The Best Outdoor Wood FurnitureBy Bailiegh Basham · April 6, 2020
Sustainable Outdoor Furniture
Outdoor furniture helps provide more living space for your home on warmer days. Whether you have a porch, patio, fire pit or backyard to furnish, the right outdoor furniture will help you create an inviting outdoor space to entertain or relax.
But not all outdoor furniture is considered equal. And just because it’s wood doesn’t mean it can be stored outside. Your choice of materials can determine how beautiful your furniture remains for how long. In this guide, we’ll help you decide which outdoor furniture is best for your needs.
Is All Wood Furniture Suitable as Outdoor Furniture?
It’s simply not. Similar to the wood used for decks, wood furniture needs proper protection and maintenance to last longer. Even though it’s a natural material, most wood furniture needs to be properly treated or finished in order to endure the heat, cold, rain, rot and pests that come with outdoor use.
Some hardwood types, like cedar and white oak, are naturally rot-resistant. But no wood type is entirely immune to all of the outdoor elements.
What Is Treated Wood?
Wood treatments are available to prolong the life of wood types that aren’t as resilient as other durable hardwoods. Common wood treatments for outdoor furniture are: pressure treatments (done professionally) or non-pressure surface treatments (can be applied at home).
Naturally rot-resistant woods are more expensive, so treated wood is a more cost-effective solution for patio furniture. But these may not last as long as furniture made from natural redwood or cedar.
And even with proper treatment, woods like maple and pine are better suited for indoor use.
Pros and Cons of 10 Woods Used in Outdoor Furniture
- Pro: Naturally dense and scratch-resistant hardwood.
- Con: It can require daily upkeep to maintain the beauty and integrity of the wood, especially if you live in a dry climate.
- Pro: A soft and lightweight wood that’s easy to build into any type of furniture, and naturally rot-resistant.
- Con: As a softwood, it can easily chip away and lose its structural integrity over years outdoors.
- Pro: Common in Northeastern USA, it contains natural oils for weather resistance.
- Con: The wood boards can twist over time, and turn a gray color if not treated properly.
- Pro: It’s widely available and durable, with a natural resistance to rot and insects.
- Con: Lacks the beauty and distinct grain patterns of other wood types, can be considered dull.
- Pro: A beautiful red wood, it’s exceptionally durable in three-season rooms, and naturally resists moisture.
- Con: It won’t handle cold temperatures as well as other woods, and if outside it requires annual sealants to extend durability.
- Pro: It’s known for being the densest wood in the world, making it very durable and long lasting.
- Con: As a dense wood, it’s very heavy and not easily moved.
- Pro: This rich, beautiful hardwood is fade and decay resistant.
- Con: It’s a rare wood species, so production is limited each year.
- Pro: This lightweight, high quality and highly durable wood has a distinctly beautiful reddish hue.
- Con: As an endangered species only grown in California, its wood is hard to come by.
- Pro: One of the most durable hardwoods, it’s naturally weather resistant and doesn’t require much maintenance.
- Con: As a slow-growing tree, its wood isn’t always readily available.
- Pro: A very versatile and resilient wood, its consistent availability makes it a go-to choice for outdoor furniture.
- Con: It needs to be maintained over time and kept in the shade, especially during summer months, as direct sunlight and heat can cause fading.
So, What’s the Best Wood for Outdoor Furniture?
The answer may surprise you, because it’s not actually a wood at all. Here at Countryside we prefer to use recycled plastic lumber (polyethylene) for our outdoor furniture. It’s all still made in the USA by our expert artisans, and with the tradition, style and charm of our wooden indoor furniture—but with so many more outdoor-focused benefits:
- Durable - Plastic lumber outdoor furniture can last for 50 years—that’s long enough for multiple generations of your family to enjoy it.
- Eco-friendly - Poly lumber is made from recycled milk jugs and detergent bottles. Learn more about the production process of poly lumber here.
- Low maintenance - There’s no need to consistently re-seal or refinish it like with treated outdoor wood furniture.
- Smooth to touch - No splinters means it’s completely kid friendly.
- Fade resistant - It’s made to withstand sun and salt exposure.
- Easy to clean - Simply use warm water and mild dish soap to clean off any dirt that accumulates. No special supplies are needed!