Wood species are not created equal. Some have inherent weather- resistant qualities, others do not. Some have tight, straight-grained wood that resists shrinking and warping, while others crack or split when exposed to weather. Some species shrink, oxidize and turn gray while others remain stable and retain consistent color year after year.
Pine is a western hemisphere softwood. It doesn't weather particularly good without some type of waterproofing or top-coat. For aesthetic purposes alone, waterproofing must be applied to prevent the surface of pine from oxidizing into a bluish-gray color. It's necessary to grade pine before using it outdoors to remove knots or cracks that may be present, as these defects lead to weather related problems. Pine is also prone to shrinkage, twisting and warping, because of inconsistent grain patterns and may not be applicable for any outdoor projects.
Redwood is at the top of the list for natural weather resistance. It is uniform, straight-grained and lightweight. It's strong and has a lack of resin that makes it almost fireproof. It will not shrink, warp or twist. Redwood is almost free from defects and will not change color. It is almost completely invulnerable to rot or decay and the lack of pitch in its pores allows waterproofing to penetrate deep into the wood for extra protection if so desired. Redwood is highly prized for decking and exterior framing, both aesthetic and structural.
Fir is among the strongest of lumber, making it resistant to high winds. It is straight-grained and not prone to warping. It has a moderate amount of natural moisture resistance, but fir will oxidize and turn gray without some type of waterproofing. Fir is one of the only exterior woods that is graded for aesthetic purposes and can be purchased with few or multiple knots, and knots can be detrimental for weather applications. Fir will shrink causing knots to become loose and fall out.
Cedar is prized for its aromatic odor and natural resistance to rot and insect damage. Its lightness also make it great for its insulating qualities against weather. It is straight-grained and not prone to shrinkage. Cedar has one of the best moisture-resistant qualities of any wood and can remain in contact with water without waterproofing. For this reason, cedar is used for such diverse applications as fence posts, siding and fence rails.
- Photo Credit planking image by Alexander Mironov from Fotolia.com
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