I'd like to build a wooden staircase outside my kitchen window
(eventually will be a door).
What's the best wood for outdoors? I seem to remember reading that some
woods will last well even without sealants and such they'll turn gray,
but will be fine.
I'm not super interested in recycled-plastic materials, but considering
Standard construction would use Redwood. Pretty much impervious to
water problems. At the other end of the spectrum is Teak which is used
for boat decks, etc. Will last much longer than redwood and cost a lot
more but a real Cadillac solution. White Oak is also considered a good
outdoor wood (not Red Oak). Cedar is good in weather too. Finally, lots
of folks are touting Ipe. It is a Teak look alike that is becoming very
popular for decking. Others may be able to comment on it's cost,
availability and viability.
Whatever Ipe may be, it is not a _teak_ lookalike, it looks a lot more like
walnut. There seems to be this notion being spread by some folks that Ipe
is some kind of cheap imitation teak. Other than being a decay-resistant
tropical hardwood there's little resemblance between them. Ipe is almost
twice as dense, about three times as hard, about twice as strong, and has
about twice the shrinkage.
It's a commonly used decking material, it's hard, strong, decay resistant,
and doesn't burn without a huge amount of help. Pricing varies all over
the place. It's certainly viable.
Ipe. Very hard, 3 times harder than Oak, 50 year life expectancy out doors
with out needing a finish and is fire rated. Very often used for decking.
It should be readily available and relatively inexpensive. Once sanded it
will not splinter so it will be kind to bare feet.
Predrill for screws and use carbide blades.
The 'classic' durable, "no-finish" woods are:
teak (if you're _really_ rich! :)
There's also "pressure treated" (e.g. 'Wolmanized") pine (and similar).
All of the above are comparatively soft, and the top-front edge of a stair
tread _will_ wear, under even only fairly light traffic.
Next there is ipe. Harder to find, but durable enough it can be a bit of a
pain to work with.
Good enough for carrier decks, I think it'd hold up.
I'd opt for black locust if I could find it. Other hardwood commonly
used for fencposts should be good too. Those include Osage Orange
(aka hedge, aka bois d'arc, aka bodark) and sassafrass. If the
climate is rather dry, Doug Fir or White Oak would be fine.
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