Is Hickory Wood A Good Choice For Outdoor Furniture?

Outdoor furniture needs to be made with strong, weather-resistant timber. Now, Hickory may be strong, but it is far from weather-resistant.

Notorious for warping and cracking, this fragrant timber may be one to avoid, for exterior furniture.

So, in this post, you’ll learn why tough wood does not mean that it’s also weatherproof. You will also discover why Hickory lumber rarely lasts long in the great outdoors.

And keep reading to find out the best choice timber for outdoor furniture.

is hickory good for outdoor furniture

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What Is The Most Weather Resistant Wood?

One of the most naturally weatherproof woods is Teak wood. This timber is rot-resistant, bug-resistant, and even water-resistant.

And this is all because of Teak woods oil content.

Teak wood has a lot of natural tree oil saturating its grain. In fact, there’s so much oil in it, that it can be hard to apply a penetrating finish onto Teak. For example, oil-based wood stains struggle to sink down into this hardwood.

Now, Teak woods natural oils act like a typical penetrating oil finish. It coats wood fibers, preventing water from being absorbed. This helps keep wood rot and damp at bay. Which in turn, makes it difficult for bugs to munch down on this tough timber.

Which is another thing. This timber is very hard. Its harder than even Cedar wood and Mahogany. Which is why Teak wood is used for garden furniture and decking.

Related Post: What’s The Real Difference Between A Teak Vs Acacia Cutting Board?

What About Hickory? Is Hickory Good Furniture Wood?

Well, Hickory is an incredibly tough hardwood. Based on their Janka ratings, (which measures the compressional strength of wood), Hickory woods toughness dwarfs Teak wood.

The Janka rating measures how much force it takes to break a piece of lumber. The higher the Janka rating, (measured as ‘lbf’ pounds of force), the harder the lumber.

Hickory wood has a Janka rating of 1820 lbf, which means that it’ll take 1820 pounds of force to crack this timber. While Teak wood has a Janka rating range of between 1000 lbf and 1155 lbf.

Hickory’s toughness is a big reason why this timber is used for interior flooring, indoor furniture pieces, and cabinetry. And it is so hard, that Hickory wood is difficult to work and machine. And can dull — and even sometimes damage — saws and other tools.

Quick Question…What Is Compressional Strength?

Compressional strength measures how well a piece of wood (or other solid material) holds up against compressional stress. To put it a little more simply; compressional stress = crushing force.

What About Outdoor Furniture? Is Hickory Suitable For Exterior Pieces?

Based on it’s strength alone, it’s easy to believe that Hickory should be durable enough to last outside.

Except for the fact that Hickory has no natural weatherproofing. While Teak wood has high concentration of tree oils to protect it, Hickory has nothing to prevent water from soaking right down into it.

Which means that if Hickory is placed outside, exposed to rainwater and humidity, it will become very damp. And that in turn will allow rot and bugs to attack this lumber.

Related Post: What Is The Best Plywood For Outdoor Use? (Solved!)

Does Hickory Wood Warp?

Hickory wood will warp, because it is simply not a stable wood.

And What Exactly Is A ‘Stable’ Wood?

Well, stable types of wood do not shift around and crack as they dry out.

You see, when wood absorbs water and moisture, it expands. And as it dries out afterward, it shrinks. This movement often results in wood warping or wood checks (i.e. cracking).


However, certain types of wood barely expand or shrink when they absorb water or dry out. They stay ‘stable’ throughout, even with changes in humidity.

As a result, these stable wood types, (such as Douglas Fir for example), don’t warp.

But, unfortunately, Hickory wood is not a stable wood at all. Far from it. Rather, Hickory woods propensity to warp is legendary, and it’s one of the most warp-prone lumbers out there.

Does Hickory Wood Darken With Age? It does, but it is a gradual process. It takes around 7 or 8 months for Hickory to turn from a fresh cream to a reddish amber.

To Wrap Up, Here Are The 3 Key Takeaways From This Post…

  • 1). Hickory wood is a very tough hard timber, and its used for everything from flooring to furniture.
  • 2). Hickory wood is very warp prone and can crack if exposed to water and humidity. So, it is an unsuitable choice for outdoor furniture.
  • 3). The best choice for outdoor furniture is Teak wood. This hardwood has unique characteristics that help make it naturally weatherproof.