Find Durable, Beautiful Wooden Furnishings
Wooden furnishings like benches and picnic tables have long been a top choice for parks. Wood blends into sites
beautifully, providing a natural aesthetic. However, wooden furnishings can require more maintenance.
Q. We love the look of wooden furnishings, but we’re concerned about maintenance requirements.
A. Look for furnishings made from thermally modified red oak, which uses a specialized process to heat the wood to a high temperature using steam. This transforms the wood on a molecular level into a highly durable outdoor material. The process prevents the wood from absorbing water and also renders it inedible to the critters that are drawn to unmodified wood. As a result, thermally modified red oak is far more durable, allowing it to rival the performance of many tropical hardwoods, but with a smaller impact on the environment.
Q. We’d like to use wooden furnishings, but are concerned about our ecological footprint.
A. Red oak is abundant in the U.S., and is mild to fast growing, making it a sustainable hardwood. What’s more, because the species is so plentiful—it accounts for 18% of the U.S. hardwood growing stock—its replacement rate is very low.
The red oak’s carbon sequestration potential and carbon offset value make it a more sustainable choice than many other materials. And while thermally modified ash has been commonly used, the dramatic impact of the Emerald Ash Borer over the past couple of decades limits the availability of ash.
Q. What else should we consider?
A. Thermally modified wood is highly durable, but it still can undergo many of the same changes as other wood. Without any kind of treatment, the wood will lighten in color, eventually turning silver. Wet-dry cycles will cause some boards to show superficial checking and occasionally, cracks near the boards’ ends as the wood adapts to its new environment. Notably, these checks and cracks will not worsen with time, and add to the unique character of each individual board.
For More Information