When you live in an area near water or a wet climate, then the best kind of wood to get would be waterproof wood. While no wood is completely waterproof, there are some great water-resistant woods that are perfect when working on projects where the wood will be exposed to the elements.
One of the most waterproof woods you can find is teak wood. Teak wood has a lot of natural oils that make it less water-absorbent than any other wood. Another type of wood that is water-resistant is afrormosia. It is usually used for making boats and outdoor furniture and is half the price of teak.
When you buy any wood that you will use outdoors or in water, you need to find wood that won’t bend, warp or expand in moist or wet conditions. Some woods need to be treated to work best, and some don’t. So what is the best wood to use in wet conditions? I searched for the most waterproof wood, and here is what I found.
The Most Waterproof Woods
As I said before, there are no true waterproof woods, but some woods are water-resistant, and some woods need to be treated to have more water resistance. Hardwoods are the kinds of wood that offer the most water resistance and don’t need to be treated to use outdoors.
There are different types of hardwood, and their level of water resistance differs a little. Hardwoods are more water-resistant because they are extremely dense woods and have straight grooves that prevent water from penetrating the wood.
Hardwoods are low maintenance, water-resistant, warp, and rot-resistant, and are great to use on outdoor furniture, wooden cabins, and even boats and saunas. The only downsides to hardwoods are the availability and price.
Because hardwoods are in high demand but take a long time to grow, they are expensive. And for the same reason, it’s very important to get wood sustainably sourced from reliable sellers.
What Is Sustainably Sourced, Woods?
Sustainable wood is wood that comes from properly managed sustainable forests. These forests are not stripped of all their trees, and new trees are planted to replace those cut-down. These forests are sustainably managed, and they don’t damage the eco-system, landscape, natural water systems, or animals in the forest.
Illegal deforestation is a major concern in the fight to keep our forests thriving. These trees are cut down without consideration for the delicate eco-systems, animals, or water systems. The forest never recovers to its former glory if they are not correctly managed and treated after such a disaster.
Below are the most naturally water-resistant woods.
Teak wood is the most water-resistant wood you can find. Teak wood doesn’t need to be stained, sealed, or treated to be water-resistant. It has a glossy natural oil that lubricates and protects the wood from water and insects.
Teak Wood Durability And Weather Resistance
Teak wood is by far the best wood to use in any outdoor project because it has natural immunity to insects, water, and wood rot. Teak wood is the most durable wood and was used in the hay days of shipbuilding as the perfect decking material due to its durability and water resistance.
Teak wood is one of the hardest woods in the hardwood family and has features other than its natural resistance to water. Teak wood doesn’t bend, warp, become brittle or rot like other woods.
These qualities make teak wood able to withstand harsh conditions or the weather such as hail, rain, wind, and even the sun. It might get a bit dull (but it takes a long time to get dull), but a coat of its natural oil will fix it up nicely.
Teak Wood Pest Resistance And Maintenance
The same natural oil that protects teak wood from water and the elements is a natural insect repellent and works wonders at keeping insects like termites and marine bores away. Teak wood is also low maintenance.
When teak wood is harvested, it doesn’t need to be pressure treated, processed, stained, or painted. The only maintenance needed is a thin annual coat of teak oil to restore the shine. Because teak wood is so durable, it has the longest lifespan of all the hardwoods and will last 75-100 years if left outdoors in the elements.
Afrormosia Wood (African Teak)
Afrormosia wood, or African Teak, is a hardwood that comes from Africa. It is called African Teak because of its similarities to teak, even though it is not a type of teak. It is the perfect alternative to teak wood.
It possesses many of the same qualities that teak has but is much more affordable. It is not widely known in the US, but it is a beautiful wood to work with for those who do. When you want to buy afrormosia, please take caution and only buy from sustainable US sellers as afrormosia is highly regulated.
In Africa, it is not on the endangered species list yet; it might be classified as endangered in the future. Even though there are strict regulations in place, there are reliable resources of this wood found in the US.
Afrormosia Wood Durability And Water-Resistance
Afrormosia is very durable and water-resistant. It has been used for centuries to build boats in Africa and is a favorite in many European homes that want quality wood that will last years with little to no hidden maintenance costs.
It is just as durable as teak but a lot easier to work with. It is naturally resistant to wood rot, won’t become brittle or warp with time. When afrormosia is harvested, it already has the color of teak that is a bit aged and even, making it a gorgeous wood for indoor and outdoor high-moisture areas.
Afrormosia Wood Pest Resistance And Maintenance
Afrormosia is highly resistant to termites and other insects. The wood will not rot, bend or warp with time. It only needs minimal maintenance and costs a lot less than most hardwoods. You only need to wash and restain afrormosia wood once a year.
The one downside to afrormosia is that metal (furniture, BBQ’s and metal railings) can leave marks on the wood when there is rain, and the wood is unstained.
Under proper care and maintenance, this wood can last 20-30 years, if not longer.
Ipe Wood (Brazilian Walnut)
Ipe wood is a hardwood that is becoming popular in the US for its durability, water resistance, and scratch-resistant properties, to name a few. It is seen as a much more affordable teak wood substitute and comes from South America. It’s especially favored for its dense hardness as flooring or decking wood.
Like teak wood, Ipe wood has a natural oil that protects it from harsh conditions and keeps it strong. It is harvested from sustainable well-managed forests and is famed to be 8 times harder than the WRC mentioned below.
It is five times denser than most other hardwoods and will last longer than any treated softwood. It can be left to age and brought back to its beautiful rich walnut coloring with just a pressure wash.
Ipe Wood Durability And Water-Resistance
Ipe wood is very durable and can last over 20 years before you have to stain it. Because it is considered the hardest wood in the hardwood family, it is rot-resistant, won’t warp or become brittle. It is very hard to work with as many consider it the hardest wood out there.
Water won’t penetrate into the wood like it does some other woods because of how dense, hard, and tightly compressed the grain of the wood is. It has a straight grain and uniform texture.
While it is not cheap in any sense, it is less expensive than teak. It can withstand extreme weather conditions such as rain, hail, wind, and even snow. This wood also does well under the hot gaze of the sun and won’t permanently fade to a grey if washed with a pressure washer a few times a year.
Ipe Pest Resistance And Maintenance
Ipe wood is naturally resistant to termites, beetles, and other wood-loving insects. The wood is too hard for them to live in, and they can’t stand the natural oil in the Ipe wood. This wood is very low maintenance and can last 20 years without any treatment or preservative.
All you need to do is pressure wash it a few times a year, and after 20 years, if needed, stain the wood. After that, you don’t have to worry about restaining it for another 20 years. That means if the wood is stained or treated after a few years, it can last well over 50 years.
Cedar Wood (Western Red Cedar)
Cedarwood is also a fantastic water-resistant hardwood. Cedarwood is usually used in outdoor furniture, structures, and even flooring. It is known for its natural ability to withstand most weather conditions.
Cedar Wood Durability And Water-Resistance
The Western Red Cedar (WRC for short) is known to be the most durable and water-resistant out of all the cedar hardwoods. The WRC has a fine, straight grain and uniform texture. Because of its low density, cedarwood is naturally water-resistant and won’t rot when exposed to rain, hail, wind, and the heat of the sun.
Many people use it to build fences because of its durability outdoors. If properly maintained, this cedar wood will stay water-resistant, won’t warp, bend or become brittle. It makes a great base for most stains or paints.
Cedar Wood Pest Resistance And Maintenance
Because of its distinctive smell, red cedar wood is naturally resistant to insects such as carpet beetle larvae infestation and moths. Cedarwood is a bit more expensive than softwoods, but it is very low maintenance and only needs to be cleaned and restained or painted one to two times a year.
With these maintenance issues taken care of, the cedar wood will last between 15-20 years.
Out of all the woods we have looked at so far, I had to mention the mighty White Oak, also known as a great hardwood to use outdoors and indoors.
White Oak Wood
While there are about 20 different oak species, it is common to group them in either the white oak or red oak category. White oak is known to be rot resistant and more water-resistant than softwoods. The red oak variety is rather porous and not the best suited to use outdoors.
White oak is great for floors as it is highly scratch, dent, and water-resistant. It is not easy to work with, but it is well worth the effort at a fraction of the cost of other hardwoods. It has a closed-grain pattern that doesn’t allow water to damage it easily.
Red oak is open-grained and is thus used in sculptures or furniture that doesn’t require water-resistant.
White Oak Wood Durability And Water-Resistance
White oak is rot-resistant and very durable. The European white oak is a bit more durable than its American cousin. White oak is weather resistant and, with proper maintenance, can withstand rain, hail, wind, and the sun’s hot rays.
The one drawback to white oak is that it shrinks and expands a little. It is much more stable and won’t shrink as much as red oak, and is thus more stable to use in flooring.
White Oak Wood Pest Resistance And Maintenance
White oak is very resistant against termites, as is the red oak; they don’t like the taste of oak wood. White oak will last longer with regular maintenance. If you stain white oak at least once a year, it can last 10-15 years.
Teak might be the most expensive wood, but it is made to last. It is the most durable and water-resistant wood in the world can last up to 75 years without any staining or maintenance. So if you are interested in building a boat, cabin, sauna, or installing a deck on your property, teak is your best option.
Hardwood is not always easy to work with, but the results speak for themselves. Please make sure the wood you are buying comes from a sustainable source as deforestation is a real threat to our wildlife and eco-systems.