdoor benches, there are a variety of factors to consider. Some of the most important factors include durability, resistance to weather and insects, and overall appearance.
Based on the research and information gathered, it is clear that there are several excellent options for outdoor benches. Cedar is a popular choice due to its natural resistance to decay, strength, and affordability. Teak is another great option due to its high durability, water resistance, and resistance to sunlight.
For those who are looking for a more unique and exotic option, ipe wood is a great choice. This all-natural hardwood is more than three times harder than teak and has been shown to last up to 75 years or more on many commercial applications.
Ultimately, the best wood for outdoor benches will depend on individual preferences and needs. When making a decision, it is important to consider factors such as your budget, and availability of locally sustainable wood. With the right choice of wood, an outdoor bench can provide many years of comfort and beauty to any outdoor space.