Choosing the Most Durable Wood for Outdoor Furniture

Wood is a natural choice for outdoor furniture, but durability varies. (DepositPhotos)

A garden bench adds the perfect finishing touch to a landscaped yard. At the end of a meandering path or under a favorite tree, a comfortable bench provides a place to sit and contemplate nature, to unwind from the pressures of daily life.

While garden benches and other outdoor furniture can be made from a range of materials, it’s hard to beat natural wood for warmth and beauty. When using wood for outside furniture, it’s important to choose a durable, weather-resistant wood.

So which wood should you choose for your garden bench? Here’s a look at some of the most durable and attractive natural woods available.

Acacia

Acacia garden bench
Acacia garden bench
For those concerned about sustainability and eco-friendly living, acacia makes a good choice. Acacia trees grow in such abundance in many regions of the world, that they’re often considered an invasive species.

Acacia is a dense, durable hardwood that can withstand the elements. It is often used in boat building.

Sealing acacia serves to enhance and preserve the wood’s rich, golden brown color. If left unsealed, acacia should be reserved for deck or patio furniture, since constant contact with the damp ground of a garden may cause the wood to discolor.

Cedar

Cedar garden bench
Cedar garden bench
The resins in both western cedar and northern white cedar render these woods resistant to both insects and rot. Cedar is a lightweight wood, making it the perfect choice if you plan to move or rearrange your outdoor furniture often.

Cedar is also a good choice if you would like your bench to match your house or other furnishings, since it paints and stains well. In fact, yearly cleaning and sealing of cedar are recommended, as the soft grain becomes rough over time if left untreated.

Left in a natural state, cedar weathers to an elegant silvery gray over time. Bear in mind that cedar is rather soft, so it will dent and scratch more easily than harder woods like shorea or teak. Paradoxically, since cedar retains moisture, rather than drying out, it’s more resistant to cracking than many other woods.

Cypress

Cypress garden bench
Cypress garden bench
Cypress wood contains a natural preservative that is both rot and insect resistant. Cypress is capable of withstanding the elements without a finish of any kind, though a periodic coat of oil will keep the wood looking fresh longer.

Like cedar, cypress weathers to a silver gray over time when left unfinished. Cypress is also a very stable wood, with little shrinking or swelling throughout the changing seasons.

While cypress is a good choice for outdoor furniture, it may be a little difficult to find due to the scarcity of mature trees.