What type of wood and finish do you recommend to build benches for outside use? – James Hamilton
Tim Inman: It all depends….. What are your needs? Utility? Decorative effects? Longevity? Ease of work? Budget? The answers to these questions will guide you into more limited choices. Treated pine lumber is cheap, easy to work, and lasts pretty well — though it is not as permanent as the marketers might like you to think. Redwood or teak are much more durable, and great looking. They weather into a nice, soft silver-gray. They are much more difficult to join, and they are expensive. Neither class of wood really needs a finish. Actually, I’d probably select a wood that patinates to a nice look outdoors without a finish. Why? Because there is no long-term finish — save paint — that will weather well outside. Even paint doesn’t last that long. The world is your oyster on this one.