Is White Oak Good For Making Durable Outdoor Furniture?

Outdoor furniture needs to be made from durable weather-resistant lumber. That’s because those beautiful garden pieces won’t last long if wood rot eats away at them.

Now, there are a variety of different wood types that can handle whatever Mother Nature throws at them. Cedar and Teak wood, for example, are naturally rot-resistant, allowing them to easily fight off decay and insects.

Yet how does White Oak compare? Is this durable hardwood just as weatherproof?…

is white oak good for outdoor furniture

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What’s The Best Wood For Outdoor Furniture?

Outdoor furniture needs to be made from wood that doesn’t warp and crack, (due to changes in humidity). Also, outdoor timber needs to be resistant to wood rot, and bug attacks.

And last, but not least, outdoor lumber needs to be tough enough to shrug off scratches and dents.

With that in mind, one of the best timbers for outdoor furniture has to be Teak wood. This tropical hardwood is an incredibly oily timber, with natural tree oils saturating its grain.

That tree oil acts like a natures-own wood preservative, preventing water and bugs from sinking into Teak wood. In fact, Teak is so oily, it can be difficult to apply a penetrating finish onto this timber.

So as a result of this oil-saturation, Teak wood is naturally moisture resistant, and doesn’t warp and shift.

Another reason for Teak woods durability is its density. It’s tougher than Genuine Mahogany and Cedar wood. So, it doesn’t scratch or crack easily when handled.

This is why Teak wood is popularly used for garden furniture, boats, and decking.

Related Post: Can You Apply Lemon Oil On A Teak Wood Surface?

What About White Oak? Is White Oak Rot Resistant?

Yes it is. It’s not quite as durable as Teak wood (which is in a league of its own). Still, White Oak won’t quickly succumb to wood rot.

However, White Oak isn’t oily like Teak wood. Instead, White Oak has a couple of unique characteristics that help weatherproof it;

1). Tyloses

White Oaks wood pores are sealed over with an unusual growth called Tyloses.

Typically these growths form on plants that are trying to survive drought or insect attacks. You see, Tyloses grow over wood pores and seals them. And this prevents moisture from escaping, or bugs from burrowing in.

So when it comes to furniture, Tyloses prevent White Oak from readily absorbing water/moisture.

Side Note: Red Oak does not have Tyloses. Which is why Red Oak is not suitable for outdoor furniture.

Related Post: Beginners Guide To Reducing Oak Grain Contrast (Explained)

2). Tannins

White Oak wood contains a natural fungicide called Tannins. Tannins are a chemical compound that prevent bacteria from thriving on tree bark.

However, this isn’t unique to White Oak. Tannins are widely found in all kinds of trees and plants.

But, what makes White Oak special is it’s high Tannin concentration. Oak wood contains high amounts of this compound. So much so, that Oak wood often ‘bleeds’ with this brown-staining substance.

And How Long Will White Oak Furniture Last Outside? A White Oak wood garden set can last up to 20 years, even if you leave it unsealed and untreated.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Using White Oak Wood For Furniture?

Tannins do a great job at staving off rot, but this compound tends to react with a lot of things.

For example, if you use steel wool to finish Oak wood, the steel will react with those Tannins. And that reaction will cause discoloration and unsightly stains.

And if you use an oil-based finish or paint on Oak, Tannins may effect that oil finishes ability to dry evenly. This is why you need to seal Oak wood before you apply a top coating paint finish onto it.

Does White Oak Warp? It’s resistant to warping, because it doesn’t soak up water easily.

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

  • 1). White Oak wood is naturally weather-resistant, thanks to wood-pore sealing growths called Tyloses.
  • 2). White Oak also contains an excessive amount of a natural rot-resisting compound called Tannins.
  • 3). White Oak is tough and durable, making it a solid choice for outdoor furniture.

Related Post: Is Hickory Wood A Good Choice For Outdoor Furniture?


Aloui, F., et al. “Durability of European oak (Quercus petraea and Quercus robur) against white rot fungi (Coriolus versicolor): relations with phenol extractives.” Holz als Roh-und Werkstoff 62.4 (2004): 286-290.

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