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6 list of Rot-Resistant Woods For Your Backyard Projects



Do you have a list of backyard projects you’re itching to start this season? If you plan on building a deck, assembling a walkway, or even building outdoor furniture, you’ll need some lumber to complete the job.

The trick is to choose wood that ensures your project stands the test of time and the elements. From sunlight and rain to moisture and pests, many factors can turn your project from hot to rot in the blink of an eye.

While no wood out there is guaranteed to withstand every element for decades to come, some are durable enough to ensure the time, effort, and dedication you put into your backyard projects are well worth the effort.

Know your Wood

Man cutting wood with saw.

When deciding on what materials you need to build your backyard project, your first decision is likely to choose between natural wood or composite. Composite is manufactured to look like natural wood but is made of synthetic materials. Some builders are drawn to composite because it’s said to be easy to maintain and more durable than some other woods. On the other hand, natural wood is an inexpensive, environmentally friendly option that is just as durable if you choose the suitable wood species. Unlike composite, natural wood can be stripped, sanded, and recycled for versatility and eco-friendly benefits.

If you opt for natural wood, the next step is choosing between softwoods or hardwoods.

Hardwood is denser, stronger, and more durable than softwood. It tends to be used for projects that need to be built to last, such as decks and flooring. Common hardwoods include mahogany, teak, and oak. Overall, hardwood is more expensive to purchase compared to softwood.

Softwood is flexible and less dense than hardwood. It is still commonly used for building components, but its use ranges for projects with less high-traffic such as windows and doors. Common softwoods include cedar, pine, and redwood.

Overall, hardwood is known to be more rot-resistant than softwood, but many softwood varieties are also rot-resistant and serves you well in your backyard projects.

Treated Southern Yellow Pine

When it comes to choosing the best timber for your backyard projects, treated Southern Yellow Pine is one of the most popular choices among builders thanks to its durability.

Pressure-treated wood is wood that has gone through a process of high pressure to force water and preservatives deep into the wood to extend its lifespan. This treatment is intended to slow the natural decay of wood and resist moisture and pests that cause wood rot.

After being pressure treated, this straight grain wood is durable enough to handle high-traffic use, and it has a tight, dense grain, meaning you won’t see it warping and cracking.

Most importantly, because of its pressure treatment, this yellowish-white softwood is rot-resistant and able to withstand the toughest weather conditions for anywhere between 10 and 40 years. Its longevity depends on the maintenance put in over the years. Applying a yearly coat of water-repellent treatment, brush-treating raw exposed wood, and using corrosion-resistant screws, gives your projects a longer lifespan.

Treated Southern Yellow Pine works well if you’re building decks, gazebos, and fencing.

If durability and rot-resistance is your goal, Ipe is a hardwood that’s up for the challenge!

Ipe varies in color between reddish brown, to a more yellowish or darker brown. Its grain ranges from straight to irregular or interlocked and has a fine to medium texture.

Because Ipe is known to be a dense wood, it can be difficult to build with, so take this into consideration when choosing the lumber for your next project. It will likely dull your steel tools so consider investing in a carbide saw to get the job done. Even so, being difficult to work with has its benefits as Ipe lasts up to 75 years when adequately cared for.

Ipe decking has the benefit of usingit in areas that are prone to moisture as it surpasses the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements for Static Coefficient of friction in a wet environment.

Fun fact: Ipe was used as the decking on Coney Island’s boardwalk!

Ipe works well if you’re building pool decks, docks, or walkways near water. They’re even great as flooring indoors.


While Ipe is a tough lumber to build with, Redwood is quite the opposite.

This softwood’s grain is mostly straight, with some irregular waves, and has a coarse texture. Its red and yellow hues are sure to make them a stand-out, visually appealing choice.

Redwood for your backyard projects is a great option for durability and rot-resistance. When purchasing, keep in mind that Redwood from old-growth trees are more durable than younger, second growth trees, also known as trees that have grown back after being cut down.

Redwood’s lifespan runs between 10 and 30 years, depending on the maintenance it receives. Refinishing and sealing your projects on a yearly basis keeps it looking fresh for decades to come.

Redwood makes for excellent lumber when building patio covers, structural beams, and outdoor furniture.

Western Red Cedar

Western Red Cedar has a rich color tone ranging from light tan to a deep reddish-brown hue. Over time, Western Red Cedar develops a silver-grey patina, which gives the wood a rustic feel.

Western Red Cedar has a straight grain and coarse texture. It’s a softwood that is resistant to rot, decay, and pests, ensuring your backyard projects are built to last. This wood is versatile as it can be left untreated, or be planed and shaped as desired. Either way, it’s resistant to warping and shrinking, making it a builder’s dream.

Western Red Cedar will last anywhere from 10 to 25 years, depending on the maintenance it receives. This wood benefits from being either well stained or sealed and then re-sealed every few years.

Western Red Cedar makes excellent lumber for building shingles, wall paneling, and fencing.

Teak is well-known for being a durable and rot-resistant wood, especially to pests such as termites.

This hardwood has straight to wavy grain that is coarse and uneven in texture. Its color ranges between golden or medium brown and darkens with age.

Be mindful that teak contains high silica content, which means it may blunt sharp tools. For this reason, it’s better to leave your steel tools in storage and only use more durable tools, such as carbide, on this wood.

With proper care including cleaning and sealing, teak decking lasts between 10 and 15 years.

Teak makes for excellent lumber for outdoor benches, chairs, and boat decking.


Mahogany is most recognizable for its rich and unique reddish-brown hues.

This hardwood is rot and decay-resistant and ready to take on your backyard project! Its resistant to the elements ensures that your projects last up to 40 years with proper maintenance, including resealing or sanding every few years.

As an added bonus, its grain is so tightly interwoven, making Mahogany an excellent option if you’re looking for a strong and durable wood.

Mahogany makes excellent lumber for decking, fencing, and porches.
Take your Pick!

Between hardwood and softwood, there are a variety of rot-resistant wood options to choose from for your next backyard project. From decking and fencing to gazebos and outdoor furniture, there is bound to be a wood that fits your project. The only hard decision is deciding what you’re going to build first!

Have you tackled a backyard project recently? Which wood worked best for you? Share in the comments below!

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