Whether you are planning to build a porch swing, an Adirondack chair, or a picnic table, choosing the right type of lumber is an essential step. Not all types of wood are suitable for outdoor use, as they may decay, rot, warp, or crack due to exposure to the elements.
The first decision you need to make is whether to use hardwood or softwood. Hardwoods, such as teak, mahogany, cedar, and redwood, are denser, heavier, and more resistant to water and insects than softwoods, such as pine, spruce, or fir. However, hardwoods are more expensive and harder to come by, especially if you want sustainably harvested wood. Softwoods are more readily available and affordable, but they may need to be treated to prolong their lifespan.
Another consideration is whether to use pressure-treated or natural wood. Pressure-treated lumber has been infused with chemicals that protect it from decay, fungus, and insects. This makes it a popular choice for outdoor structures like decks and fences, but may not be the best option for furniture that will come into direct contact with skin and food. Moreover, pressure-treated wood may contain toxic substances that can leach into the soil or air over time. Natural wood, on the other hand, has a more rustic and authentic look, but requires more maintenance to prevent weathering and decomposition.
If you want the durability and beauty of hardwoods without the high cost and environmental impact, consider using all-weather hardwoods like acacia, eucalyptus, or shorea. These types of wood are specially engineered to withstand moisture, UV rays, and temperature fluctuations, making them ideal for outdoor furniture that can last for years without fading or warping. All-weather hardwoods are also more resistant to scratches, dents, and stains than natural wood, making them suitable for high-traffic areas like patios and poolside decks.
No matter what type of lumber you choose, proper maintenance is essential to keep your outdoor furniture looking and functioning its best. Here are some tips to follow: