Outdoor wood furniture can be notoriously expensive, especially if you’re targeting something solid and fabulous – something like teak wood. Acacia happens to be one of the cheaper alternatives you will find that is just as durable and smooth. But like most buyers, you might be wondering – is acacia wood good for outdoor furniture?
Yes, acacia wood has good qualities that make it perfect for outdoor use. Some of these include high oil content, rot resistance, water resistance, good workability, and, more importantly, high durability. Compared to many other wood types, acacia wood will survive better outdoors.
But don’t just take our word for it. It’s always a good idea to find out things for yourself before taking the plunge. So in this article, we will explore everything you need to know about using acacia wood for outdoor furniture. This includes but is not limited to the pros and cons, why you should consider it, maintenance tips, and so on.
But before all that, let’s start by answering the most important question…
What is Acacia Wood?
As the name suggests, acacia wood is simply wood obtained from a collection of trees and shrubs called “acacia.” Though it originated in Australia, it is also grown in the Pacific islands, Asia, America, and even Africa. The trees grow pretty fast and can grow as tall as 20 to 100 feet with a flattened crown.
Acacia is believed to have emerged during a season of drought and fires in the oldest continent. According to scientists, some fossil charcoal deposits were found to contain acacia buried inside them, suggesting the trees could be over 20 million years in existence. This probably explains why the wood is fire-resistant.
Currently, there are over a thousand varieties of acacia, which have been explored over the years to make various kinds of furniture and homeware. Some of the most popular ones are acacia mangium, Hawaiian Koa, Babul, Acacia melanoxylon, and acacia blackwood. The acacia blackwood and the Hawaiian Koa dominate the market in the US.
A typical feature of acacia wood, regardless of the type, is the natural smooth texture and distinctive wood grains, which can be stained or left as it is. Acacia can also also be referred to as “wattles.”
Is Acacia wood good for outdoor furniture?
Acacia is a solid, dense wood, which makes it an excellent choice for outdoor furniture. Being dense makes it not only strong and durable but also water-resistant. These qualities are typically what you will expect to see in any furnishing that is subject to frequent use and water exposure. This is why acacia is commonly used to build boats.
Being durable and hard also makes acacia less prone to scratches, dents, and gouges, which can be a big plus, especially if you’re using it for something like a coffee table. Even more, it’s a hard one to chew for bugs, so it doesn’t rot easily.
Acacia wood can last for years even when left untreated. However, this is only possible when it’s used indoors. Due to the conditions outside, treatment is necessary to prevent bugs and deterioration.
Furthermore, acacia holds up well against moisture. As a result, it doesn’t suffer from buckling or warping nor harbor mold and mildew, as some other woods do.
Acacia is also laden with natural oils, which make it even more resistant to rot and attacks from termites and other insects. This is why it’s commonly used for making patio furniture and decks. However, if you’re using it for garden furniture, it needs to be sealed to keep moisture away, as this can cause discoloration of the wood over time.
If properly maintained, acacia ages beautifully, keeping its golden brown color and highlighting its small wood grains. However, if left untreated, it will turn dark gray due to weathering and might crack.
Another reason to choose acacia wood for outdoor furniture is that it’s heavy. In fact, it’s one of the harder woods available. This makes it a perfect choice for outdoor areas that are prone to thunderstorms or heavy winds.
If you want your acacia wood furniture to last for ages, then it’s best to locate it under a covered place or shade. This will help keep it protected from direct sunlight and rain and thus extend the useful life of the furniture.
Pros and Cons of Acacia wood for outdoor furniture
In this section, we write about the best features of acacia wood as well as its downsides when using it for outdoor furniture. We will start with the pros.
Pros of Acacia Wood for Outdoor Furniture
More Affordable than Teak
Acacia wood represents a cheaper alternative for outdoor furniture compared to teak wood. This doesn’t mean acacia is “cheap,” but it’s a more budget-friendly option compared to other wood types.
The good thing about acacia wood is that it gives you a high-end look but without the heavy price tag commonly associated with premium wood options like teak. To be more specific, you can get a piece of furniture made of acacia wood for three times less than a similar piece made of teak. That said, teak is still more durable than acacia.
The reason why acacia wood is more affordable is that it’s more readily available. Acacia trees grow very fast, which is why they are abundant in supply.
Acacia wood is reasonably strong and hard so it can withstand normal daily wear commonly associated with outdoor furniture. This includes bumps, gouges, scratches, exposure to moisture, and the likes. The wood also happens to be very dense which makes it an ideal choice for constructing heavy-use furniture. If well maintained, the furniture can last for decades.
Many Style Options
As earlier described, acacia comes in a wide variety of trees. Each one has a slightly different grain pattern depending on the place it’s grown. Currently, there are over a thousand species, which gives you a lot of options in terms of what style or pattern to choose.
