When it comes to using timber furniture outdoors, it’s a tricky business. Timber is a natural product that is constantly moving. The elements affect the way it moves and how much, and therefore the timbers that are used outside must be compatible with movement.

What timber styles can be used outdoors?

As the weather cools and heats, the timber expands and contracts. If the timber used is a solid piece, this is when it will move and form cracks in the surface.

For this reason, we encourage the timber used to be slatted, rather than solid. This allows for the timber to move, without forming large cracks in the surface. However, cracks are inevitable in timber as it is a natural product that is always alive. Therefore, cracks become a part of its rustic charm.

Slatted timber tops will be oiled, rather than coated. The coating on solid table tops causes pressure as the wood tries to move and therefore creates the large cracks in the surface. With the oiled surface, this gives the wood more movement and the oil makes the timber weather resistant.

“From an interior design perspective, properly selected timber furniture, especially table tops can be the warmest and most inviting additions to a venue. This can really raise the bar and set a venue apart from the rest.” – Jarrad Dartnall, National Sales Manager at Adage Furniture.

If you are looking for a table top to be used in your outdoor areas that will continue to look the same year round with minimal maintenance, it may be better to look at a compact laminate or resin table top. Timber may not be a good option for you.

What timbers can be used outdoors?

When it comes to the types of timber used outdoors, there are a few options. Softwoods that have natural moisture-wicking properties such as cypress or cedar are ok options for your outdoor furniture, however we would encourage you look for furniture made from a hardwood such as teak.

Over time timbers left out in the elements will turn to a silver-grey colour, which is a feature in itself, however if this isn’t the look you’re looking for, teak is particularly easy to restore back to its former colour. For this reason, teak is the preferred timber that is used for outdoor furniture. Teak is one of the most durable woods as its natural oils give it amazing weather-resistant properties. Teak furniture is less likely to warp in humidity changes and will naturally repel water.

Caring for your outdoor timber furniture

Due to your outdoor timber products being oiled, rather than coated with a clear coating, you will need to maintain a regular oiling schedule. This should be done regularly, as needed.

Our recommendation for the oil to use is the Feast Watson Natural Furniture Oil and we’ve found the best application is rubbing it over your products with a rag.

For outdoor timber furniture that has gone grey (as mentioned above), we would recommend sanding the timber back until you reach raw timber, and then reoil it. The grey look happens when timber has been left in the elements for long periods of time without maintenance. By sanding it back and reoiling, it will restore the timber back to its original colour.