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I have lots of softwood so I am making some garden furniture. I know that this is not ideal in terms of how long it will last, painting and rotting, am I right to be concerned?

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    There is no reason to abandon an old question because it's poorly worded. Just click the edit button (below where the tags are, to the left of your name) and fix it up. You'll see that if you'll spend a few moments to read through the tour. – FreeMan Jul 29 at 10:39
  • Thank everyone, someone mentioned Iroko. Has anyone used this, it seems not too pricey. Best Alan – ohdearme Aug 4 at 1:31
  • Iroko not too pricy? Lucky you! While it is durable outdoors it's also complete overkill unless you are making something of high quality that you need/want to endure for many, many years. It's also a different animal to any softwood you'd normally encounter in terms of workability — and sometimes markedly different because of interlocking grain, and all of it is much harder — so not an ideal learner/beginner wood is what I'm saying. – Graphus Aug 7 at 18:42
  • I have decided on softwood and paint with proper preparation, thanks to you all – ohdearme Aug 8 at 14:42
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I also have access to lots of wood. I made some benches and table from it and stained for better visual effect, as well as garden beds from untreated wood of all kind. It already lasted two years and it looks like a couple more years will be OK. Since the wood is available and doesn't cost anything - I see no reason to worry how long it will last, just make a new item in 5 years.

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    I'd agree. If you've got the wood today, and you go into it expecting that it will only last a few years, what have you got to loose? – FreeMan Jul 29 at 10:42
  • Agree too. In addition 1, many things made from untreated pine (SPF rather than pine specifically) last longer than one might expect, q.v. pallets for a real-world example using modern wood. And 2, one can finish untreated softwoods to significantly extend their lifespan if desired, q.v. old pine or fir windows and exterior trim features, which were invariably painted. – Graphus Jul 29 at 12:23
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I used treated southern pine for a built in bench ( 20 ft long) on a deck of the same material . The bench if fine after 20 years but the deck has had a couple bad spots because it it wet longer than the bench. So soft wood can work fine or not;depending on the wood,treatment ,and how much time it is wet. ( Southern pine -US- , is one of the hardest softwoods.). Stain /water repellent , will work better than paint for exposed wood.

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  • Quick thing re. your stain/water-repellent being better than paint, there's plenty of experimental data and real-world examples to show that paint is, by far, the best protectant for wood (assuming proper application in the first place and upkeep with a suitable maintenance schedule). – Graphus Jul 29 at 12:27
  • It depends on the wood ; Sherwin Williams and probably others have done exposure tests ( Kure Beach , NC .?) and found a big difference in the same paint. Unfortunately , southern pine was the worst at holding paint. – blacksmith37 Jul 29 at 15:52
  • If you're interested in more on the general topic look for info on this from the Forest Products Laboratory (the research arm of the US Forest Service... assuming it hasn't been dismantled by a Trump crony). In addition to the current publications (free to download... again assuming no changes made by the current administration) they have historical documents on the same topic, with test results going way back to the first half of the 20th century. – Graphus Jul 30 at 9:07

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