Buying Outdoor Wood Furniture – 5 Things to Know

Before you purchase any outdoor wooden furniture, learn what to look for and how to make sure it will last. Nothing matches the quality of a finely crafted wooden chair or lounger. If you are a homeowner looking to make an investment in your backyard, or maybe turn it into a country getaway, remember these 5 essential points when buying your wood furniture set. Properly constructed wood furniture can last a lifetime and provide seasons of enjoyment with very little maintenance BUT – it all starts with choosing a quality set.

1. Type of wood. When selecting wood furniture, first ask what type of wood is used and if the wood is solid stock or laminate. Each species of wood has different characteristics and reactions to the environment. Consider your weather, temperatures and sun exposure when selecting outdoor furniture. No matter which wood you choose, ask about its characteristics so you know what is required to maintain it before you buy. Cedar has been rated as the ‘best’ wood for outdoor furniture. Its natural oils make Cedar the most resistant to weather, water and insect infestation. Cedar is also naturally more stable and lighter in weight than other woods. It can be stained or simply left natural. Untreated Cedar has the same qualities as stained Cedar. Just note that untreated or natural Cedar will “silver out” or grey in a season or two.

2. Wood Thickness. Consider the thickness of the pieces of wood used. Stock lumber is most often milled to ¾” making this the industry minimum standard to maintain integrity and overall strength in wood for furniture building. This ¾” minimum has a tendency to become “wobbly” over time. Yes, all wood swells, shrinks and loosens, however, chairs made of ¾” stock seem to have a more significant “wobble effect.” Try looking for furniture made from 1″ stock.

3. Wood Appearance. To be or KNOT to be. Each species of wood has its own characteristics. Wood grains vary in appearance based upon the species and cut of the wood. Consider how knots are used in the construction of your furniture. While they can be attractive in giving wood a “rustic” or “woodsy” feel, knots weaken the strength and integrity of wood. Notice where the knots are in the planks; in the center of boards they generally do not pose a problem. If they’re at the end grain or edges of a plank, it is likely the board will crack or split at the knot or worse.

4. Choice of Hardware. Also consider the nuts, bolts and screws of outdoor furniture. Hopefully the appropriate hardware has been used but remember buying furniture that’s “assembly required,” means it’s pre-drilled, with inexpensive hardware. To save time and money factories usually use punch threaded receivers and cheap bolts to maximize profit and ease assembly with a hex wrench. Make sure to ask how the furniture is put together. The best way to join two pieces of wood is through a combination of glue and screws. Glue offers the strongest unbreakable bond because it fuses the wood on a molecular level and screws hold wood together by force and pressure. With this heavy-duty combination, basic and inexpensive galvanized or plated screws and bolts are perfectly effective. Shop for “assembled” pieces but ask how they are put together. Make sure it’s using the “glue and screw method.”

5. Comfortableness of Design. Perhaps the most important consideration is comfort. We’ve all sat in chairs that look great but were extremely uncomfortable. Like an Adirondack chair that feels okay but after 5 minutes our legs fall asleep or we can’t get out of the darn thing. Comfortable furniture is ergonomically designed, meaning it is curved in all the right places. Test each piece of furniture before you buy. Are the armrests high or low enough for you? Can you get in and out of the chair easily? If it’s a chair, sit in it. If it’s a lounger, lounge in it. If it has adjustable features, adjust them. This is the only way to tell whether the furniture is right for you.

Now remember the 5 Things to Know, Before You Buy Your Outdoor Wood Furniture and make sure to put this information to good use. You’ll be glad you did.