Birch is a hardwood native to North America. There are various types of birch wood we use to build furniture, carves, and other woodworking projects. During my earlier days of woodworking, I was always wondered, Is Birch Good for Outdoors?
Here is what I found:
Birch is not good for the outdoors. It doesn’t have the rot resistance ability. Seal all the surfaces well before keeping birch furniture, woodworks outside. Birch is not durable enough for the exterior environment without protective coating. Weather resistivity is also a big factor you should concern about before using birch outside.
But that’s a quick snapshot.
As soon I answer this question, some people always get confused and reply, they have already seen many budling materials made of birch which are always placed outside. To answer that question and all other factors regarding outdoor usage of birch I did some research and going to cover all of them throughout this article.
From this article, I’m going to cover Is birch good for outdoor furniture, birchwood for outdoor projects, the weather resistivity, how to finish birch for outdoor use, and many more.
Is Birch Good for Outdoor Furniture?
When it comes to birch wood, it is not the best choice for outdoor furniture. Even if the furniture is very strong and solid, I don’t recommend keeping it outside especially without a proper finish. Some of my birch furniture that was kept on my deck outside was rusted and damaged a few years ago because of the less stability of the birch wood.
As you can see there are lots of outdoor sofas, outdoor dining tables, outdoor tables, and other outdoor furniture accessories are available on the market made of all birch wood. They are treated sealed and finish properly using special techniques with several coatings.
By considering all the cost that required to do the finishing part, we can easily go for other wood types for outdoor furniture rather than stick on birch.
Here I have given the main two reasons, that make birch isn’t the perfect choice for outdoor furniture.
- Birch is a pretty heavy wood
- It is less durable and less stable
Always go for the less heavy and more durable and stable option especially for outdoor furniture, because they’re continuously affected by the surrounding environment, and birch is not the one for that purpose.
Is Birchwood Weather Resistant?
This is also one burring question for me, and I did some research to determine the weather resistivity of birch wood.
Let’s, have a look at the water resistivity of birch wood.
Being hardwood does not mean they all are water-resistant. For example, red oak, maple, and birch are not water-resistant or they don’t have the waterproofing ability. Birchwood is sensitive to the moisture content in the air. It expands and contracts sightly according to the atmospheric moisture content which is not good for outdoor use.
Water can easily penetrate through the pores structure of the birch and damage the wood. This will eventually rot the wood.
Likewise, because of the poor weather resistance of birch wood, we cannot use it for outdoor applications. The wood is so much sensitive to water, wind, and sunlight.
But there are some sort of advantages you get from using birchwood for outdoor use as well, which are discussed below.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Birchwood for Outdoor Use
|Advantages of Birchwood||Disadvantages of Birchwood|
|Low weight||Poor weather resistance|
|Strong hardwood||Lack of character|
|Dimensional stability||Rot and Decay of exposed to elements|
|Ease of use||Can get insect attacks easily|
|Beautiful light color and smoothness|
As you can see number of advantages of birch wood are a lot more than its cons, which make it perfect for different woodworking projects. The only downside the raw wood is not strong enough to resist the moisture if we keep it outdoor. This is where the need for proper finishing occurs.
🇨🇿Luxusní noční stolek s úložným prostorem vyrobený z březové překližky ✨🛏— orlimex_plywood (@orlimex) April 15, 2021
🇬🇧 Luxurious bedside table with storage space made of birch plywood ✨🛏#plywoodisourpassion #orlimex #worldwide #furniture pic.twitter.com/4b42csMHx1
Finish Birchwood for Outdoor Use
Birch is known as one of the hardest woods to finish. With proper sealing and finishing, we can increase the weather resistivity of birch wood and also will be able to use it for many outdoor woodworking applications without thinking twice.
To keep your birchwood furniture long last, apply marine spar varnish which I have tested and came up with good results.
Marine spar varnish does a better job in finishing than other store self-finishes in the market, especially for exterior usage.
But you have to keep in mind that, maintain your outdoor birch woodwork frequently because the wood itself is not good for outdoor use. To do that reapply marine spar varnish once a year through the whole surface because it breaks down from Ultraviolet rays.
1st coat of marine varnish on the tabletop. When I'm finished I'll attach black pipe legs and set it up on the patio. Looking forward to summer! pic.twitter.com/PaIbgmOCU5— Mrs. Dr. (@JermDeWalt) April 9, 2021
My personal opinion is, there is no other finisher better than Marine spar varnish when it comes to exterior furniture.
Also, don’t forget to apply the varnish and seal the bottom of the legs and crevices as well, because moisture can have direct access to the wood from the bottom legs.
By keep painting regularly, you’ll be able to extend the lifetime of birch wood furniture more than enough you want.
Finish Birch Plywood for Exterior use
Apart from using the varnish, also you can follow the following method for proper finishing of birch plywood for outdoor usage. But this should be done with extra preparation because birch plywood layers have slightly different colors.
1. Check the color stain
Before the process, check the color stain by using the same birch plywood piece. Once it has dried, you’ll be able to check the color of the output. You can use different tints on plywood pieces until it comes to the color you want before making the final choice.
Take the 220-grit sandpaper and work with gran until the wood comes to the grain you want with smoothness. At the end of this process, the wood should have a smooth surface with no dirt. Wipe out the dust and go for the next step.
3. Apply pre-stain
Apply the pre-stain all over the wooden surface. This will help for the even distribution of stain over birch wood.
4. Apply the stain Birch Plywood
Apply the stain using a sponge. Dip the sponge in stain and start from one end and continue the process till the other end without stopping. Stopping at the middle of the wipe cause feathering the edge. Also, make sure to work with grain which gives a smooth surface. After the process is done, let the stain dry.
5. Apply the second stain coat
Apply the second stain coating once the previous coating has completely dried.
Seal the birch plywood after the second stain coating has completely dried. Use the sealer from the same manufacturer of stain coating. Apply the sealer all over the wood and let it dry. You can go for another coat of sealing after it’s fully dried.
This is the complete process that I follow to finish the birch plywood before using it for exterior woodwork projects.
Proper maintenances are a must when it comes to woodworking.
Better wood for Outdoor use
Even if birch wood does a great job for woodworking and furniture stuff, people tend to use alternatives when it comes to outdoor use. Because birch is not a type of wood recommended for the exterior environment because of its poor weather resistance.
So, apart from using the birch and wasting so much on finishing products, here are some other woods which are great for outdoor use.
- Pressure-treated pine
- White oak
Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Is Birch Good for Outdoors?
Birch is a versatile wood with lots of great qualities compared to other wood types. When it comes to cabinets, doors, furniture, panels, most other wood can compete with birch because of its uniqueness. But for outdoor use, birch is not the best wood due to poor environmental stability.
From this article, we discussed Is birch good for the outdoors, why it isn’t good for outdoor furniture, the pros and cons of birch wood for exterior use, finishing methods, and alternative for birchwood as well.
But ultimately, with proper finishing and sealing, birch wood can be upgraded for exterior usage without any issues.
Hope you have gained good knowledge about birch wood and its outdoor usage from this article.