Giving house for the birds not only provides a safe shelter for them but also helps to enhance your backyard. You’ll get an enjoyable pleasure by seeing birds and the growing of hatchings every morning. A wooden birdhouse is an eco-friendly approach that leads to a peaceful mindset. As a full-time woodworker, I used to reduce my stress by looking at my beautiful birdhouse with the bluebird family.
In the early days, before I was starting to build a birdhouse, I was curious What is the Best Wood for Birdhouse?
Here’re what I found, which are known as the Best Wood for Birdhouse with different qualities,
- Douglas Fir
I’m going to cover up all the above wood types and discuss the special qualities of each wood with their advantages and disadvantages. At the end of this article, you’ll be able to find out what’s the best wood you should go for to build your first birdhouse.
Cedar is known as the popular choice for a birdhouse. The great insulation properties of cedarwood can provide a warm environment inside the birdhouse. This is important especially in winter, as birds love to stay warm.
Cedar is also an affordable and common wood type you can easily go with. The lightweight cedar is an added advantage when it comes to hanging. Because of being a softwood, cedar is easy to work with.
Cedar is the overall best wood for birdhouse because it does not change size with temperature variations. The dimensional stability of cedarwood is pretty much high which does not change shape or size when it rains and when it’s hot outside.
Because of this great dimensional stability birds will never feel less or more space than before, and they have enough space to move freely inside the house all the time.
When we are looking for wood to make a product that places outside, we should consider its environmental stability and durability. Cedarwood is great for outdoor use. It has great resistance for rotting, insects, and bugs with the natural weather-resistant ability and the durability also high which can last over for years. This is why cedar is one of the best wood for birdhouse.
Make sure the cedar wood is untreated before making the birdhouse. Because treated wood chemicals can be harmful to the birds.
As an experienced woodworker, I have never used an oil finish for a cedar birdhouse. I left it unpainted and plain. But if you’re interested in finishing and painting, I’d recommend applying poly or paint on the outside only.
Make sure to keep the inside surface rough, so the birds can climb out easily.
Top Characteristics of Cedarwood for Birdhouse
|Density||Hard texture grain|
|Unique feature||Durable and soft, knotty, No painting is needed|
Redwood is known as one of the most popular wood types in the market that basically go with any woodwork project. Redwood is a good choice you can go with making a birdhouse.
The durability of redwood is high, and it has a beautiful eye-catching grain that will add a unique look to the birdhouse.
The only issue that I noticed with re wood is, it scratches and dents easily. But that can simply ignore in making a birdhouse and does not affect much for the look.
Most importantly, redwood does not contain any chemicals that harm the birds or hatchings.
The high weather resistivity of redwood plays a major role in making a birdhouse because this will always belong to the outdoors. The natural decay-resistant ability is also an added advantage of redwood.
Redwood is an affordable and common wood type you can easily go with.
I highly recommend wire brush the redwood before starting the project to rough the surface. The rough surface gives the birds space to hold on without any issue.
The uniqueness of the redwood birdhouse is it will last a lifetime also look better with age.
As I mentioned earlier, always make sure the wood is untreated.
It is so much easy to build an attractive, weatherproof, and sturdy birdhouse with redwood.
I recommend you apply a coat of urethane varnish or clear acrylic only on the outside for better finishing. But finishers should be non-toxic.
Top Characteristics of Redwood for Birdhouse
|Unique feature||Extremely weather-resistant|
3. Douglas Fir
Fir is similar to redwood and it is also a common type of wood. Douglas fir is a strong and durable wood for making a birdhouse with great weather resistance. Fir is one of the best selections when it comes to outdoor woodworking projects because of its environment resistivity.
Fir is also an affordable wood type, similar to cedar.
Douglas fir is known as bird-safe wood and goes for the untreated wood type. Never use treated fir for the birdhouse project. Because normally green or darker in color with chemically treated are very dangerous to the birds.
Douglas fir has low shrinkage with great stability. Because of this great dimensional stability birds will never feel less or more space than before, and they have enough space to move freely inside the house all the time.
The strength of the wood is significantly high. Like redwood, Douglas fir has naturally resistant to insects and fungus attacks which is pretty much useful because we don’t apply any coating over the wood.
The lightweight of Douglas fir easy to handle and the workability is also high.
Douglas fir has a coarse texture which can’t work with hand tools easily.
Because of that, we need to pay more attention to Douglas fir to stop grain than cedar and redwood when making a birdhouse. To avoid the gran the tools you use must be so sharp.
From our daily walk…— Laloofah Ⓥ (@Laloofah) December 14, 2019
Some holiday elf always decorates this little Douglas Fir by the pond to add a touch of festive cheer for passers by, and someone else created & hung a cool birdhouse at the edge of the forest to add a touch of cozy cheer for feathered friends… pic.twitter.com/xK6JYkLGJr
Normally Douglas fir contains less amount of resin than any other wood type. Because of that, there can be a significant color change of the birdhouse you built with Douglas fir over time. the light to dark color variation through growth rings causes uneven coloration.
