Types of tropical wood and their exterior applications

Garden furniture, decking, sheds and summerhouses all need to withstand a punishing range of elements (especially in the UK) from sunshine to torrential rain, thunderstorms, to heavy frosts – as well as fungi and dirt.

But there are certain types of timber that are naturally robust, strong and durable and can withstand variations in weather, moisture and even offer rot resistance. Which is why, in this article, we have chosen to focus on these types of tropical hardwoods and their exterior applications.

Hardwood should really be your first choice when it comes to garden furniture projects. Hardwoods generally have higher density and natural strength than most softwoods, as a result of their slower growth time and increased natural durability. They are also more resistant to knocks and scrapes, making them pet and family-friendly.

The most popular tropical hardwoods for exterior applications are:


A great candidate for outdoor applications is teak, which for many years has been a popular choice for high-end boat building and therefore a good candidate for outdoor applications.

Teak is prized for its durability and stability, it won’t shrink or expand much with changes in humidity, and its natural oils and extractives repel water.

The only problem is that not all teak on the market is sustainably sourced, so look out for FSC(r) certified sustainably forested teak.


While less expensive than teak, another top choice for outdoor applications is Iroko. Iroko is a durable West African hardwood that is famous for combining good durability with stability and ease of work.

Coating the wood with a stain will retain its beautiful reddish colour, however, if left untreated it will maintain its durability for a long time, but will fade to grey.

Ipe (also known as  Brazilian walnut or lapacho)

One of the world’s hardest and most durable species, Ipe is also a very stable hardwood that is both insect and rot-resistant, making it the ideal type of wood for street furniture products, such as benches, traffic barriers, bollards, and road signs.

Ipe also weathers very well and generally maintains its hues of yellow to olive brown for a good time.


Much like Ipe, Cumaru is known for its strength, however presents a cheaper alternative for those looking for a lower-cost hardwood. Commonly used in heavy construction as well as turned objects such as handles, Cumaru has earned a reputation as a versatile choice. As well as it’s practical properties, it also interestingly emits a pleasant vanilla scent when being worked.


The only temperate hardwood here is also of the most classic of choices (together with Eucalyptus). Oak is not as durable as the tropical hardwoods listed above, nor as strong, however its style is timeless and being such a familiar timber species makes it a constant favourite. Beware of the many differences between subspecies. French Oak is usually more durable than Turkish or American Oak.

If you follow our pointers and choose the right timber species for the job you’ll have some great-looking, long-lasting garden furniture, decking, or outhouse that really adds value to your garden or outdoor space.

So if you are ready to start your outdoor project get in touch with our team on sales@ecochoice.co.uk or 0345 638 1340

Tags: ,


How can we help?