When building patio furniture, rot resistance and bug resistance are the two biggest concerns that need to be addressed. Using wood for outdoor furniture such as red oak or pine practically ensures insect damage and severe weathering even in the mildest of climates. Rot-resistant woods, while still requiring occasional care and maintenance, make a far better investment in patio and outdoor furniture.
There are two predominant types of cedar, white cedar and red cedar. Red cedar has a distinctive aroma and reddish hue that are attractive for use in rot- and bug-resistant patio furniture. It may be further protected with polyurethane wood treatment, but this is not necessary except in cases where you might wish to retain the wood's original appearance. White cedar has the same aroma as red cedar, but has a grey or off-white colouring rather than red, making it an ideal outdoor wood for staining.
Teak is a widely used outdoor wood thanks to not only its resistance to rot and bug infestation, but also its fine-grained appearance. Fine outdoor furniture is commonly produced from this tropical hardwood. When freshly cut, teak has an attractive yellow-brown colour. Left untreated and exposed, teak takes on a light grey shade. Yearly application of teak oil is necessary to prevent the wood from fading to its grey shade. Teak is a widely used material in the construction of luxury boat decks.
Finding mahogany for your outdoor furniture project might today be an expensive and difficult task. Much of the world's mahogany is raised on plantations in southeast Asia, even though the tree was originally native to the Americas. Mahogany features a tight grain and attractive colouring. When finished and polished, mahogany has a deep reddish-brown colouring that grows darker with age. Mahogany was widely used in early American fine furniture making.
The structure of white oak features what are called tyloses. These small membranes are not present in other types of oak such as red oak and allow white oak to shed water rather than absorb it. This makes white oak a common wood used for the construction of oak barrels for wine making. White oak is a native species in eastern North America and is much more expensive than red oak. It's noteworthy that USS Constitution ("Old Ironsides") is constructed of white oak.
- Plow and Hearth: Woods for Outdoor Furniture
- "Outdoor Furniture: 30 Great Projects for the Deck, Lawn and Garden"; Bill Hylton; 1992
- "Building Garden & Patio Furniture"; Editors of Sunset Books; 2003
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