Naturally, wood outdoor furniture has different care requirements than those of polywood, vinyl, aluminum, or plastic. There are many types of wood from which it may be constructed, and each has specific characteristics that give it a beauty all its own. While these traits also affect a wood’s durability, there are other factors that will determine how long it will actually last.
One of the variables is the way that people decide to treat (or not treat) it from the start. Of course, the best way to ensure that your outdoor wood furniture will hold onto its good looks and structural integrity is to know something about the individual kinds of wood.
Western Red Cedar, for example, is one of the most popular woods, as it is gorgeous, and exceptionally durable. With its rich texture, inherent radiance, and deep, warm tones, which range from light amber to honey brown, it makes spectacular porch swings, outdoor dining sets, and garden benches. Cedar has innate oils that repel insects, and make it highly resistant to decay, as well as dimensionally stable properties that help to keep it from warping.
If you wish to maintain its original hues, use a sealer on your cedar outdoor furniture when it’s new; otherwise, leave it unfinished, and it will eventually turn to a rustic gray. If you want it somewhere in between, wait until it reaches the tone you desire, and then seal it. You can also change the shade of the wood by staining it.
Treated Southern Yellow Pine also makes stunning, sturdy outdoor chairs, chaise lounges, and picnic tables, that will withstand years of heavy use and harsh weather. Treated pine undergoes a process of kiln-drying, before and after a special pressure treatment, which helps to prevent decay, and minimize warping, checking, and twisting.
As with cedar, you can seal and/or stain treated pine outdoor furniture to retain its yellow hue, or allow it to weather to a yellow-tinted gray. Applying a stain/sealer once a year will preserve the wood’s luster, and protect it from the elements; and it’s best to use one that offers UV protection, and is resistant to mildew.
Teak is one of the best of all hardwoods for making outdoor furniture. It grows in rich soil that infuses the wood with a high concentration of mineral deposits, which make it heavy, dense, waxy, thermally stable, water-repellent, and resistant to decay, insects, and warping. You can sustain its resplendence with a stain/sealer, or let it turn to a silvery-gray.
You’ll find quality stain/sealers at any hardware store, in many color options, including clear, honey, cedar, and redwood. Darker stains are better for maintaining the natural look, as they provide more protection from UV rays and body oils. Applying a couple of coats every few years may be sufficient; but a lot depends upon your region’s climate, and how much your wood outdoor furniture groups are exposed to the elements. If you leave them out all year long, unprotected by outdoor furniture covers, you may have to treat them annually.
The good news is that virtually every kind of wood patio furniture, when properly treated and maintained, will stay attractive and solid for quite a long time. Knock on wood.