In other words, it is much easier to create a patio space that reflects your style and character when you choose acacia for your furniture.
Another good thing about using acacia wood for outdoor furniture is that it’s very easy to work with. Despite being dense, acacia is highly workable, which makes your job easier if you’re the one constructing the furniture. Although it’s heavy, it’s still a lighter option than teak, which makes it a better choice when resilience is required.
From making benches and dining tables to crafting buffets and fabulous live edge items, you will be amazed at how workable the wood is. Even after drying, it hardens considerably.
It’s no surprise Babul is commonly used to create ultra-modern furniture pieces.
Resistant to Termite
Termite attack is one of the most common problems that come with using outdoor wood furniture. Luckily, with acacia wood (specifically, heartwood), you won’t have to worry about this.
This is because heartwood is pest-proof. So, it’s completely resistant to termite attacks. It also happens to be the hardest part of the tree (acacia).
Easy to Repair Scratches (If they appear)
Like I said earlier, acacia wood is scratch-resistant, but that doesn’t mean it won’t ever get scratched. The good thing is that it’s a way to repair these scratches if you end up having them. A touch-up marker can be used to correct or conceal the scratches.
For a more serious issue, you can use wood filler. A lacquer finish can also be great if you wish to upgrade the look.
To be on the safe side, test every product on the part of the furniture that is not seen before using it on the affected area.
If you like your wood furniture looking smooth and flawless, then you won’t be disappointed with acacia.
By nature, acacia wood is smooth and features tiny grains that are also patterned naturally and beautifully. The finish often comes in warm tones, but you can make it darker by staining it.
High Moisture Content
Acacia wood also contains a good amount of moisture that contributes to its longevity. It is water-resistant, which is a plus for any outdoor furniture.
Cons of Acacia Wood for Outdoor Furniture
Now let’s see what’s on the other side of the coin. Here are some of the disadvantages that often come with using acacia wood outdoors.
Can be Expensive in Non-native Regions
Outside local production areas or where acacia trees are grown, the cost of transportation can increase the price of the wood, thus putting it on the more expensive side. This is not a big deal as it happens with virtually any product that is being exported. So don’t be too surprised if the price of acacia wood in your area is a little more than other domestic hardwoods.
Too Much Rain Can Cause Swelling
Too much rain or snow can cause acacia wood to swell and budge. The same also applies to sunlight. If you leave the furniture for long under direct sunlight or near other heat sources like fireplaces, it can fade, warp or even crack.
Choose other wood types if you want something to use near a fire pit or a fireplace.
Acacia wood is Not Waterproof
Even though acacia wood is water-resistant, it is not completely impervious to water. A good amount of water can still cause considerable damage, such as swelling or warping, as mentioned earlier.
So to keep your furniture protected, don’t leave it under standing water. Cover it when it rains or store it in the garage or basement. This is important, especially during the winter seasons when there’s a lot of rain and snow. You will be extending the useful life of the furniture by doing this.
Requires a Lot of Maintenance
Acacia wood furniture requires a lot of care and maintenance when used outside. In fact, it needs more pampering compared to many other furniture materials such as aluminum. This is not only important to guarantee its long-term use outdoors but also to preserve its natural beauty and appearance.
Acacia wood happens to be one of those materials that ages beautifully, but that is only when it’s properly maintained. It needs to be sealed and weatherproofed and constantly wiped to remove dust and grime.
Not Very Portable
Being heavy is great for an outdoor furniture piece, but it also has a downside. It makes it difficult to move the furniture often.
So if you’re looking to make a piece that will be moved often, acacia wood might not be the ideal choice.
Is acacia wood durable for outdoor furniture?
Yes, acacia wood is durable for outdoor furniture. It is heavy, rot-resistant, naturally beautiful, scratch-resistant, rich in natural oil, and has high moisture content. More importantly, it is naturally strong and can withstand everyday wear. All of these increase its longevity. In fact, compared to other wood types like maple, oak, and hickory, acacia does a far better job and will last longer outside, especially when properly maintained.
How long will acacia wood last outside?
With proper maintenance, acacia wood can last up to 40 years before it needs any upgrade or touch-up. Now, that’s a lot compared to other wood types. So we can comfortably say acacia wood has a high return on investment, which makes it even more desirable.
The longevity of acacia wood is not entirely dependent on its maintenance or any treatment. The wood is naturally durable and doesn’t get scratched easily. However, sealing the surface will provide more protection against the elements, thereby increasing its lifespan.
So while you can forgo additional treatment while using acacia wood outside, you can’t bypass the treatments outdoors if you want the wood to last as long as it should.
