Wood species for outdoor bench

RickR

Rick
Senior User
I am considering building an outdoor bench similar to the one shown in the attached photo. Currently considering either cypress or red cedar but am open to other options. I believe I can get cedar through a local sawmill but am curious if anyone has a recommendations based on workability, strength, weather durability, etc. I plan to leave the bench unfinished to weather naturally. Within a factor of 2X on material cost relative to cedar what say you? Thanx in advance.
View a Larger Image of Woodworking Project Paper Plan to Build Twin Seater Bench
 

Brantnative

Jeff
Corporate Member
I used cypress for some outdoor furniture. Relatively easy to work. They sit on a concrete patio so I'm not worried about bugs. Only problem is the black mold it attracts.
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
I plan to leave the bench unfinished to weather naturally.
There's a possibility you may not like the end results considering the time invested. "Weather naturally" sounds good when you say it fast but what it really means is that you will be exposing raw wood to deteriorate from the natural forces of the sun and rain. Consider two or three coats of good quality paint in a shade that would mimic natural wood. The bench can be hosed off from time to time and any fungus stain can be wiped off.
 

RickR

Rick
Senior User
Good points. I hadn’t considered paint but it does address a number of issues. It also allows the use of harder, stronger woods (e.g. oak).
 

red

Papa Red
Red
Senior User
White oak is a good outdoor wood too. And with its weight it won't blow over easily in the wind. I made some beautiful adirondack chairs with it in the past.

Red
 

Oka

Oka
Corporate Member
Balau - IT is a great wood, insect resist and, used a lot for decking.
1.60 times harder than oak. It is an alternative wood to IPE. It resists the mold and age blackening like Ipe. It is about the same price as Ipe. So, it is not too expensive price available.

Also, if is from the Southwest Asia area. Balau is the Market name. A lot of places carry it.
 

Berta

Berta
Corporate Member
I have also used deck stain for outdoor furniture. They lasted for years in NE Ohio.
 

TBoomz

Ron
User
what's better for a long-lasting, but clear, outdoor finish: water-based or oil-based?...over southern red cedar.
 

Jeff

Jeff
Corporate Member
This is a cypress planter box that's been outside on a covered walkway for about 12 years. It rarely gets any direct rainfall but it does get plenty of sun and has weathered to a "pewter" gray. It doesn't look bad and is absolutely zero maintenance.

I don't know how Eastern Red Cedar would look after similar weathering.
 

Attachments

ste6168

Mike
Senior User
I built this simple planter box using eastern red cedar, no finish, in June 2016. It has sat outside, uncovered since. You can see the significant difference in color. I personally don't mind the way it looks now, especially come spring full of flowers, but certainly looked better when new. That said, no rot to be found, just bland looking. The gray pic was just taken 15 minutes ago, or so.

(Don't mind the hose storage to the left, the old plastic coil sprung a leak and I just threw the hose there in a pile until I come up with an alternative solution.)
 

Attachments

Jeff

Jeff
Corporate Member
I built this simple planter box using eastern red cedar, no finish, in June 2016. It has sat outside, uncovered since. You can see the significant difference in color. I personally don't mind the way it looks now, especially come spring full of flowers, but certainly looked better when new. That said, no rot to be found, just bland looking. The gray pic was just taken 15 minutes ago, or so.

(Don't mind the hose storage to the left, the old plastic coil sprung a leak and I just threw the hose there in a pile until I come up with an alternative solution.)
Thanks. Now I know what ERC looks like unfinished and outdoors.
 

SabertoothBunny

SabertoothBunny
User
I would say don't count out white oak. White oak has similary durability to some of the more popular cedars and cypress but at a lower cost. Personally I really like white oak for some of these projects.
 

TBoomz

Ron
User
The reason I asked is bc I've been making beehive supers from ERC.
I like the red heartwood & would like to keep it from fading to grey as long as possible. I feel the cedar's known, moth resistant properties are a better ( & environmentaly safer ) deterrent to wax moths, then the introduction of chemicals into the hive.
The Brits have been using cedar for generations, and as bees don't eat wood, there's no affect to the flavor of the honey.
 

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