Choosing the Right Garden Furniture

Chinese oak is a very dense, and fine-grained hardwood, with a heart that is a lighter shade of brown, lending those sections a pinkish tone that is reminiscent of Western Red Cedar. Tannic acid is a natural substance in the Chinese Oak, which acts as a deterrent to fungus and insects, in the same manner as resinous oil does for teak, and tannin in cedar, as well. It looks very much like a quality teak wood, and is considered to be slightly harder than the Red Oak. Oak is a traditional choice for outdoor furniture, and is generally considered a good value.

Cedar is a material that many people prefer for both its rustic and “down home” appeal. A softwood, cedar has the same tannic oils as Chinese oak, which prevents attack by mildew when the wood is consistently wet, deep down. A very durable wood, it’s estimated to have 80% of the strength of oak, but is a much lighter material, important when it comes to moving chairs or seats for mowing the lawn. Natural Red Cedar is extremely popular, so much so, that it is often reproduced out of other materials, so check and make sure your furniture is real red cedar, and not a look alike. Northern White Cedar is also popular, and provides a lighter, brighter look to your patio sets and swings or loungers. If you acquire plain wood garden furniture and want to finish it, try a single coat of a semi-transparent stain that has sun-screening properties. Otherwise, it can be left to age to a natural silver-gray.

Teak is an extremely durable, tight-grained hardwood, that is not only strong, but extremely attractive, and comes in a range of natural shades. The rubber and natural oil content provide extra protection against fungus that can set in when the wood is wet for prolonged periods. It’s so impervious to the weather, that some people leave their garden furniture outside, year-round without covers. Natural teak that is relatively “new”, has a sheen from the oils released in the cutting of the wood. This disappears after a few days outdoors, and unfinished teak that is left to age, will turn a lovely, silvery-gray color. At that point, it may look as if it needs paint, but paint is not likely to adhere properly, due to the natural oil content of the wood.

Mahogany is more a choice for indoor than garden furniture, but it certainly adds a touch of class to the patio. Known for its strength and weather-resistance, this hardwood produced in the tropics is naturally resistant to rot, insects and fungus. The natural color ranges from a rich, deep brown, all the way up through deep, dark reds and even sometimes to a purplish tinge. There is minimal shrinkage with weathering, and if you choose to put some maintenance work into it, instead of leaving it to weather on its own, try regular applications of a water-repellant.

About the Author

Johann Erickson is a contributing writer for sites such as Helpful Home Ideas. Please include an active link to our site if you'd like to reprint this article.

Johann Erickson