How to Choose Outdoor Wood Furniture

Patio with garden furniture and parasol
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While wood furniture is a popular choice for outdoor spaces, not every wood is a good choice for your garden or patio. Outdoor furniture has to contend with the elements as well as everyday use. Take that into account, along with your own needs and requirements, before you choose any outdoor furniture in wood.

Questions to Ask Before Buying Outdoor Wood Furniture:

Where Will It Go?

Consider where you will place your outdoor wood furniture. Is it going to be completely exposed to the elements? Will there be some kind of overhead protection such as inside a porch, for example? If your wood furniture is going to be placed in a considerably protected environment, you can get away with using a soft wood such as pine, but it might not work in an exposed location.

What Type of Surface Are You Placing It On?

Consider your surface and whether you will place it on a hard surface or soft ground, such as a grassy area. Placing outdoor wood furniture on hard surfaces can help protect it from dreaded furniture destroyers such as rot or mildew. It might be better to choose resin or metal over wood if you plan to place your patio set on the soft ground.

What Is the Climate Like?

Consider your climate. Humidity, hot sun, or a lot of rain and moisture all affect wood differently. In such conditions, your wood furniture might require extra protection or maintenance. For instance, you may have to provide some shade. Most woods are hard to maintain under damp conditions unless it is something as forgiving as teak.

What Is Your Budget?

Consider how much you can spend. Outdoor wood furniture varies in price depending on what you buy and the type of wood you choose. Is this furniture going to be temporary due to your budget constraints, or are you looking for quality, long-lasting furniture? Prices could range from the low hundreds up to thousands. Wood furniture requires more maintenance, such as annual coatings of a stain or sealant, which is an additional yearly cost, not only in expense but time, too. 

Best Outdoor Wood Furniture Choices:

There are plenty of choices when it comes to outdoor wood furniture, and here are some popular ones that are also hardy and do not require very intensive care. You do not have to choose all wood because you can easily find wood coupled with metal frames.

  • Teak: Teak has lately become a very popular choice for outdoor furniture, and for a good reason. It is a great investment. Although teak is more expensive than most woods used for outdoor furniture, it remains popular because of its longevity, immunity to weather, and very few care requirements.
  • Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus is also a good alternative and can last almost as long as teak if treated annually with a water-based acrylic sealant. It has the added advantage of being less expensive.
  • Cedar: While cedar is not as long-lasting as teak or eucalyptus, it can still last for a couple of decades if cared for properly. It requires an annual coating of protective oil.
  • Acacia: Durable and beautiful, acacia is also more expensive than a lot of woods. Furniture built with acacia, while naturally water-resistant, is not waterproof and will require some maintenance, including washing with warm, soapy water and applying oil to show off those gorgeous grains.
  • Ipe: This Brazilian rainforest hardwood, called Ipe, is showing up more and more in both decking and outdoor furniture. Eco-friendly and long-lasting, this wood can be stained or left in its natural state. Maintenance for this wood is similar to other woods on our list, including washing and coating of oil such as linseed.
  • Redwood: Similar to cedar, you can choose to stain it or let it show off its natural reddish-brown color. Either way, this wood will require cleaning and an annual clear sealant placed on it.

Construction and Quality

When you shop for outdoor wood furniture, make sure you are buying good quality and well-made pieces. Pay the same attention to quality that you would for indoor furniture.

Avoid furniture that has glued or stapled joints as that can fall apart easily. A lot of the inexpensive patio furniture is like that. And it can quickly become expensive to keep replacing it every season.

Make sure all the joints are sturdy. Look for dovetailed or mortise and tenon joints as they hold up well. Any screws that have been used to put the pieces together should either be stainless steel or have a rust-proof coating. Remember that your furniture will be sitting outdoors and will be exposed to the elements. Any rusting screws will not just take away from the appearance, but will also affect the longevity of your furniture.

Good quality wood furniture can be located in home improvement stores, furniture stores, and even online. It is best though to view it in person to ensure you get what you want and see how its made, too.