Types of wood for outdoor furniture

Written by carol ann
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Types of wood for outdoor furniture
Decide what kind of outdoor wood furniture fits your lifestyle. (lawn furniture image by Joann Cooper from Fotolia.com)

Outdoor wood furniture can be made from hardwood or softwood. Hardwood comes from broad-leafed trees and softwood comes from needle-bearing trees. There are six kinds of wood that are popular for outdoor furniture. A tip for adding up to 10 years of life to outdoor wood furniture is move it from grass to a patio or deck where it will dry faster when wet.

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Redwood is a softwood with straight grain. It is harvested from forests in the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia and California. Redwood is a durable wood with resistance to rot and termites, making it an ideal choice for outdoor furniture. Apply an oil-based stain with water sealer and preservative once a year to maintain. Spray with hose and wipe dry to clean. Mildew can be removed with equal parts of bleach and warm water and a scrub brush. When properly cared for, redwood furniture can last more than 25 years.

White Cedar

White cedar is a light-coloured softwood with straight grain and numerous knots. It is harvested from forests in Southern Canada and the United States. White cedar is naturally splinter-free and a relatively fast grower. It is naturally resistant to weather, insects, decay, mildew and mould. Apply a water-based stain once a year and clean with soap and water to maintain. With proper care, outdoor furniture made from white cedar can last up to 25 years.


Pine is a light-coloured softwood with straight grain. It is harvested mainly from American forests but also from all around the world. There are two types of pine used for outdoor furniture; pressure treated and untreated. Untreated pine has low resistance to the elements and is less durable than pressure treated pine. A water- or oil-based sealer should be applied to untreated pine every year. Pressure treated pine needs no sealer but can be painted or stained if desired. Either type of pine can be cleaned with soap and water. Remove mildew with a standard bathroom cleaner. Outdoor furniture made from either type of pine should be stored out of the elements during winter. If properly taken care of, pressure treated pine can last up to 20 years.


Roble is a dense, golden-coloured hardwood, relatively lightweight yet strong. It is harvested from Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Argentina and Paraguay. Being a darker, durable hardwood, it is more decay-resistant than lighter woods. Oil with boiled linseed, teak or marine oil every six months to maintain the natural golden tint. Use a brush and water to clean. Properly taken care of, outdoor furniture made from roble can last up to 25 years.


Jarrah is a hardwood with fine grain. The grain in jarrah is shaded from light salmon pink to a reddish brown. It is harvested in South Africa, South America and from government-managed forests in Australia. Jarrah is naturally fire-, termite- and rot-resistant and will not decay. This wood should be treated every four to six months with a finish especially made to maintain the vibrant shades of colour. Use soap and water to clean. Outdoor furniture made from jarrah can last up to 50 years when properly maintained.


Teak is a honey-brown hardwood with a straight grain. It is dense and resilient and extremely resistant to decay and rot. It is harvested primarily from teak plantations in Southeast Asia but is also harvested from Central and South America and West Africa. Apply teak oil every six to 12 months to maintain the natural colour or let it weather to a light silvery grey without treatment. Clean with soap and water or a cleaner designed for teak wood. Teak is a durable wood and will last up to 50 years if properly maintained.

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