11 Best Wood For Exterior Columns | With Pros and Cons

best wood for exterior columns

Exterior wood columns do a great job in terms of strength, functionality, and aesthetic look. They support the roof over the porch that is open-air or closed. Also, they play a major role to improve the appearance of your beautiful home. There are many types of exterior columns you can go with for different home styles. If you’re looking for a wood column, the first question that comes up to your mind is, What are the Best Wood For Exterior Columns?

I did some research and here is what I found out:

Birch, Mahogany, White or red oak, Poplar, Cherry, Maple, Redwood, Cedar, Douglas fir, Yellow pine, Spruce are the best wood for exterior columns. Most wood types are perfect for exterior columns as long as they can support roof weight, consist of good quality wood grades, and have an aesthetic look and style.

But that’s just a quick glimpse.

There are different types of exterior wood columns you can select that fit best according to your budget and finality. Wood, fiberglass, vinyl, aluminum, brick are the most popular types of exterior columns. They differ in color, fee, price, lifespan, and custom options. If you love the natural aesthetic look, the wood exterior column is the best option for you.

In this article, we’re diving into deep best wood for exterior columns with pros and cons of each, types of exterior columns and wood types suit them perfectly, best wood to warp exterior columns and how to protect exterior wood columns, and much more.

Below I have discussed in-depth the 11 best wood for exterior columns.

Just keep reading!

1. Birch

If you’re looking for a comparatively high stable exterior wood column, Birch is the wood you should go with. Birch is highly stable and high-density hardwood, that is perfect for porch, square, rectangular, or round exterior columns.

Even though birch is not the hardest wood, it has great properties in terms of durability.

The straight strain with pores and waves adds a unique look with fine grain.

Birch is great for high-end exterior columns. It is heavier than most other hardwoods and softwoods that can use for exterior columns.

Most importantly, the aesthetic look of birch wood adds a great aesthetic rich look to your exterior columns and improves the appearance of your home. The stain and finish birch wood are available in different styles and colors.

Birch is a strong heavy wood with rot-resistant capability and knots free nature.

The Janka hardness value for birch is 1260, which is a great rating to build an exterior wood column.

As a full-time woodworker, birch is undoubtedly one of the best modern-looking wood I’ve ever worked with.

So, let’s talk about the pros and cons of birch to build an exterior column.

ProsCons
Strong and DurableNo weather resistance
Aesthetic grain and modern lookNo moisture resistance
Less expensiveCrack and warp easily in dry conditions
High workability (finishing is easy)No shear and wear resistance
Easy to work withEasily damage from insects
Natural decay resistance 

Because of being significant decay resistance property, it is useful to increase the lifetime of your exterior columns.

2. Mahogany

Mahogany is one of the best wood for high-end exterior wood columns. Mahogany is a popular choice for round, octagon, square, or rectangular exterior columns.

When we are considering exterior wood columns, the first thing we need to focus on is the water resistivity of the wood. So, in terms of water resistance, mahogany has a great water-resistant ability. It stands so well against moisture and water than most other types of wood. Therefore, the durability of mahogany exterior columns is also high. This is why mahogany is one of the best woods for exterior columns.

I can highly recommend mahogany for exterior columns any day. Its great water resistance is also one reason to become relatively expensive than most other woods.

Mahogany is durable and attractive hardwood but difficult to handle. Not light in weight. Therefore, I mostly recommend mahogany only for professionals and woodworkers, not for beginners.

Mahogany exterior columns add a classical look to space with their unique reddish-brown color. Strength and stability are also extremely high. Because of those rich high-level qualities, mahogany is an expensive wood type. No other wood can replace mahogany in terms of the rich look it gives to your exterior columns.

The Janka hardness value for Mahogany is 800, which is a great hardwood to build an exterior wood column.

So let’s discuss the pros and cons of mahogany you face when making exterior columns.

ProsCons
High water resistanceDifficult to handle
High durabilityExpensive
High strengthHard to find
Rich reddish-brown colorHeavyweight
Rot-resistantDarken over time
Hold paint and polish great 

As you can see the advantages of mahogany wood have a clear win over its disadvantages. This makes it a great option to make exterior columns.

3. Red or White Oak

Oak is known as one of the most popular woods for exterior columns. It has great sturdy and strength. Oakwood has good dimensional stability and durability.

So, the shape and size won’t be changed so easily even under harsh and extreme weather conditions if your exterior wood columns are made with red or white oak wood.

With proper maintenance, an oak exterior column will last for a long. Red and white oak are the two most common oak available in the market. They have white to brown. The growth rings of white oak add dramatic beautiful light and dark tone to the wood.