How to care for acacia wood outdoor furniture
To get the most from any acacia wood furniture, proper care and maintenance are needed. This will require a little persistence and effort on your part, but the benefits are enormous. Given how beautiful acacia is (naturally), painting it is not usually an option. Instead, you can treat the wood with a weatherproof finish to keep it looking good for years.
Follow the tips below to care for your acacia wood outdoor furniture.
Keep it Dust-free
If you’re going to use acacia outdoors, then you should be ready to deal with dust. Wiping down the furniture frequently to remove dust will help maintain its pristine look. You can do this using a damp rag or cloth. Make sure the cloth is clean, or else you will be adding more dirt to the wood surface.
Allowing dust to accumulate on the wood furniture can lead to cracking or other defects. So it’s important to wipe it down frequently or as soon as you notice any dust on the surface. This is not only important for hygiene but also to preserve the integrity of the wood.
Develop a Cleaning Schedule
Frequent dusting can take care of dust and other solid particles, but it can’t remove grimes and tough stains. So while you make dusting a routine, you should also have a cleaning schedule. We normally recommend cleaning at least twice a year depending on how much you use the furniture and where you have it located outdoors. But it would be better if you can do it more than twice a year.
Use warm soapy water and a soft cloth to clean. Focus on grime and dirt, as well as wet spots. Wipe down every part of the furniture, including hard-to-reach areas or corners.
When you’re done cleaning, you can rinse with another damp cloth soaked in clean water. Then, use a towel to dry.
I recommend using mild soap (or dishwashing detergent). Avoid products that contain ammonia or silicone, as these chemicals can damage your furniture.
For dark spots, tough stains, and mild, you can use vinegar solution (water plus white vinegar). Baking soda also works. To clean the stains, you can use a soft brush. Don’t scrub too hard.
Wipe Down Liquid Spills
Like every other wood type, acacia is not waterproof. So it’s best not to leave it in the rain. However, if it gets rained on, wipe it dry immediately. This also applies to liquid spills, including beverages and alcohol.
Specifically, perfumes and alcohol contain chemicals that can pull out water from the wood, causing it to crack. In the same way, not drying out the furniture after rain leads to soaking, which leads to deterioration in the long run.
Locate Furniture Away from Heat
Acacia has high heat sensitivity, so keeping it close to a heat source can bring about warping. Heat sources include vents, fireplaces, barbecues, and the likes. Also, locate furniture away from direct sunlight. I recommend placing it under some kind of shade (a pergola is a great example).
Use Waterproof Covers
Store wood furniture away when not in use or place a waterproof cover over it. This is important because excess moisture can cause the wood to swell and buckle.
Using covers is extremely important, especially when patio season ends. It’s always safer to cover the furniture or store them away in the garage until spring. This will help extend its lifespan.
If you’re going to use acacia wood outdoors, then it needs to be oiled regularly. This will help preserve the color and also provide sun protection. Tung oil or linseed oil works great.
Do’s and Don’ts when using acacia wood furniture outdoors.
Here are more dos and don’ts you should keep to get more use from your acacia wood outdoor furniture.
- Wipe down dust, bird droppings, liquid spills, and the likes as soon as you notice them. Do not allow them to accumulate or sit for long, as that can affect the integrity of the wood in the long run.
- Acacia wood is extremely sensitive to heat. So, keep furniture at a good distance from heat sources. Also, avoid direct exposure to sunlight.
- Before using acacia wood furniture outdoors, make sure it’s properly sealed to prevent decay or avoid bugs eating into the wood.
- Avoid placing hot items such as hot plates or pots of food directly on the wood surface to avoid heat damage. In the same manner, don’t place wet glasses or mugs on the furniture. These things can also cause water rings. Instead, use a trivet or potholder (for hot items), simply cover (in the case of a table) with a placemat or tablecloth.
- Keep to the manufacturer’s instructions. In addition to the maintenance tips above, follow the manufacturer’s instructions provided for your new furniture, especially those on usage and maintenance. This is very important considering the fact acacia wood comes in a lot of varieties. So, knowing the type of maintenance that applies to your furniture will help to keep it in shape for a long time.
- For acacia furniture that sits close to a pool, hose down at least once a week to remove accumulated chlorine, and dry with a clean cloth or rag. Allowing chlorine to build up will reduce the weather resistance of the wood over time
So, is acacia wood good for outdoor furniture? Yes, it is. Although more expensive than traditional hardwoods like oak and maple, acacia is still a more budget-friendly choice when compared to premium teak furniture. So, if you’re looking for quality at a more affordable price, then you won’t go wrong with acacia.
In addition to being highly durable, acacia has a natural beauty that can be maintained for decades. It holds up well against the elements, which makes it perfect for outdoor application. In fact, acacia can work in some outdoor areas where other wood types would fail.
From benches and chat sets to medium-sized tables and Adirondack chairs, acacia wood can be an excellent choice for your next outdoor furniture.