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The Best 7 Outdoor Wood for DIY Garden Projects and Outdoor furniture

Decking ideas - Benches, Decks and DIY pergola, DIY garden furniture, DIY pallet furniture outdoor, Outdoor corner bench

If you have any outdoor projects lined up, say in gardening or furnishing, you need only the best, hardest, and nice-looking outdoor wood to accomplish. Unlike the indoor, which can use about any wood, outdoors furnishing needs careful assessment of wood type because of exposure to elements. It doesn’t matter the season. Your wood can take a terrible pounding from the high winds, rain, heat, and dust. If it is not the toughest of wood, it may not also withstand the effects of rot and pest infestation.

Some of the DIY garden projects and outdoor furniture can be benches, wooden tables, or chairs. Even those wooden ladders come in handy for your gardening ventures. The timber you use for any of these activities should have particular qualities and characteristics.

Besides the wood hardness, you might also want to check on overall wood durability, good moisture resistance, appearance, maintenance, and color. Perhaps the price of the specific wood matters a great deal too. 

The Most Suitable Wood Type for Your Gardening Projects and Outdoor Furnishing 

The debate for outdoor wood furnishing mainly centers around hardwood and softwood. Because of the exposure to elements, the typical wood you choose has to be robust. It also must have excellent moisture and rot resistance qualities, and that is where the hardwood beats the softwood hands down.

Of course, some softwood works so well depending on the climatic conditions. Still, you have to choose carefully and not gamble with your DIY project.

Hardwoods mainly have a slower growth time and so develop those higher density and natural strength qualities. As a result, they can endure and survive all the hard knocks than typical softwood. And because of the waterproof and rot resistance qualities of hardwoods, you can confidently use them outdoors.

A characteristic example of hardwoods suitable for outdoors includes Teak and ipe. These have a good chance outdoors because they are also highly rot-resistant. And even if they stayed out for decades, you would only minimally maintain them.

Even so, I should not hesitate to say that any wood does degrade over time. So, it would be best to dress them with some of the available natural oil finishes to keep your furniture for much longer.

Let’s take a look at some of the best and most reliable outdoor wood you can utilize 

1. Black Locust, the Best Outdoor Wood for DIY Garden Projects

Black Locust, the Best Outdoor Wood for DIY Garden Projects

If I were to choose one outdoor wood for outdoor furnishing, it would be the Black Locust. You can only compare this domestic wood to other wood species such as Hickory. Black Locust is perhaps one of the most robust and stiffest woods to withstand all weather elements, including the harsh sun and high moisture. It is also a highly durable wood material, with which you can also efficiently work.

Wood experts say black Locust can initially be challenging to machine due to its high density and hardiness properties. The wood also has some moderate blunting effect, significantly when you are cutting at the edges. Still, you can manipulate it with lathe turning. This outdoor wood also perfectly responds to steam bending enabling you to accomplish your DIY project with minimal effort.

And if you are looking at the price factor, Black Locust ranks among the most affordable woods on the market. You can also enjoy the lovely uniform patterns it creates as you make your bench or table.

2. Teak, the Best Outdoor Wood for DIY Garden Projects

Teak, the Best Outdoor Wood for DIY Garden Projects

Teak takes its coveted place as one of the most enduring outdoor wood for most outdoor furnishing. I would say it is the king of the outdoors since its high dense and straight-grained qualities make it not warp. Even with time, it doesn’t easily crack. As one of the most rot-resistant wood out there, you can leave it in the most adverse weather.

Some of the desirable Teak wood properties are natural oils, which in essence are water repellents. The same oils are known to deter insects and wood diseases that can devour and damage the wood. The hardwood also has excellent stability. As such, it cannot shrink. Neither can it expand due to exposure to humidity.

Understandably, you might shy away from the cost implications associated with Teak. The most affordable Teak is C-class and goes at $ 7 per board foot. A mere board of the B-class costs $ 13. And if you want to pull at the stops, then you might have to pick the relatively expensive C-class Teak at $41.

But it is excellent value for your money when you know that this low-maintenance wood will serve you for almost a lifetime. But, of course, the material darkens over time, and that is when it becomes better, just like a bottle of aging wine.

3. Ipe, the Best Outdoor Wood for DIY Garden Projects

Ipe, the Best Outdoor Wood for DIY Garden Projects

A fast-growing tree that is native to central and South America is Ipe. The timber is famed for its density and hardiness. Outdoor wood experts say the wood is so dense that it can barely float. Ipe is perhaps one of the most complicated woods to work, so you must apply care and precision as you cut at the edges.

And it is not just the extreme cutting resistance that you encounter with this wood species. Gluing might pose a challenge too. I recommend you prepare the surface before you can glue it. And did you know the wood also resists adhesives? It would be a waste of resources for you to use any sealants on the wood. So, I suggest you use other proper options such as screws. Other mechanical fasteners like interlocking wood joints can also be your saving grace.

Treating your ipe can also be a wise decision as it can last between 40- 50 years. That’s an entire lifetime. Untreated ipe, on the other hand, can last for roughly 15 years when left outdoors. Generally, the wood is excellent at resisting warp, crack dent, and decomposition.

The wood also has sufficient natural oil and extractive content, making it resistant to insects and fungi. Besides furniture, some of the joint projects for this wood are decks, gazebos, and flooring. Its dense, weather, scratch, and dent resistance qualities make it just the right wood type for such work.

At about $3.50 for each square foot, the wood is worth the value you get. And since it is a DIY project, the overall costs are much lower. The math would come to $20 per square foot if you were to hire professional labor. 

