If you’ve chosen timber for your outdoor furniture or you’ve picked yourself up a Bloom Box timber planter box for the garden or balcony, you’ll most likely agree with us that nothing beats raw, natural materials for durability and aesthetics. But you might be wondering, now your timber furniture is out in the elements each and every day, what happens when the timber gets wet? Will it start to rot and if so, what can you do about it?
Why does wood rot?
First things first - a little lesson in wood rot. Wood rot is a form of decay that’s triggered by the combination of moisture and fungi. In order for the fungi to form, the wood needs to be damp for a long time. Fungi won’t grow on dry wood.
There are two main types of wood rot:
- Dry rot - While the surface may appear dry, dry rot grows in the wood’s structure, shrinking the wood and causing cracks in the grain of the timber. The wood may turn a deep brown before breaking up. Once it starts growing, dry rot fungus grows fast.
- Wet rot - As the name would suggest, wet rot loves moisture. Wet rot-affected timbers will feel soft and spongy and there may be a damp, musty smell.
Outdoor timber furniture can also warp and crack if exposed to rain and moisture.
How to protect your furniture from rot
The good news is that a lot of timber furniture builders will use rot-resistant timbers if they’re making outdoor furniture. At Bloom Box, we use cedar and cypress timbers for our planter boxes. Both cypress and cedar timbers are naturally durable and resistant to moisture and rot. In fact, cedar is categorised as a Class 2 durable material in Australia, the highest category for any softwood. That’s because it contains a natural compound called thujaplicin that acts as a natural preservative. What’s more, as it ages, timber produces natural oils that protect it. These oils keep the timber water-resistant and rot-resistant for a long time to come.
Secondly, many furniture manufacturers will finish the wood with penetrating oils, stains or varnish if it’s intended for outdoor use. This adds a protective barrier to the timber and helps to seal and protect from weathering. Bloom Box uses an exterior UV timber oil on all of our products which enhances the natural beauty of the timber while nourishing the timber from the inside out.
In addition to being naturally durable, Bloom Box planter boxes are also lined with a geofabric drainage lining that allows excess water to drain away while keeping the soil separate from the timber.
So long story short, if you purchase your outdoor timber furniture from a reputable manufacturer that has properly designed the piece for outdoor use, you needn't worry too much. The hard work has already been taken care of.
But what if I want extra protection...just in case?
While it’s true that many timbers are rot-resistant, you may still want to take certain measures to keep your furniture protected and looking its best. If that’s the case, here are a few pointers:
- If possible, keep raised beds on gravel instead of soil. Gravel doesn't retain moisture and will drain water away faster than soil would.
- Support good drainage. An added bed of scoria/crushed rock in the base of a timber planter box, in addition to a good quality potting mix, will ensure proper drainage and healthy plants.
- Let your timber dry. There’s really no issue with timber furniture getting wet. The issue is if the timber isn’t able to dry out. If you store timber furniture in your garage or shed while not in use, always make sure it’s had time to air-dry before you put it away.
- Make sure your wooden furniture isn’t sitting in a pool of water. Wherever you position your furniture, make sure you don’t put it in a spot that pools water after it rains. This is the perfect breeding ground for rot!
- Maintain your timber furniture. While timber is often a set and forget type material, it pays to give it some love from time to time. If you’re worried about UV deterioration, then a reapplication of a penetrating timber oil will bring the natural timber colour back to life and help to protect the timber. While some like the weathered look, maintaining your timber furniture will keep it looking great for years to come.
Timber is a natural product and we love the way it naturally ages, turning a beautiful silver-grey over the years. If this look isn’t for you, reply a timber oil every six to twelve months.