Selecting Outdoor Benches

Outdoor benches are an excellent way to enhance a garden, create additional seating in a backyard or add a resting spot for a business. With outdoor benches, you will discover a huge selection of materials such as stone, wood, concrete, brick, etc. Keep in mind that one type of material is not necessarily better than another with a few exceptions. As an example, if you choose something like granite, marble, stone, or concrete, the seats will be hard so if you are looking to provide a comfortable resting area, cushions would be required. In addition, some types of wood do better than others. Teak, redwood, beech, birch, cherry, ash, maple, oak, mahogany, poplar, walnut, pecan, and cedar are excellent choices for outdoors.

Since wood outdoor benches are the most popular, we will address those in particular for this article. First, wood is easy to work with, offers a warm, rich, and inviting appearance, and is very durable. Depending on the design of the outdoor bench, it may or may not be made with a combination of solid wood and veneer. Regardless of the type of wood being used, the quality of construction for the outdoor bench is crucial. First, the outdoor bench needs to be made using the best joint method and second, the outdoor bench must be stable and sturdy.

For the joints, manufacturers use a number of methods. The tongue and groove method is very popular in that it looks nice and neat while providing the needed stability. Another method is known as mortise and tenon, which involves a socket and two pieces of projecting wood. Other options for the joints include a doweled joint where a wood pin fits tightly into a drilled out hole, rabbeted and butted joint that has two pieces of wood placed at angles, glued, and stapled, bolted or corner blocked if rigidity is a concern, and finally, the least expensive method for outdoor bench joints is with stapling. The downside to this is that as people sit down and get up from the outdoor bench, the staples can eventually work free.

The second factor for selecting wooden outdoor benches is the stability and sturdiness. Since people of all sizes will be sitting down, you obviously want a bench that will accommodate various weights. To ensure sturdiness, you would need to make sure the bench meets certain criteria. If the bench has a back, then the outside posts or rungs on either side will need to go all the way through the bench seat to the underside, making the posts and rungs less likely to break. In addition, the legs of the outdoor bench need to be solid and large enough to handle weight.

One way to tell if the bench is not sturdy enough is to sit on it. If you hear a creaking noise, then you should be concerned. While sitting, move your weight back and forth a little to see if the bench feels secure or wobbly. You can also do a push / pull test with your hands, pressing on the bench's legs to see if they feel solid or loose. Most manufacturers will provide specifications on the various types of outdoor benches so you will know exactly the weight limitations, type of wood used, the joint process, and so on. Use this information to your advantage when selecting an outdoor bench so you end up with the type that best suits your needs.