4. Acacia, the Best Outdoor Wood for DIY Garden Projects

Acacia, the Best Outdoor Wood for DIY Garden Projects

Why is Acacia considered one of the best outdoor woods for your outdoor gardening projects? Because it is the strongest and hardwood you could ever find. Acacia also has a high oil content that keeps your wood free from moisture. Left out there, you won’t experience any sign of rot or insect infestation with this outdoor wood. It is why boat builders prefer it to any other wood.

Often it creates a rich dark golden brown hue once sealed. It is an attractive hue you would want for your outdoor furniture. The problem occurs if you do not fill it as it can become discolored over time. You also must keep it off the grass and other humidity prune areas as it can begin to absorb moisture.

The excellent news about Acacia is that it is highly abundant and readily available. It means you can purchase it at the most reasonable price.

5. Redwood, the Best Outdoor Wood for DIY Garden Projects

Redwood, the Best Outdoor Wood for DIY Garden Projects

Most people go for Redwood in outdoor furnishing because of its insect and moisture repellent qualities. Although it is a softwood, outdoor wood experts say Redwood has little pitch. Its resin quantities are also negligible so that it holds any finishes wonderfully.

The extravagant and beautiful wood also has fine qualities and cuts well. Outdoor wood enthusiasts use it for live furniture and wide board projects. The wood’s natural pink to deep reddish and brown hues and its straight to irregular grain is why it remains one of the most desirable wood species.

The challenge is in its pricing. The highly costly wood is a slow-growing tree, meaning it is not readily available. A typical board foot goes for between $2.25 and $10. Another downside to Redwood is that most people avoid it due to its susceptibility to dents. The softwood can also tear and chip during machining.

6. White Oak, the Best Outdoor Wood for DIY Garden Projects

The majority of outdoor wood specialists would tell you that oak is their favorite because of its strength. It is also much harder than most of the wood species. White oak is also suitable for any furnishing project, irrespective of where it will function. It means you can also make your gorgeous indoor furniture out of timber.

The outdoor wood is also highly abundant, and this affects price implications. However, you can make significant cost savings with an equally excellent white oak material creating durable furniture. White oak has a straight grain, and it’s resistant to rot, so all you need to do is care for it minimally to last you for many years.

Some of the joint projects for this wood are chairs, tables, and cabinets. But its wide board structure enables you to use it well for flooring, barrels, and boat building. Other people prefer the wood for trims and veneers. So all I can say is it is a durable multipurpose wood worth your investment. 

7. Cypress, the Best Outdoor Wood for DIY Garden Projects

Cypress, the Best Outdoor Wood for DIY Garden Projects

I love my DIY outdoor wood projects using cypress. Here is why. This timber has abundant natural oil supplies making it highly resistant to rot, insect infestation, and water. But the most significant reason for my love of cypress is its lightness and qualities, such as a lovely grain pattern.

With hues varying from light yellow, brown to dark reddish, it’s a combination of these factors that attract my attention. I must also say the color and grain pops more when you coat the wood. If you are keen to have your outdoor furniture stand out, cypress can be your better option. However, its longevity can only be for a while, especially if you leave it untreated and unfinished. I also suggest you only go for mature trees which have a good reputation.

Is cypress expensive? I would say no because the tree native to the southeastern United States is a fast grower and abundant. Therefore, it is less costly. But I should quickly add that the cost depends on your location. For example, you might have to fork out more money if your site has more cedar.

Expert Wood Maintenance Tips

A considerable percentage of the above-mentioned outdoor wood species require only minimal maintenance. However, it would also be good to follow expert advice concerning wood maintenance to help keep your furniture in excellent condition. So here are some of the suggestions.

UV preservative application 

You may not need treatment if you are using an excellent resistant wood species. But if you want to retain your wood’s original color and texture, a UV preservative application comes in handy. The preservative also protects your outdoor furniture from any ravaging elements.

Regular cleanup

Another way to keep the wood in excellent condition is by cleaning it up every couple of months. And all you need is some sandpaper and some soapy water. Although you may not have to use sandpaper in most situations, scrubbing can make your wood look as good as new once in a while.

Otherwise, clean your furniture with soapy water to remove all the dust and grime that would have gathered over several months. You can then coat it with your favorite wood stain. Painting can also protect the wood from pests, insects, and elements.

I suggest you do the cleaning on a sunny and warm day to allow your furniture to dry up before you can apply any wood stain or paint. Again, sticking to this schedule will help your furniture retain not just its color but durability too. 

All-weather varnish

A weatherproof varnish can also help keep your outdoor wood furniture in pristine condition. You can apply the varnish immediately after you finish your DIY. Then do repeat touch ups, say, after a very couple of years.

How do you apply the varnish? The simple method is to use at least two coats of regular waterproofing finish in the first instant. You can then add two coats of thinner coating for perfect results. The varnish protects your outdoor furniture from any harsh elements, be it the sun, rain, or snow. Even dust does not affect your wood anymore, and it is easier to clean.


Planning for outdoor DIY projects may be one thing. Using suitable wood is another subject altogether. If you are starting, you might not know the best wood to use for the exact project. Whether it is decking, flooring, or the usual chair/table furniture, you need the most durable wood that can best survive in the outdoors.

As mentioned above, the best outdoor wood is hardwood. But some softwood also makes a list. Most hardwood qualities are rot and pest resistance because they have oil and extraction properties that keep any irritants away.

Softwood such as Redwood has those insects and water repellent characteristics. But I suggest keeping them high and above the grass to avoid too much moisture from seeping in.

Finally, wood degrades over time. But with regular maintenance, you can cheat fate. Regular cleaning, repeat all-weather varnish application, and use of UV preservatives could be all you need to keep your wood in excellent condition for decades.