Red oak has a Janka rating of 1260 and red oak has 1360, which are pretty good and able to hold any load with good strength.

Both white and red oak has great durability and strength, which can improve the appearance of your home in a unique way.

When we look at the finishing of oak wood exterior columns, they are excellent. With proper finishing, you’ll be able to get weather-resistant exterior columns in any color you want. It can easily take sawing, screws, nails which are useful for doing DIY.

Oakwood exterior columns can support roof weight, consist of good quality wood grades, and have an aesthetic look and style.

Hereby I have summarized the pros and cons of oak wood important in making exterior columns.

ProsCons
Sturdy and StabilityDifficult to move
High durabilityDarken over time
Easy to finish and stainCracks and shrinkage can occur with poor maintenance
High strengthExpensive
Finishing is easy with any color 
Fire resistant 
Wear-resistant 

4. Poplar

Poplar is a great choice for exterior columns. Poplar wood is stronger than any softwood, but when it comes to hardwoods, poplar wood is not stronger than most hardwoods.

The most important thing poplar wood has then other hardwoods is its workability. Because of being softer than most hardwoods, it takes manipulation with a lather, saw, and router as well. But before making an exterior column with poplar make sure to sharpen your woodworking tools well, because poplar wood easily tears when cutting if they aren’t sharpened properly.

Read: Is Poplar Wood Strong? With Pros & Cons

Even though poplar wood is known as hardwood, it is softer than most of the hardwood with a Janka rating of 800. Therefore, the durability and strength of poplar could be a little less, and we can sort it out with proper finishing techniques. So, if you’re going to use poplar to make exterior columns, focus more on its finishing than any other.

Poplar wood exterior columns need regular maintenance to keep them nice and clean for long enough. Also, make sure to keep your exterior column dry. Otherwise, moisture can damage the wood so easily.

I have researched and listed down some advantages and disadvantages of polar wood as exterior column making.

ProsCons
Uniform texturePainting is a bit difficult and needs more paint
LightweightRequire maintenance frequently
InexpensiveScratch and dent easily
Hardwood 

5. Cherry

The beautiful reddish-brown texture of cherry wood adds a unique aesthetic look to your exterior column. Cherry is a popular choice among woodworkers due to its great workability.

Finishing properties of cherry wood are great in making exterior columns with excellent gluing, nailing, polishing, and screwing.

If you are a beginner in woodworking cherry is the best option for you to make exterior columns because of being easy to work. But in terms of hardness, Cherry wood has a less dense Janka hardness rating of 950. But in my experience cherry wood has good strength and has a good appearance to be a good option for exterior columns.

Hereby I have summarized some pros and cons of cherry wood in terms of making exterior columns.

ProsCons
Good finishing propertiesExpensive
Beautiful reddish-brown textureScratch and dent easily
Lightweight 
High workability 
Give nice appearance to your home 

6. Maple

Maple is the least expensive wood type you can go for making exterior columns. Even though it’s cheap, maple has great qualities for the price. It is durable and appealing wood which can add a new unique look. Overall maple is strong high-quality wood.

The creamy color of sapwood with a slight pink brownish tingle makes the maple wood more attractive and modern.

Because of being affordability and great physical qualities, I highly recommend maple wood for beginners in woodworking in making exterior columns.

But maple is a bit difficult to work because of lack of tools and proper caring is pretty much important to keep the column lifelong.

The Janka hardness value of maple wood is 1450 and that is also an indication of strong hardwood.

In my experience, making an exterior column with maple wood is so satisfying because of its creamy soft color tone.

Here are some pros and cons of maple wood-making exterior columns.

ProsCons
Very affordableNo weather resistance
Durable and strongEasily damage from insects and bugs
Moisture resistant than most other woodsNo, wear or tear resistance
Beautiful creamy color toneHeavyweight
Resistant to shrinkage and warping 

7. Redwood

Redwood is a popular wood that can go with any type of woodworking project. Because of its great qualities, redwood is ideal for exterior columns as well.

High durability adds attractive eye-catching grain will add a unique look to the house.

The only issue that I have noticed with redwood is, it dents and scratches easily than any other wood. But you can skip it by applying a good finisher or sealer after proper sanding.

Most importantly, redwood does not have any bad chemicals or fumes that are harmful to humans and animals.

The high weather resistance of redwood is quite important because exterior wood columns belong to the outdoors. The natural decay-resistant ability is also an added advantage of redwood.

The Janka hardness value of redwood is 3190 and it is the hardest wood you can go for making exterior columns.

Here are some pros and cons of redwood making exterior columns.