Top Characteristics of Douglas Fir for Birdhouse
|Unique feature||Low shrinkage with great stability.|
Pinewood is readily available on every lumber market across the USA and any other country. Because of that pine wood is extremely cheap and affordable. This also a great material to build your first birdhouse, not only because it is cheap, but also because of its outstanding qualities for the price.
Pinewood is softwood and easy to cut and handling. The workability and machinability are so good. The grain of most pinewood types is pleasant and easy to work with.
Pinewood is nontoxic material that is perfect to build the bird box.
I recommend you apply the coating or finisher only on the outside surface of the pine birdhouse, which is a less harmful method for the birds. This is why pine is one of the best wood for birdhouse.
In my personal experience, when cedar and redwood are out of stock in the market, I directly go for the next best option, Pinewood.
The only reason I prefer cedar and redwood over pinewood is the durability. The durability of cedar and redwood is higher than pinewood even though pinewood has great stability.
But there are birdhouses made of pinewood that last more than 20 years. It depends on the quality of the pinewood you choose. To keep your pinewood birdhouse for long, I recommend you paint outside with a water-based sealer. This will prevent the board from rotting over time and won’t give any health issues to the birds as well. Pinewood has the ability to absorb the paint quickly and this will give attractive bold color to your birdhouse.
Pinewood isn’t fuzzy if the house is sized right in a good area. Make sure to rough the inside surface which will give more opportunity for the birds to climb out easily.
Pinewood won’t shrink, swell, or change dimensions in hot and cold temperatures. Pinewood birdhouses can withstand heat, rain, and anything else easily.
Top Characteristics of Pinewood for Birdhouse
|Color||Creamy white to yellow|
|Density||Lightweight(soft) and less dense|
|Unique feature||Has lots of properties and known as “God’s gift to the woodworkers”|
Cypress has natural water repellent ability, which is great for outdoor woodworking applications. It is a wet climate wood perfect for building your first birdhouse project it.
The only disadvantage of using cypress is, it deteriorates when direct contact with soil. But that is not a problem, because birdhouses place way more above the ground level.
Nailing and screwing are easy. Painting is not needed for cypress birdhouse because of its excellent weather resistance. If you do care about the look, I recommend you apply a coating, finishing over the outer surface only. This can improve its lifetime as well.
As a woodworker, the only issue I faced with cypress is the less availability on the market. Because of this reason most people go for alternative wood types rather than cypress.
Even though it is not readily available across the united states, it is less expensive than cedarwood.
Cypress is popular for outdoor woodworking projects because of its rot resistance, decay resistance, and great workability. Cypress is a moderately durable wood. It has a natural resistance to insects and fungi attacks.
I guess it’s not technically a medal but some better pictures of the birdhouse I won at yesterday’s #harrodscreektrailbash 🙌🏻 It is made from scrap cypress and red cedar and designed for wrens, bluebirds and chickadees. Can’t wait to hang it! #medalmonday #howihammer pic.twitter.com/TzUkTBvNhn— tracy green 😷 (@TGRunFit) November 19, 2018
I recommend you use light passes and sharp cutters and tools when working with cypress to prevent tearing.
The aesthetic look and being aromatic is an exceptional quality of cypress that outreaches other wood types. Cypress birdhouse can easily attract any type of bird because of its eye-catching natural light texture.
Top Characteristics of Cypress for Birdhouse
|Unique feature||The aesthetic look and aromatic|
Teak has great weather resistance which is great for outdoor woodworking projects. The water resistance and weather resistance of teak wood are high. No toxic chemicals are included in teak wood which is very useful for making a birdhouse.
The only drawback is the expensiveness of teakwood.
The natural oil of teak gives the water resistance, and it can distract water from the wood surface. Also, it gives natural resistance for rotting, decaying, fungi, and insect attacks.
Because of being highly durable, your teakwood birdhouse no need to maintain regularly. It can withstand temperature changes and any other environmental changes.
But most people do not go for teak wood because of its cost, and they can find better solutions with cheap wood like cedar and redwood. The golden yellow color of teakwood adds an aesthetic look to your birdhouse.
Teakwood is moderately hard and heavy with decay resistance and dimensional stability. Because of that birds will never feel less or more space than before, and they have enough space to move freely inside the house all the time.
In my opinion, even though teakwood is great for making a birdhouse, it’s not very cost-efficient. Because other low-cost wood can give the same qualities for a cheaper price than teak wood.
Top Characteristics of Teakwood for Birdhouse
|Density||Hardwood, High dense, Heavy|
|Unique feature||High durability|
If you go with plywood for making a birdhouse, make sure to go with top quality exterior-grade plywood option that uses phenolic resin to attach the layers.
Most of the time, I got the question,
Can you use plywood for the birdhouse?
Yes, you can use untreated plywood for the birdhouse. But always go for phenolic resin glue plywood. Phenolic resin is non-toxic, so it’s completely ok to go with plywood making the birdhouse project.
