Web Extra: Choosing Wood for Outdoor Projects

Comparative decay resistance of the heartwood of some common native species
Grit Staff
September/October 2008
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For most outdoor projects, naturally rot-resistant wood is a good idea. Use this table to find the right decay-resistant species for your project.

Resistant or very resistant Moderately resistant Slightly or nonresistant

Baldcypress (old growth)1
Catalpa
Cedars
Cherry, black
Chestnut
Cypress, Arizona
Junipers
Locust, black3
Mulberry, red3
Oak, bur
Oak, chestnut
Oak, Gambel
Oak, Oregon white
Oak, post
Oak, white
Osage-orange3
Redwood
Sassafras
Walnut, black
Yew, Pacific3

Baldcypress (young growth)3
Douglas-fir
Honeylocust2
Larch, western
Oak, swamp chestnut
Pine, eastern white1
Pine, longleaf1
Pine, slash1
Tamarack

Alder
Ashes
Aspens
Basswood
Beech
Birches
Buckeye2
Butternut
Cottonwood
Elms
Hackberry
Hemlocks
Hickories
Magnolia
Maples
Oak (red and black species)2
Pines (most other species)2
Poplar
Spruces
Sweetgum2
Sycamore
Willows
Yellow-poplar

1 The southern and eastern pines and baldcypress are now largely second-growth, with a large proportion of sapwood. Consequently, it is no longer practicable to obtain substatial quantities of heartwood lumber in these species for general building purposes.
2 These species, or certain species within the groups sown, are indicated to have higher decay resistance than most of the other woods in their respective categories.
3 These woods have exceptionally high decay resistance.

Source: Forest Products Laboratory, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Comparative Decay Resistance of Heartwood of Native Species. U.S. Forest Service Research Note, FPL-0153. January 1967. Available at:  www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fplrn/fplrn153.pdf . 








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