ProsCons
AffordableScratch and dent easily
NontoxicHeavy
High strength and sturdyHard to move
High durability 
High weather resistant 

8. Cedar

To get the aesthetic look you want, cedarwood is the best wood you should go with. The pinkish-red color texture of cedarwood adds a new look to your house. Cedar has good finishing properties and good workability compared to other wood types.

Because of its workability and lightweight, cedarwood is great for a beginner in woodworking to make exterior columns. Also, cedar is known as one of the most durable and rot-resistant wood. This is important because we’re going to make exterior woodwork. It is also resistant to weather and moisture as well.

Because of having a porous structure, cedarwood absorbs oils and chemicals so easily, that can cause discoloration. So, highly recommend applying a sealer coating to keep the column last long.

Janka’s hardness value of cedarwood is 320, a low value because of being a softwood. But this doesn’t mean cedar wood is strong enough.

Hereby I have summarized some pros and cons of cedar wood in terms of making exterior columns.

ProsCons
High durabilityLow dense
Rot and decay-resistantRegular maintenance
Moisture resistant 
Weather-resistant 
Beautiful texture 
Not expensive 
High workability 
Lightweight 
Versatile wood 

9. Douglas fir

Douglas fir is a great wood for the exterior column in terms of economy and paint grade. If you’re low on budget or seeking a cheap option, Douglas fir is a good option.

Douglas fir is durable and strong, but not strong as hardwoods. Most importantly it has good weather resistance, and it is useful for exterior column making.

Douglas fir has low shrinkage and warp. It can withstand even harsh eater conditions without any defects. It shows great qualities in strength-wise as well.

Douglas fir is resistant to fungus and insects attacks, which is pretty much useful until we apply the finishing coat over the wood.

Because of being softwood, Douglas fir is lightweight and easy to handle and move. This makes Douglas fir an excellent choice for beginners in woodworking.

Because of having coarse texture, it is difficult to work with hand tools.

Here are some pros and cons of Douglas fir making exterior columns.

ProsCons
LightweightDiscoloration over time
High workabilityDifficult to work with hand tools
Resistant to insect and fungus attacks 
Low shrinkage and warping 
Cheap 

10. Yellow pine

Yellow pine is a highly available wood in many lumber markets which are great for exterior column make. It is cheap and has great qualities

Yellow pine is a softwood and easy to handle and cutting. Therefore, its machinability and workability are so good. Pleasant grain of yellow pine is easy to work with.

There are no bad chemicals and fumes inside the yellow pine and safety is high. Finishing is a must for yellow pine to protect from moisture, cracks, and dents.

Most importantly, yellow pine won’t swell, shrink or change dimensions in hot and cold temperatures. Yellow pinewood exterior columns can withstand rain, heat, and anything else so easily.

Here are some pros and cons of yellow pine-making exterior columns.

ProsCons
High workabilityLess durability
High availabilityNeed regular maintenance
Can withstand harsh weather conditions 

11. Spruce

Spruce is a top-quality wood for porch columns. Spruce is an affordable and cheap wood type similar to Douglas fir.

Spruce has the ability to withstand the rigors of weight and weather. It is a paint-grade wood and supports roof weight, consists of good quality wood grades, and has an aesthetic look and style.

Spruce has a dull appearance and is available more exclusive than pine.

Here are some pros and cons of spruce-making exterior columns.

ProsCons
High strengthLow weather resistance
Easy to handleLow weather resistance
Dries quicklyEasily damage from insects and bugs
High durability 

So, we have already discussed the best wood for exterior columns by taking the best 11 kinds of wood. Now you have a good idea about each type of wood and what matches your home perfectly according to their properties.

So, let’s dig into frequently asked questions about exterior wood columns.

What are the Best Woods for Outdoor Porch Columns?

Poplar, Mahogany, Oak, Pine, Maple, Redwood are the best wood for outdoor porch columns.

Apart from them, any other wood that I have discussed earlier is also great for outdoor porch columns. They have great durability, strength, and good weather resistance as well.

What are the Best Woods to Warp Exterior Columns?

Cedar and Pinewood are the best wood to warp exterior columns because of their great weather resistance and stability.

You can stain or paint cedar and both cedar and pine are affordable as well.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Best Wood for Exterior Columns?

In this article, we have mainly discussed the 11 best wood for exterior columns with their physical and mechanical properties. As a summary, the advantages and disadvantages of each type of wood are also discussed.

Even though there are some disadvantages, every wood that I have described in this article is great for exterior columns. You just have to select one from them which matches your wishes perfectly.

Ultimately, I have answered frequently asked questions about exterior wood columns and, I have specified some wood types you can definitely give a try to make exterior columns especially if you’re a beginner.

I hope by reviewing each wood one by one, now you can get an idea or take the final decision of your personal best wood for exterior columns without any issue.

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