Plywood isn’t fuzzy if the house is sized right in a good area. Make sure to rough the inside surface which will give more opportunity for the birds to climb out easily.
Always make sure to go with untreated plywood when making a birdhouse. Because chemicals that use for treating are toxic for the birds.
New design birdhouse is ready..beer can roof and entrance, skip recovered plywood, cordyline australis leaves (invasive specie)… pic.twitter.com/xNnWhgEHrs— Dr Emmanuel G. Reynaud 🔬💉♴🧰🐙 (@ReynaudEmmanuel) March 24, 2019
When using plywood to make a birdhouse, make sure to finish the whole outside with proper coating or finisher, but you should leave the inside surface unfinished.
The high strength and great dimensional stability of plywood make it more applicable for outdoor woodworking projects. The high impact resistance, water resistance, and chemical resistance are important when making a birdhouse.
The thermal insulation is also an added advantage of using plywood for your first birdhouse project.
The great insulation properties of cedarwood can provide a warm environment inside the birdhouse. This is important especially in winter, as birds love to stay warm.
Most importantly, plywood does not corrode.
The drawbacks of using plywood for making birdhouses are, it is quite difficult to screw and cut, also it has many weak sides in strength than other wood types. The phenol-formaldehyde glue which uses to combine the layers together can cause health issues. (go for the phenolic resin glue plywood)
Top Characteristics of Plywood for Birdhouse
|Color||Can buy from any color you wish|
|Unique feature||Durable and weather resistance|
Oak has great weather resistance, excellent for making a birdhouse. By using oak for the birdhouse, it stands out significantly with zero use of chemical paints or varnishes.
Oakwood is a hardwood with a great amount of strength and its attractive natural look rages light red with swirling yellow-like patterns. This gives unique look to your birdhouse and it works as a magnet for birds’ eyes.
You can easily attract any bird by using oak wood for the birdhouse project.
Oakwood holds up perfectly outside. The nice appealing and long-lasting durability are added advantages of oakwood.
Because of having a beautiful natural color, you don’t need to apply any chemically-based coating over the oakwood surface. The stunning natural look is magical.
Apart from its natural beauty, oak is highly durable, with great workability. Also, it is less warm when exposed to sunlight compared to other wood types. Water resistance and insect resistance improves the quality of the wood itself. This is why oak is one of the best wood for birdhouse.
When it comes to pricing, oakwood is a bit expensive but worthy. You can never get the great qualities plus natural look of oakwood and feel with any other wood type.
Top Characteristics of Oakwood for Birdhouse
|Color||Light red with swirling yellow like patterns|
|Density||Hardwood, high dense|
|Unique feature||Attractive and great weather resistance|
Beechwood is also a great option for birdhouses because of its great weather resistance. It is sturdy and heavy. The light-colored texture of beechwood can add an aesthetic look to your birdhouse. The workability is also great and works easily with power tools.
Beechwood is known as a cheaply priced alternative for oakwood which is great if you’re planning to get oakwood qualities with a low budget.
Beechwood is light in weight and easily can hang anywhere you want. It has great strength.
First graders- you learned all about birds this year. Today at Beech Tree a momma was very busy feeding the babies in our birdhouse. I didn’t want to disturb the nest but had to send this “tweet!” (Listen 🐦) @hlwalnock @BeechTreeFirst pic.twitter.com/foPeOWm9oA— Beech Tree ES STEM (@kmhollen) June 7, 2020
The only drawback of using beechwood is, it shrinks significantly with temperature changes.
That can ignore by applying a quality coating over the exterior surface.
Top Characteristics of Beechwood for Birdhouse
|Color||Pink to reddish-brown|
|Machinability||Machines at slow speed, poor machinability|
|Unique feature||Cheap, No taste or odor|
Tips for making Birdhouse
- Whatever the wood you choose for making the birdhouse, select the untreated. Because chemicals that use for treating wood are harmful to the birds.
- Don’t use lead-based paints even for the exterior. They are toxic for the birds. Keep the inside with natural wood as it is.
- Never use metals to build birdhouses because they reflect the sunlight and attract predators. Also, because of having poor insulation properties, that can kill young birds.
- Rough the interior surface. That helps birds to grip with feet.
- Don’t use too bright colors when painting the birdhouse. That can attract predators easily. Natural wood colors work best.
Did I cover all you wanted to know about The Best Wood for Birdhouse?
In this article, I have widely discussed the Top 9 Best Wood for Birdhouse that I have worked with and gained good results, in terms of durability, safety, appeal, and strength.
Always make sure to give the priority to the safety of the birds than its appeal.
Birdhouse needs to be comfortable and should have enough space to move around freely.
Never apply any coating or paintings inside of the birdhouse.
I have discussed the qualities of each wood type that are perfect for outdoor woodworking applications. The advantages and disadvantages of using each wood have clearly mentioned as well.
Ultimately, I have answered all the possible factors that we should concern when selecting each wood to make the birdhouse.
I hope by reviewing the characteristics, pros, and cons of each wood one by one, now you can have a clear idea to take the final decision according to your personal preferences.