Love the look of teak wood for your patio but can’t afford its hefty prices? You’re in luck. Acacia wood has many of the same properties, with a beautiful golden hue and unique wood patterns, but with a much lower price tag. But is it any good for outdoor furniture?
Yes, acacia wood is good for outdoor furniture. It’s durable, affordable, eco-friendly, and naturally weather- and rot-resistant. Acacia will last decades with proper maintenance and keeping it away from high heat sources like fire pits and barbecues.
Advantages of Acacia Wood
More affordable than teak. Teak is fantastic, but it’s out of the price range for most of us. Acacia wood looks like teak and has many of the same properties, but is a much more affordable option.
Durable and pliable. Unlike other hardwoods, freshly cut acacia is very pliable, allowing woodworkers to shape and reshape it into unique shapes. As the wood dries, it becomes durable and hard. That’s why acacia is so perfect for outdoor furniture. You have to work hard to scratch it. Properly cared for, acacia outdoor furniture lasts several decades.
Weather-resistant and rot-resistant. Acacia is naturally weather-resistant and rot-resistant, and could last some time on your deck or patio without sealant. Properly sealed, though, it’ll keep its golden colour even in the sunlight. Regular oiling or waxing will prolong its life into decades.
Sustainable and eco-friendly. Just because acacia wood is affordable, doesn’t mean it’s not also sustainable and eco-friendly. Acacia wood is so abundant and fast-growing that it’s considered an invasive species in some places. Acacia wood is actually grown for its sap (Arabic gum), which is used for different things, including medicines and food. The wood is the byproduct that would otherwise be mulched.
Long and short pieces. Acacia trees are typically harvested at eight feet, but they can grow to over 80 feet in height, making it easier to get longer pieces to make long benches or buffet-style tables in one piece.
Disadvantages of Acacia Wood
Requires a high level of maintenance. Acacia wood requires more than a wipe down with a damp rag to keep looking its best. Liquids like perfume, alcohol and the silicone found in many polishing products will pull moisture out of the wood, resulting in cracking. Regular oiling or waxing will prevent that from happening.
Must avoid high temperatures. Acacia wood does best with a temperate and consistent environment, which means you don’t want to place it next to a fire pit or even leave it in direct sun or it will warp and darken. Avoid leaving hot dishes and drinks on acacia wood or you’ll find a dark circle underneath. If you leave it in direct sun, rotate it so at least it gets the same treatment all over.
Sensitive to humidity. Like other hardwood, acacia is sensitive to moisture and humidity. Too dry, and the wood becomes brittle. Too humid, and the wood will absorb the moisture and warp. To combat this, you’ll need to either oil it twice a year or wax it once a year. (But don’t do both! Decide upfront what you’ll do and don’t switch.)
Acacia Wood vs Teak Wood | What’s the Difference?
Acacia wood can be indistinguishable from teak wood at first glance, although you can tell the difference by shining a blacklight on the wood. Acacia will glow while teak won’t.
Acacia wood has a lower oil content than teak, so it needs to be coated in wax to keep it from drying out. It also grows more branches, meaning there will be more knots in the wood, which can render some parts of it unusable for furniture.
But in terms of quality, they’re on similar grounds, so go with what fits your pocketbook. If you need a lighter piece of wood for a slender part of furniture, go with acacia wood.
How to Care for Acacia Wood Outdoors?
Keep acacia wood under shade and away from heat. Acacia wood warps if left near heat and will fade in direct sun (oil or wax will help). Don’t set hot dishes or drinks onto the wood or the wood will turn dark.
Practice proper cleaning. I know, I know, I said above that acacia wood takes more than a damp rag to maintain, but it is the basis for proper care. By removing dust and preventing accumulation, you help the wood preserve its integrity and avoid drying or cracking.
Use a gentle soap to clean. Avoid using anything with silicone or ammonia products as they will dry out the wood and lead to cracking. A gentle soap is all you need.
Cover furniture and wipe up wet spots. Cover up your furniture in between use, and wipe it dry if it gets wet. Acacia wood is pretty weather-resistant, but it’s still wood, and anything you can do to keep it from getting and staying wet will increase its life.
Oil or wax the wood regularly. Left unprotected, the sun will turn the wood gray and humidity or dryness will cause cracks. To prevent this, either oil or wax the wood. Oiling with linseed or tung oil is a pretty easy but time-consuming process that should be done twice a year. Wax will last longer, so you only need to wax once a year, but it’s way more frustrating. Pick one and stick to it. Do not oil one year and wax the next.
Is Acacia Wood a Sustainable Option?
Yes, acacia wood is a sustainable option. It grows quickly with no fertilizers or pesticides, and it’s grown for its Arabic gum sap, which is used in many products, with the wood as a bonus. To ensure sustainable practices, look for FSC certified wood.
What’s the Verdict?
Acacia is a budget-friendly alternative to teak wood for outdoor furniture, although, like all wood furniture, it requires more maintenance than other options like plastic resin. If you love the look of wood furniture and are willing to put in the work to maintain it, then acacia wood is for you. If you have the budget, look into teak wood.
If the maintenance is a non-starter, then go for something like aluminum or plastic resin (you can find sustainable versions too).