Best Wood For Outdoor Benches

If you are looking to build a new outdoor wooden bench or resurface and old outdoor bench read on as we’ll cover the best woods you can use for your bench.

Outdoor benches are most commonly made with pressure treated pine or cedar. The problem with these species is they are soft woods that generally require annual maintenance and application of a water sealer.

Softwoods like pressure treated pine and cedar have a open and somewhat porous grain structure which can tend to absorb water almost like a sponge.

While these woods do have some resistance to rot and decay and can last many years if properly maintained.

Many people find the maintenance to be too much work, so their outdoor bench gets neglected as shown in the picture below.

Old Pressure Treated Pine Bench with Peeling Stain

Stripping the old stain off an old bench like this one can be a lot of work getting in between all the bench slats. These benches often get neglected and have paint or stain peeling off the majority of the bench.

Once this occurs the wood is left unprotected and when it rains the wood usually stays saturated for an extended time period making them often undesirable to sit on.

In addition these softwoods can give off splinters and eventually get attacked by wood boring insects which can also make them not pleasant to sit on.

Is Composite Plastic Lumber Good for Outdoor Benches?

In our years of experience selling exterior lumber for decks and other exterior projects we’ve seen too many complaints from homeowners to make us comfortable selling any plastic lumber for now.

Every week we get complaints from homeowners who installed a composite plastic deck a few years ago that need to replace their entire deck because it’s failing and the manufacturer won’t honor their warranty.

Crumbling Composite Decking

If you want to read more about all the issues homeowners have faced with these products just Google search “composite decking problems”, “composite decking complaints” or “brand name decking reviews”.

You’ll be able to read about plenty of issues homeowners have struggled with so as a result of all this feedback we generally stay away and don’t recommend these products.

The 5 Best Woods for Outdoor Benches

Ipe (pronounced EE-pay) is an all natural hardwood that is more than three times harder than teak. It has shown to last up to 75 years or more on many commercial applications such as the Coney Island boardwalk and the Brooklyn bridge.

Ipe Wood Bench

This hardwood is one of the strongest woods in the world and naturally resists wood boring insects. Ipe wood does not splinter and will not get incredibly hot like plastic lumber.

In addition it’s also naturally slip resistant, has a Class A rating for flame spread, is scratch resistant and naturally mold and fungi resistant. It’s also so dense that it does not absorb water.

All of these excellent natural properties make Ipe wood our number one recommendation for not only decks but many outdoor projects such as outdoor wood benches.

You can view our current Ipe prices here: Ipe Wood Prices

Cumaru Wood

Similar to Ipe Cumaru wood is nearly identical in terms of properties and durability. The main difference is the color color ranges from a golden tan to a reddish brown.

Cumaru Deck

You can still expect all the same excellent properties as Ipe.

This excellent wood is also low maintenance, resistant to wood boring insects and naturally resistant to rot and decay without chemicals.

One other benefit to using Cumaru is the price can be upwards of 40 percent cheaper compared to the price of Ipe wood. You can view the current Cumaru wood prices here: Cumaru Wood Prices

Tigerwood Exterior Lumber

This beautiful wood also comes from South America and is incredibly durable and beautiful. You can expect a 30+ year lifespan with Tigerwood.

Similar to the other woods we listed above Tigerwood is also resistant to wood boring insects, mold and mildew and does not splinter. This is another excellent low maintenance exterior wood material that works great for benches, decks, fences, siding and more.

Tigerwood Decking

Garapa Wood

Also known as Brazilian Ash this incredible exterior hardwood is one of the finest quality hardwoods that features a fine-grain that is light yellow to a warm golden hue.

Garapa is naturally resistant to rot, decay and insect attack and offers a 30+ year lifespan. Garapa’s proven exterior durability make it an excellent choice for outdoor benches, decks and more.

Garapa Deck

You can find more info and pricing here: Garapa wood prices

Massaranduba Wood

Also known as Brazilian Redwood Massaranduba is much more durable than California Redwood, has a longer lifespan and requires much less maintenance.

In fact Massaranduba is over 7x harder than California Redwood. With a janka hardness of 3,190 compared to California Redwood which has a janka hardness of 420.

California Redwood is a softwood and requires annual maintenance of applying a water sealer to keep water out of the grain of the wood to prolong its life and prevent rot and decay.

Just like the first four species of exterior hardwoods that we recommended, Massaranduba naturally resists rot, decay and wood boring insects.

In addition Massaranduba is also a very low maintenance exterior hardwood and offers a 30+ year lifespan. This makes it great for many projects such as exterior wood benches, decks, siding and more.

Checkout these beautiful outdoor wood benches that were built with our beautiful South American hardwoods.

14 thoughts on “Best Wood For Outdoor Benches”

  1. i am making a diving board. 1 piece of Brazilian hardwood TAMBUIA, IPE 2X18-24X106. I HEARD THIS WOOD was the best choice for this. if thicker is a option. i might be willing to go a little thicker or thinner. Is this something you could help me with. Or could you spare some advice if not. From everything I have seen, your the best fit.. I am doing this for my family the poll is 11ft deep. Could also see the option of longer to be safe. just want to do it right.

  2. You can use red oak but you’ll need to keep a marine spar urethane on it which will likely peel on you each year then you’ll need to sand and reapply. On parts of the bench where you can not get to like underneath where the slats are attached to the bench moisture will get trapped and you’ll experience rot eventually. We recommend using woods such as Ipe, Cumaru, Tigerwood, Massaranduba or Garapa as these woods are known to have up to a 75 year lifespan without using water sealing top coats. You can purchase them directly on our website if you are interested:

  3. I am upgrading the wood glider that is on a south facing porch in southern Utah. Which means hot direct sun. I want to use ipe. What finish would you recommend?

  4. I’m making a bench for my school(HS so it has to be longer pieces than what you guys currently sell), said bench will sit out front of the school and be in the sun for most of the day. What wood & finish would you recommend? And where to find it?

  5. I’m rebuilding a small garden bench with wrought iron sides. Do you do custom board lengths or widths?

  6. We let you choose your lengths and we have a variety of widths for you to choose from. You can always call our sales staff for custom requests at: 1-877-232-3915. We can custom mill lumber for you.

  7. You show a bench in your web site but I find no bench size lumber.
    I need 5/8″ x 2 ” x 48 ” net Do you have any ??

  8. Cedar is acceptable but it is a softwood that requires a water sealing top coat which will eventually flake off so its more maintenance than the woods we recommended and does not last as long. Additionally the prices on cedar have gone way up so you can buy the woods we recommend at the same price or some are even cheaper.

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