What is the best material for outdoor furniture?

May 27, 2024

In our article we will guide you through the best type of wood for outdoor furniture, Black Locust lumber that will withstand extreme weather conditions.

When evaluating outdoor furniture, you’re probably going to look for similar characteristics that you value in indoor seating and surface areas, such as comfort, style, and durability. The biggest difference, however, is that outdoor furniture has to endure exposure to extreme weather conditions. Using the right kind of wood material for outdoor furniture will save you a lot of money and headaches in the years to come. In our article we will guide you through the best type of wood for outdoor furniture, Black Locust

Factors to consider when choosing outdoor furniture material

Outdoor furniture needs to retain integrity and appearance through a variety of weather conditions. Additionally, the time and effort needed for maintenance, as well as sustainability are important aspects to take into consideration.

Emery Station West Black Locust outdoor furniture 

Rain & Moisture

If you live in an area where with frequent rainstorms, or high humidity, you want to ensure that your furniture is water-resistant. Black Locust Lumber is naturally water resistant. Pioneers used Black Locust wood to build ships that won wars. The reason behind this is that they knew Black Locust wood would last for decades. Black Locust is the perfect wood material for outdoor furniture when it comes to water resistance. 

Fungi & Rot

Humid conditions create an environment where fungi thrive. Those organic materials that retain water are prone to molding, which can cause respiratory and other health issues. Rot leads to biodegradation and decay of the material. Black Locust is naturally rot-resistant and has anti-fungal properties. They are also used as decking on yachts. Even in damp surroundings, Black Locust has a lifetime of 50+ years.

Black Locust yacht decking

Sun & Temperature

If you live in a sunny area or with extreme changes in heat, you will need to look for outdoor furniture material that can withstand damage from UV and fluctuations from extreme heat to cold.

Black Locust outdoor furniture: Gateway Historic Neighborhood in Cleveland

Heat Retention

If you think about it, heat can lead to several problems. Your outdoor furniture left out in the sun will heat up, making it uncomfortable to touch. Nobody wants to burn themselves when they sit down. The light color and material properties of Black Locust make it a cooler alternative to artificial surfaces, thus reducing the heat island effect. 

Color & Fading

Constant exposure to the sun can cause many materials to fade and lose their luster over time. The aesthetic change can be appealing (e.g. patina). Left natural, the color of Black Locust outdoor furniture develops a silvery-gray patina which is generally loved by landscape professionals and architects. The patina will not affect the durability of the wood. Take a look of pictures of Black Locust in exterior use after 5 years.

Black Locust outdoor furniture natural color 5 years in use.
NY Botanical Gardens | Native Plant Garden 2015


Some outdoor materials, such as Black Locust lumber last for decades, but another variable that relates to durability is usage. If you eat outside on your outdoor dining table only a few times each summer, then it will have less wear and tear than outdoor furniture lining the poolsides of popular upscale resorts and hotels. The more frequent the use, the more durable the materials should be.

Maintenance need & cost

Aesthetic and functional durability is affected by how well you take care of your outdoor furniture. Tropicals and Ipe outdoor furniture materials require maintenance to uphold its durability. Toxic oils and chemicals are used to clean it and keep its beauty, which raises maintenance costs. Some materials require very little attention season after season and are quick and easy to clean. Black Locust requires little to no maintenance when left natural. This is why we strongly advise to NOT use oils or any chemicals to treat Black Locust outdoor furniture. It will save you a lot of time, energy and costs if you just stick to the natural aesthetic of the wood.

Black Locust outdoor furniture at MIRA Tower in San Francisco which aims to the certification goal of LEED Gold.

Sustainability of outdoor furniture

By now it all adds up and you might have guessed that Black Locust outdoor furniture is 100% natural and durable at the same time. The conscious consumer will be happy to find Black Locust is a truly organic outdoor furniture material that is just as durable as the endangered tropicals only without the use of chemicals and lower maintenance costs.

If you are looking to build outdoor furniture of Black Locust, turn to our Black Locust Lumber specialists with several decades of experience with this unique wood type. They are available to assist you in bringing the perfect wood material to your outdoor furniture project.

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