Budget Exterior Wood

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supertom44

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I'm looking to build a couple of benches for my garden, but want something budget friendly.

The two options I've considered are pressure treated lumber or untreated lumber with exterior paint.

I've red conflicting information, some say if it's outside it has to be pressure treated others say exterior paint or finish on untreated are fine.

Or are there alternatives that are still budget friendly.

I'd love to make them out of some nice hardwood like cedar or cypress, but think it'll cost too much.

Cheers.
 
If your on a tight budget then consider reclaimed timber ,pallet wood if you can deal with the nails and rough sawn timber , pressure treated is likely to be expensive but should last longer ,, but I’ve had decent results with untreated timber painted or varnished ( exterior paint or yacht varnish .
 
Cedar would likely be too soft for a bench it can dent and scratch quite easily.
Southern yellow pine is quite nice and not expensive, not sure if its rated durable though.
For hardwoods they sell keruing truck deck boards for a fairly reasonable price, Sweet chestnut is supposed to be good outside, Larch, Douglas fir.
Otherwise see if you can reclaim some.

Doors and windows are not made from pressure treated and they are half outside, it all depends on the protection you put on it I guess.
 
The death of exterior timber is from remaining damp for long periods. Parts in contact with the ground, joints where water can enter and not dry out, and horizontal surfaces are all prime examples. Doors don’t tend to have any of these elements and hence are not typically treated.

Building out of non pressure treated softwood is an option if you can keep it largely dry, otherwise it’ll last roughly 5-10 years depending on exposure.
 
Larch is a good exterior wood if you can get it direct from a local sawmill, a timber / builders merchant will fleece you.

Otherwise tannalised.
Our local fencing place is doing 60x20mm rounded edge timber which is ideal for bench seat slats. Worth looking out for.
 
I personally would not choose traditional yacht varnish on a bench. It is designed to be easily scraped from topsides and brightwork at the annual chamfering-up.

Try Ronseal Furniture Stain or Cuprinol Wood Stain* for example, but there are others.

*Has the advantage of being waterbased for easy clean up. Buy a brush specifically for synthetic finishes.
 
we have a "wood reclamation" (at least, that's what I'd call it) place near us that often has recycled french wagon boards that are sold as Azobe (I seriously doubt it is, but doesn't matter as it's seriously dense and durable). I strongly suspect they'd last outdoors forever. Maybe have a look and see if there's something similar near you.
 
Thanks all for the replies much appreciated.

I'm thinking of spending more on the bench build and use something like white oak, and save money on the planters that I need to build. Considering I'll be building many planters but only one bench, makes a bit more sense to make the one bench really nice.
 
I'm looking to build a couple of benches for my garden, but want something budget friendly.

The two options I've considered are pressure treated lumber or untreated lumber with exterior paint.

I've red conflicting information, some say if it's outside it has to be pressure treated others say exterior paint or finish on untreated are fine.

Or are there alternatives that are still budget friendly.

I'd love to make them out of some nice hardwood like cedar or cypress, but think it'll cost too much.

Cheers.
You could try American White Cedar, if you can get it. Highly durable; relatively cheap. Not fancy, but functional . .
 
White oak isn't very durable.
Not entirely true. American white oak heartwood is classified as moderately durable (10 - 15 years) and the heartwood of European oak as durable (15 - 25 years. In both cases the sapwood is liable to fungal and insect attack. I have found that in service American white oak is not quite as durable as European oak, so the categorisations or classifications are about right. Slainte.
 
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If you have access to a suitable table saw, oak gateposts can economically be cut down and a 'green oak' approach used to make outdoor furniture. Heat shrinking a plastic 'sock' from lemonade bottles takes care of contact with soil\grass and nothing but a clear insecticide treatment, draw- doweling with dry joints, (can we still get white lead paint to dress tenons?) will give a lovely grey timeless finish.
 
Cedar has rocketed in price since covid, as much as its nice to work with, nice to look at etc its not worth the price it is now (in my opinion)

Have a look at Grandis (Eucalyptus). Fairly newish wood to the commercial market. Its fast growing (like pine) so providing you want 25/32/38/50mm sawn, you are OK. With it being fast growing, environmental certification is good which means its easy to import/export. This wood is becoming more and more frequent. If you look at a lot of outdoor furniture, it'll be Eucalyptus. If you look at plywood, a lot of the faces are now Eucalyptus. Its available in thicker sections - 63/75mm - but as laminated/finger jointed. You'll see a lot of this wood now getting used in the external door and window industry.
Eucalyptus will also stain well, so it'll give you a good appearance of oak. Its also got a decent Durability rating.

You could also look at Thermowood (Redwood) and Sapele, both of these will be relatively well priced.
 

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