Wood Types

from Outdoor Casual
The quality and durability of your wood outdoor furniture depends on the type of wood it's made out of. We've gathered six of the most popular woods so you can compare durability, maintenance needs, and prices.

Buying a durable wood patio furniture set should be easier than purchasing the fastest computer. All it requires is a drive to the patio shop or home improvement center to pick on out. You might debate over a chair style with or without arms, but no time-consuming comparisons of memory space or monitors, right? Wrong.

Wait until you see furniture aisles loaded with styles, with one chair costing $200 and another one that looks identical but costs $500. And what are “jarrah” and “roble” woods, anyway? The salesperson turns into your only hope for a better explanation of all the collections — maybe. Suddenly it feels like a bad day at a computer warehouse.

But wood patio furniture is worth the effort. Its substantial silhouettes, warm-tone finishes, and easy-clean surfaces make it a knockout that will endure for decades with proper care. Set out on a deck or patio, it turns an outdoor room into a stylish escape.

Before you spend your patio furniture budge, you need to know what you’re buying. Ultimately, your satisfaction will be impacted by the durability and maintenance requirements of the wood type and the piece’s construction. You also should realize that where you locate the furniture will impact its durability. For example, wood furniture left unprotected will last longer in a bone-dry Arizona desert than in the hot and humid South because it’s much less likely to rot. Move wood furniture off the grass and onto a quick drying patio or deck, and you can extend its life by about 10 years.

The following hard facts about wood furniture will make it easier to choose a patio set you will happily arrange for 20-plus years.

White Cedar

An affordable, straight-grained softwood, light in color, easy to craft into furniture, and naturally splinter-free, with more knots than teak or mahogany. A relatively quick grower, cedar is rapidly renewable resource. Harvested from forests in the northern United States and Southern Canada.

Durability: Naturally insect- and weather-resistant, white cedar also resists mold, mildew, and decay. Will last for 25 years.
Maintenance Needs: Apply a transparent or water-based stain if desired annually. Clean with diluted bleach solution or soap and water.
Price Comparison: Standard chair: $80-$250; bench: $150-$350; patio table and four chairs: $500-$1,100.


A dense, strong, relatively lightweight, and medium textured hardwood with a golden cast. Harvested primarily from dry tropical forests in Bolivia, but also grows in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Peru.

Durability: Durable; darker wood are more decay-resistant than lighter woods. Will last for 25 years.
Maintenance Needs: To maintain its naturally golden hue, oil every six months with teak, boiled linseed, or marine oil. Scrub with a brush and rinse with a hose to clean.
Price Comparison: Standard chair: $150-$300; bench: $200-$500; patio table and four chairs: $950-$1,600.


A resilient, dense, straight grained, and honey-brown hardwood that’s very stable. Primarily harvested from teak plantations in Southeast Asia, but also grows in West Africa, Central America, and South America.

Durability: Highly resistant to rot and decay. Will last for up to 50 or more years, even if it is left out year-round.
Maintenance Needs: Without preservative, it weathers to a silvery gray finish. To maintain original color, apply high-grade teak oil once or twice a year. Clean with a specialty teak-cleaning product or mild soap and warm water.
Price Comparison: Standard chair: $210-$350; bench: $350-$600; patio table and four chairs: $1,200-$2,030.

A fine-grained hardwood with shades of reddish brown to salmon pink. Harvested mostly in government-managed forests in Australia; also grows in South America and South Africa.

Durability: Naturally rot-, termite-, and fire-resistant, it won’t decay. Will last up to 50 years.
Maintenance Needs: No oil or staining required, but to maintain its rich color, the wood should be treated two to three times a year with a finish made for jarrah. Power-wash or scrub with a mild detergent and rinse to clean. Retighten fittings ever 6-12 months or as needed.
Price Comparison: Standard chair: $299-$599; bench: $365-$599; patio table and four chairs: $2,599-$2,900.

An affordable softwood with uniform texture and straight grain. Harvested around the world, but especially in American forests.

Durability: Untreated pine rates low in durability and rot resistance, but pressure-treated pine will last for 20 years.
Maintenance Needs: Treated pine requires no preservative, but can be painted, sealed, or stained. Untreated pine should be repainted or resealed yearly. Sore inside during the winter. Clean with mild detergent and rinse; remove mildew with a cleaner formulated for the batheroom.
Price Comparison: Standard chair: $100-$400; bench: $400-$600; patio table and four chairs: $600-$1,000.


Strong, straight-grained softwood with a ruddy cast. Harvested from forests in California, the Pacific Northwest, and British Columbia.

Durability: Durable with a high resistance to termites and rot. With proper care can last more than 25 years.
Maintenance Needs: Protect annually with an oil-based stain that includes a water sealer and preserver. Hose off and wipe with a damp cloth to clean. Remove mildew with scrub brush and equal parts of bleach and warm water; once dry, lightly sand and restain.
Price Comparison: Standard chair: $120-$200; bench: $150-$250; patio table and four chairs: $450-$900.

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