When you’re planning an outdoor project, you want to choose the type of building materials that can keep up with Mother Nature. If you fail to do this, you’re going to end up with lumber that rots which can lead to pests and can be extremely dangerous for anyone walking on it. So, what is the best wood for outdoor use? You have several options with some being naturally wood-resistant and others treated to hold up to the weather. 

We’re going to look at the various choices out there, as well as the most popular ones, so you can choose the one that best suits your project.

Different Types of Wood for Outdoor Use

At Capitol City Lumber, we like to educate our customers about the products they’re choosing for their projects. In our business, this means letting them know about the best wood for outdoor use for their projects. 

Treated Yellow Pine

Treated yellow pine is the most common wood used outdoors in our area. This is mainly because it is economical. Although it may be easy on your wallet, yellow pine does not hold up outdoors without treatment

Years ago, pine was treated with CCA (copper, chromium, and arsenate). Since the early 1990’s when CCA treatment became unavailable, other treatments began to come onto the market. 

At Capitol City Lumber, we prefer selling Durapine by Cox lumber which is treated with Wolman copper azole. This treatment is:

  • Odorless
  • Clean to the Touch
  • Free of arsenic (restricted by the EPA)

This treatment uses copper and azole as its preservative ingredients. It also helps to protect against termite and fungal decay. If you’re thinking about using this type of wood, you should know that if the boards are cut, the pressure treatment process should allow the chemicals to reach through the pine boards to protect them.

Things to Know About Yellow Pine

  • Our treated yellow pine decking and most dimensional treated yellow pine boards on our yard are treated to above-ground treatment. 
  • They are intended to be used 18” or more above the ground. 
  • Only the 2×12 dimensional boards (often used for stair stringers), and all timbers including  4×4s, 4×6s, 6×6, and 8×8 are treated with a heavier treatment and considered at-ground contact. 
  • Ground contact treatment is needed on these boards and timbers to hold up better to an environment directly in contact with the ground.

Redwood and Cedar

While pine is the best exterior softwood for the money, Redwood and Cedar are better exterior softwoods for stability. Redwood and Cedar are pinkish, with heart redwood being a darker pink than Western Red Cedar

Characteristics of Redwood and Cedar

When you’re looking for the best wood for outdoor use, both of these types of wood are naturally resistant to rot and decay, along with being termite and insect-resistant. 

Redwood and cedar are also known to:

  • Resist warping and twisting
  • Stays straighter when used in an outdoor application, making them ideal for fences, decks, and arbors
  • Environmentally friendly (reduces greenhouse gasses in the environment)
  • Contain little resin and are easy to stain

Our rough #2 grade Western Red Cedar is popular for garden beds. It is more economical, is naturally resistant to rot and decay, and has no chemicals added to the wood.

Many people choose redwood for outdoor projects because it resists checking and cracking. Both Redwood and Western Red Cedar are ideal for above-ground applications.  Both species can still be used at ground level, but may not have as long of a life as ground contact treated yellow pine. 

Redwood and Western Red Cedar Treatment

An after-market treatment can be applied to any untreated raw wood.  Rust-Oleum® Wolman™ makes a below-ground treatment that includes an EPA-registered, insecticidal preservative that prohibits termite damage, rot, and decay.  Choose from either ™ WOODLIFE® COPPERCOAT™ or WOODLIFE® CREOCOAT®. Both are sold in 1-gallon containers.

There is also a clear version for above-ground treatments to any untreated wood to provide longer life. This WOODLIFE® CLASSIC formula, available in quarts and gallons, is 100% clear and is designed to be applied to the raw wood before you paint or stain. This treatment is a water repellent to protect against warping and checking along with protecting against rot, decay and surface mold, and mildew. This treatment is ideal for:

  • Storm doors
  • Porch flooring
  • Woodhouse trim
  • Molding and outdoor furniture made of untreated wood

At Capitol City Lumber, we have a full stock of redwood and cedar to choose from in many sizes and grades.

Eastern White Cypress

Eastern White Cypress is another softwood that holds up well to the weather in this part of the country. It is naturally resistant to rot and decay like many of the other options. It’s also a lighter wood, more similar to pine. We have several sizes of Cypress in a select clear grade.

Other Wood Choices

There are also a few other dense hardwoods with a closed cellular structure that holds up well to exterior elements. They are all resistant to rot and decay. These include:

For centuries, people made whisky barrels and ships out of White Oak because its tight gran is water and rot resistant. 

Teak is exceptionally durable and resistant to wet climates, which is why it’s often used in boat building. It also has natural botanical oils that make it water-resistant as well as insect and termite-resistant. Teak does not check or crack out in the weather compared to other woods.

It’s important to note that all woods, including the hardwoods listed above, will fade to a weathered gray in the sun when left untreated. 

Are You Looking to Complete a Wood Project?

If you’re looking for lumber for a project, we’ve got you covered. Capitol City Lumber is the place for amazing promotions on different types of wood. We also provide wood cutting services so you get the perfect fit for your project.

In the Raleigh or Durham area? Visit us at the Old Timey lumber yard based on Raleigh, North Carolina! Need lumber shipped to your door? We also ship anywhere within the continental United States and some parts of Canada!

Call us today at 919.832.6492 or reach out to us online for more information. Discover why so many in the Raleigh area trust Capitol City Lumber.