Acacia is a huge genus containing several hundred species, spread over several countries and continents. It is also a very diverse form of wood that ranges from moderately to extremely hard.
It proved next to impossible to accurately classify acacia due to its diverse variety that we find spread across the world. But acacia is such a versatile and durable wood that it enjoys wide popularity among woodworkers and construction engineers alike. It is also the ideal choice for outdoor use in garden furniture, decks, and gazebos.
Although the diverse nature of acacia thwarted attempts to standardize its classification, wood traders regularly use this name to describe many of the types of wood they sell.
Nowadays, you will find acacia growing in Africa, Australia, Asia, and even the Americas. There has been much controversy arising from the claim to fame of these trees by Australia and Africa.
Does acacia belong to Africa or Australia? There are some prominent acacia species like gum Arabic. However, Australia has almost a thousand species of this tree. Acacia was originally discovered in Africa in the 1700s, but later, hundreds more were documented in Australia.
Ultimately, the International Botanical Congress (IBC) proclaimed acacia to be a native plant of Australia.
Properties of Acacia
Although we cannot club all the species of acacia into one group, there are several common factors that most species share. Another name for acacia is wattle, which is the popular term for this wood in Australia.
As mentioned above, acacia grows in many countries and continents, primarily in Australia, Africa, Asia, and some Pacific islands. The genus contains almost 1,000 species.
Acacia wood varies widely in density and can be heavy and hard to moderately heavy. The heartwood is medium brown to dark brown, and the sapwood is demarcated. The wood grain contains figured patterns that the Australians call “ringed.”
The wood is very hard to moderately hard. The commercial-grade wood is moderately hard. A useful property of acacia is that it fluoresces when exposed to black light, making it easy to identify.
Is acacia wood good for the outdoors?
We use acacia wood for indoor purposes like indoor furniture, cabinets, and shelves. But by its high durability and strength, it is a useful type of wood to use outdoors.
Here are some benefits of using acacia wood for outdoor furniture:
Acacia grows so abundantly that we consider it an invasive species in some countries like Australia. However, its easy availability makes it an affordable wood to use for making indoor and outdoor furniture.
Easy to Work With
Acacia is very pliable when freshly cut. You can bend and shape it to create intricate furniture components. It is also not a very hardwood, so, without sacrificing any strength, you will find it easy to cut with hand and machine tools.
An acacia tree can grow up to 82 feet, getting sufficiently large sections for various applications. The different sizes make it possible to make all sorts of outdoor furniture.
Acacia is one of the hardiest and durable types of wood in the world. In days of old, it was used to build ships. The wood is dense, hard, and has good resistance to moisture and rot, making it the ideal choice for garden furniture, decks, and patios.
An Eco-friendly Option
Acacia does not feature in the list of endangered wood species. It is because it grows like a weed in most countries, and with careful monitoring, the wood can be harvested to the maximum benefit. Therefore, you can use acacia without the fear that you are endangering the world’s forests.
Resistance to Abrasion
Acacia is a dense and hardwood with high resistance to abrasion, unlike many softer woods, even hardwoods. Therefore, furniture made up from this wood will not show up scratches easily, and if they do, you will find it easy to touch up the damage.
Diverse Grain Patterns
Acacia is a light-colored wood with varying grain patterns. These grain patterns depending on the cut of the wood, the location of the trees, quality, and growing conditions. It introduces wide possibilities to enhance the appearance of the wood through sanding, staining and applying an appropriate wood finish.
How to Maintain Acacia Wood
Acacia is a great option for outdoor applications. But to get the best from your wood, you need to follow a few basic maintenance procedures. Here are the steps to keep your acacia outdoor furniture in prime condition:
It is a good practice to wipe down outdoor acacia furniture with a wet cloth. However, prevention being better than cure, the way to keep your acacia wood clean is to avoid spills, particularly from alcohol and perfume, as the stains can be permanent.
Avoid Cleaning with Harsh Chemicals
You stand to damage your acacia furniture if you use strong chemicals to clean it. If you need to work on a few stubborn stains, the best way is to gently rub the surface with a cloth dipped in non-detergent liquid.
Protection from Heat
Ensure that your acacia furniture is not exposed to a heat source. Acacia can be permanently damaged and may warp if exposed to direct sunlight for prolonged periods.
Apply Oil Regularly
You can preserve the color and protect the wood if you apply oils like tung oil or boiled linseed oil (BLO).
However, failure to apply oil regularly can result in your outdoor furniture becoming gray.
Use Furniture Covers
Cover your furniture with breathable covers when you are not going to use it for a long time, like when you go on a holiday or get posted overseas for a few months. Breathable covers prevent mold and make maintenance relatively easier.
Store Indoors During Winter
Store your outdoor acacia furniture indoors during the winter or rainy weather, when you aren’t likely to use your outdoor acacia furniture. You can use a tool shed or a spare room inside the house for this purpose.
Acacia is an incredibly durable and strong type of wood. So, to answer the question “Is acacia wood good for outdoors? The answer is yes. You can make some very robust and durable outdoor furniture with this type of wood. So, try using acacia for making furniture for your next woodworking project. You might have a pleasant surprise!