We’ll get straight to the point. Wooden garden furniture is a classic choice that never goes out of style. With proper care, it can serve you for many years with little to no maintenance. It’s a worthwhile investment, especially when you know what type of wood and finishes to look for. Even better if you have a guide like this!
Wood in Furniture
The use of timber in furniture continues to prevail even when there’s a choice of materials, e.g. metal and rattan. Trends come and go, but wooden furniture remains the same.
Rot, pests, and weathering — now, you may think these factors can taint its reputation. But like other outdoor sets, such issues are common and can be solved with TLC. The material ages well with time, and the lustrous beauty, colour and grains show for it when well tended. Also, its timeless charm looks great even in a modern outdoor living space.
Yet not all outdoor wood furniture is built the same. Not because the patio chair has the same colour as the garden table doesn’t mean they share the same wood type.
The wood used in furniture construction is categorised into two varieties: hardwood and softwood. For the most part, hardwoods are generally denser, making them ‘harder’ than softwoods. But the terms don’t technically determine their relative strengths.
Hardwood comes from deciduous trees, the ones that lose their leaves annually. This wood type is known for its durability, strength, and density.
With great qualities, hardwoods are often used in furniture, flooring, and even construction. They’re also valued for their aesthetic look, such as their unique grain patterns and rich colours. Although they tend to be more expensive as they demand more time and effort to harvest and process.
Some common examples of hardwoods include oak, maple, cherry, and mahogany.
Softwood comes from a coniferous tree, which produces cones to reproduce. Softwoods are typically less dense and more flexible than hardwoods. This makes it easier to work with furniture, including paper products. They’re also a popular choice for decorative woodwork.
Examples of softwood species include pine and cedar.
Here, both hardwood and softwood can be used for structural to decorative functions. But the construction can depend on the wood type to be applied.
(Image Credit: Pattern Pictures)
Pines are excellent budget softwood options. Aside from the cheaper cost, pine is lightweight and notable for its pale colour. This type of wood is often used in unfinished furniture.
Pros: Best quality softwood, low-cost, resistant to warping, and well-suited for painting/staining.
Cons: Can easily get scratched or dented.
Cedar is a softwood noted for its light red colour and close-grain finish. Its distinctive scent, which is an effective insect repellent, is also worth noting.
Pros: High compressive strength, resistance against wrap and insects, and versatility.
Cons: Fades colour over time, requires high maintenance, and can be flammable.
Birch is a common hardwood often used in furniture. It’s similar in grain and colour to maple, with its light yellow-brown colour and close grain.
Pros: The surface is smooth, and its paint and adhesive property is strong. Good elasticity, wear resistance and clear stripe.
Cons: Susceptible to crack and warp, and shear resistance is poor and easy to break.
Beech features light-coloured hardwood with a fine tight grain. It is often used with more expensive wood and furniture like lounge chairs.
Pros: Hard and tough, with a close straight grain, polishes well and withstands shocks and wear.
Cons: Not durable enough when exposed to changes in moisture.
Ash is a tough hardwood well known for its bending abilities. It has a pale colour and straight grain and is a good alternative to oak.
Pros: Affordable, resist moisture very well and can hold up to heavy use due to their shock resistance.
Cons: Susceptible to insects and fungus when exposed to soil.
Oak is known for its durability, strength, and attractive grain patterns. It comes in two varieties: red oak and white oak.
Pros: High density and hardness, resistant to wear and tear, and can withstand heavy use over time.
Cons: Heavy wood, high tannin content, and thin oak veneers can be difficult to protect.
(Image Credit: Public Domain Pictures)
Pale in colour with a reddish cast, maple is an attractive and one of the hardest wood species.
Pros: Ultra-durable, moisture resistant, stains well, and less expensive.
Cons: It doesn’t have much grain variation and can look patchy when not sealed properly.
A straight-grained hardwood typically in chocolate brown colour.
Pros: Fine colour, strong and stable wood and can take intricate carving.
Cons: Costly, heavy and can bleach if exposed to the sun.
Cherry is a hardwood with a typically red-brown colour and fine, straight grain.
Pros: Easily shaped, polishes well, and has a rich, beautiful colour.
Cons: Expensive, and sometimes the colour darkens with age.
A premium hardwood that is weather-resistant and commonly used for outdoor furniture. It displays a golden brown colour.
Pros: Durable, versatile, resistant to rotting, termites and acids, and natural beauty.
Cons: Expensive and isn’t as readily available as some other timbers on the market.
Reputed for its attractive grain and colouration, from medium brown to deep red-brown.
Pros: Durable, long-lasting, water-resistant, and resistant to shrinking and warping.
Cons: Heavy, changes colour over time, and limited production.
(Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The coatings applied to wooden surfaces to enhance appearance, durability, and protection. These finishes may be transparent, semi-transparent or opaque. They can also come in different forms, such as varnishes, stains, oils, and waxes.
Stains consist of thin pigments absorbed into the grain of the wood. A wax, oil, polyurethane, shellac or lacquer finish is applied over it to protect the wood surface.
The choice of wood finish can also depend on the following:
- desired look
- maintenance requirements of the wooden surface
Wood finishes can also affect the texture, colour, and sheen of the wood surface. This, in return, gives it a glossy, matte, or satin finish.
Different types of wood have different levels of resistance to weather and pests. The finish can also affect the durability and appearance of the furniture. Take the time to research and choose the wood type and finish that’ll suit your outdoor leisure needs. Our new range of wooden garden furniture is worth considering, so make sure to check them out!Shop Wooden Garden Furniture
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