DIY: Best Wood For Outdoor Bench Slats (5 Great Options Compared)

Are you thinking about building an outdoor bench?

Do you find yourself wondering more and more often what type of wood you should use for the slats in the bench you want to build?

Why is it important to choose the best wood for outdoor bench slats, anyway?

In this article, we’ll show you five great options you might consider using for your outdoor bench building project. Some of these types of wood are better than others in terms of their usability in the outdoors, so make sure you read through all of them to understand which ones you might want to work with and which you may prefer to pass on.

It’s very important to pick the right type of wood so you don’t end up with a bench that becomes damaged due to heat, humidity, rain, wind, or pests. There are a lot of problems that can befall wood when it’s used in the wrong setting, so taking the time to research your wooden bench options can make a big difference in the longevity of the products you build.

Below, we’ve broken down five types of wood to help you better understand why you might want to use them outdoors and what you can expect from them, too. So let’s get started learning!

1. Red Cedar

What tree it comes from: Eastern red cedar

Outdoor Use Benefits:

  • This type of wood is resistant to pests due to its smell.
  • Red cedar doesn’t decay outdoors very quickly.
  • This wood doesn’t require pre treating in order to be able to be used outside.

Pro​​​​s

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    This wood has a lovely warm red color and a smell that many people find pleasant.
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    The texture of this wood is very even and easy to work with.
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    This type of wood looks great whether it’s finished or not.

Cons

  • Sometimes, your tools may be dulled from working with this type of wood.
  • Most red cedar will have some knots present in the wood.
  • Very high-quality red cedar may be quite expensive.

2. White Oak

What tree it comes from: White oak

Outdoor Use Benefits:

  • This is a great water-resistant type of wood that holds up particularly well to being used in the rain and in humidity, too.
  • This wood doesn’t swell too badly when it’s used in humid and very warm places.
  • This is a widely available type of wood that is commonly used for all sorts of outdoor and interior purposes both.

Pros

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    The color of this wood is an elegant and lovely shade of olive.
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    This wood is great for use in things like boat building that require a wood that won’t decay easily.
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    You can use glue and stain on this wood easily, and you can also  use finishes on it.

Cons

  • The texture of this wood is uneven and may be a little harder to work with than some others out there.
  • Rings and pores will be obvious in most cuts of this wood.
  • This wood reacts badly with iron and may become discolored from exposure to it.

3. White Pine

What tree it comes from: Eastern white pine

Outdoor Use Benefits:

  • This type of wood is used in a lot of outdoor applications as well as some indoor ones, making it a good all-purpose wood.
  • This wood does have some decay resistance, although it’s important to note that other types of wood listed here are more resistant to decay than white pine is.
  • This wood may be prone to pest infestation in some instances, largely depending on where you live.

Pr​​​​os

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    The color of this wood starts off light brown and can get darker with age, giving it a beautiful, rustic feeling even when it isn’t finished or stained.
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    The texture of this wood is even and easy to work with whether you’re using hand tools or power tools.
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    You can use both glue and finish on this type of wood very easily and with no trouble.

Cons

  • This type of wood has a slight resin odor that may be unpleasant to some people, especially while you’re in the process of working with it.
  • This wood can cause allergic and asthmatic reactions in some people, either while working with it or while using it as furniture.
  • This is a very common type of wood that some people prefer not to work with simply because they find it a little overused, but this is a matter of opinion.

4. Mahogany

What tree it comes from: Mountain mahogany

Outdoor Use Benefits:

  • This is an extremely durable type of wood that doesn’t become damaged easily at all.
  • This wood is usually resistant to pest infestation.
  • This wood has a beautiful naturally red color.

Pr​​​​os

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    The color of this wood darkens with age, giving it a nice worn look that many people prefer to the appearance of newly cut wood.
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    This type of wood has a beautiful natural luster that doesn’t usually require any type of staining or finishing.
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    This type of wood doesn’t have any noticeable odors and doesn’t usually bother anyone with allergies or asthma, either.

Cons

  • Mahogany can be very difficult to work with because it’s a dense type of wood that is also resistant to cutting.
  • This type of wood is often not used for lumber, so it is a specialty wood that will likely require a custom order.
  • You may not be able to use this type of wood to make many large items.

5. Cypress

What tree it comes from: Cypress

Outdoor Use Benefits:

  • This type of lumber is very durable and resistant to decay.
  • Because it has a sour smell, cypress is resistant to insects.
  • This type of wood doesn’t get damaged by water too easily.

Pr​​​​os

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    Cypress takes paint, glue, and finish very well.
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    This wood is available in pieces without knots.
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    This is a common type of lumber that’s easy to find.

Cons

  • It is possible to end up with cypress that has been afflicted with a fungus, making it look pockmarked.
  • This wood feels greasy when it is not finished.
  • This wood may tear if it is not cut with a very sharp instrument.

Conclusion

Did you find a good wood option for your bench? Consider the type of project you’re looking to build in order to better determine which of these is the best pick for you. And don’t forget that you may need to stain or finish some of these types of wood to ensure they last even longer outdoors. Each type has different requirements for use outside, so pay close attention and remember to pick up a high-quality waterproof outdoor stain or varnish for any benches you want to finish in this way. You may also choose to paint your bench, but again, pick a good quality paint that will hold up to the weather if you go this route.

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