Southern Yellow Pine for patio furniture?

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Forum topic by Danielsmj posted 08-28-2018 02:43 AM 2280 views 1 time favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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7 posts in 791 days

08-28-2018 02:43 AM

I’m fairly new to woodworking, at least new to attempting to build any sort of legitimate furniture. I plant to build some outdoor furniture to go on a covered deck. For the obvious cost benefits I would like to use southern yellow pine as I’m sure I’ll make mistakes and would rather not waste expensive wood. I don’t know if this is a bad idea in general, or if I should use pressure treated lumber for this? My initial thought was to use untreated kiln dried SYP as it will be dryer than PT and hopefully result in leas wood movement. I was hoping I could find a finish durable enough to protect the pine….Thoughts?

Question number two…I’ve considered adding in some sort of inlay to the top of the arms of the chairs just to add some detail to the mundane pine, but I’m worried that no matter how dry, pine will have too much movement compared to a hardwood (I have a bit of bubinga that might work)? Thoughts?

10 replies so far

View Woodknack's profile


13503 posts in 3264 days

#1 posted 08-28-2018 03:03 AM

1) Covered deck, as in always dry? Sure, no problem. Seal the end grain, keep it dry and out of the dirt.
2) I don’t know that pine moves more than hardwood, maybe it does, but pine is annoying to carve because the alternating hard/soft growth rings. Even if you use a router, it tends to surge when it enters the soft ring. I would choose something else. But then I’m bad at stuff like that so maybe it’s just me.

-- Rick M,

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7 posts in 791 days

#2 posted 08-28-2018 03:27 AM

I wouldn’t say always dry. While it would never be in direct rain fall, when it rains hard with a strong wind, everything under the roof of the deck gets wet. So there is still some exposure to the elements.

View Dark_Lightning's profile


4210 posts in 3993 days

#3 posted 08-28-2018 03:43 AM

GM used SYP for the wood beds in their trucks. That stuff lasted for decades in that application. If you expect more than a couple of decades out of that deck, it’s going to cost you. Trucks didn’t get any treatment but stuff thrown in the bed. If you’re using SYP for a deck and treating it, you might have even longer term results. Other people with more experience with SYP will be weighing in, I hope.

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

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13503 posts in 3264 days

#4 posted 08-28-2018 04:26 AM

You’ll be fine. My wife confiscated a 2×12 pine box I was throwing away, for a flower bed. It was outside for years until the screws rusted away and it fell apart but the boards were fine. The pine will be okay if it’s mostly dry and kept out of dirt. It rots when moisture gets sucked up into the end grain along with mold, fungus, which eats the wood. Keep the moisture out, the wood will last a long time.

-- Rick M,

View WoodenDreams's profile


1163 posts in 795 days

#5 posted 08-28-2018 04:57 AM

1…. Yellow pine will work, But you have to put on a good sealant or stain to protect from Moisture. And you should recoat it yearly or every other year, to get long lasting use. If one board should rot after a few years, just replace the one board and reseal or recoat. 2….. pine does have more movement than the hardwoods. You shouldn’t have too much problem as long as you coat or seal it. and reseal it every couple years for longevity.

View bondogaposis's profile


5873 posts in 3236 days

#6 posted 08-28-2018 01:06 PM

SYP will be fine, no need for treated.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View swirt's profile


5573 posts in 3856 days

#7 posted 08-28-2018 01:15 PM

Agree. SYP is fine getting wet. The problems come when it stays wet, so as long as it has the means to dry out, then it should be fine. Though for nearly the same price the HD near me sells 2×6x8 rough cut cedar which is a bit more rot resistant.

-- Galootish log blog,

View DBDesigns's profile


232 posts in 882 days

#8 posted 08-28-2018 02:44 PM

Southern yellow pine is one of my favorite woods to work with. It is inexpensive, versatile, and can be very beautiful if the knots and figures are presented well. It smells great in your shop when you mill it too.

I don’t know where you live but here in the south, pine doesn’t just move in the humidity…it frickin squirms!
I would consider using some creative grain change rather than mixing woods. Similar movement will be an advantage once the furniture adjusts to it’s environment. BTW pine step tread stock at HD is a great source of wide 5/4 SYP.

As far as finish, there are tons of new stain, paint, and sealer technologies out there. Since the wood is cheap, you can experiment all you want.

Also, I use PT as little as possible in the shop because I compost my sawdust and I don’t have a way to deal with the toxins from the pressure treating process so I have to use separate dust collection. It has its place but I don’t want to deal with the dust in the shop. ( It’s for building decks and for bottom plates when you are framing on concrete slabs.)

Good point about the truck beds. I wish I had one of those old trucks. With a dent in every fender, a rifle rack with a 4’ level in it, and a Willie Nelson For President bumper sticker!

I have found the exact opposite about most species of cedar. My brother spent 25 years running a business here in Georgia replacing rotten cedar on the sides of houses and on decks. We are in a VERY humid environment. The bugs hate it but it melts when you add water. I think the problem is that the grain is so open and the wood is less dense so it holds water longer than other woods like PT. The up-side of cedar is that it is easy to mill, it finishes nicely, and the furniture will not weigh as much. It also smells great when you mill it.

Just my two cents and worth every cent you paid for it.

Have fun and stay safe,

-- I remember when Grateful wasn't Dead

View Vicki's profile


1128 posts in 4229 days

#9 posted 08-28-2018 04:50 PM

I used untreated pine for two benches that I spray painted. They’ve been on a covered porch for 3-4 yrs and look great!

-- Vicki on the Eastern Shore of MD

View Danielsmj's profile


7 posts in 791 days

#10 posted 08-28-2018 05:29 PM

Sounds like untreated SYP is a viable choice since it seems others have had some good success with it. I think it will be able to dry out in between any heavy rains that might soak the covered parts of the deck so we should be ok there.

Cedar’s not a bad idea, I don’t usually see a lot of thick (2x) cedar in the home centers around here (Upstate South Carolina) but since you mentioned it, I did a few searches and they at least say they carry some 2x cedar in home depot. I might look into that a bit more as I do like the look and smell of cedar, and since it’s a bit of a natural bug repellent maybe it will keep spiders out of the cushions? IDK if it repels bugs that well, but if it does, that would be a plus to me.

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