How to Not Use Pressure Treated Wood for your Outdoor Projects

April 22, 2021

Hi! I'm Nicole

Fearless DIY. Sharing building project tutorials and interior design tips. Let’s build something beautiful together. For more projects, design tips and behind the scenes, follow me @designtobuild.nicole

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Heading into our third summer with these modern outdoor chairs I built using just pine wood. Naysayers would say you need to use treated wood for outdoor projects, but three summers later, I’m happy to say our outdoor chairs are holding up great! My “secret?” At least 3 coats of really good quality polyurethane. I like to use General Finishes High Performance Top Coat. It can be a bit spendy, so a hack you can do to get around that is….Apply Varathane Satin Exterior Poly for your first two coats and then the good stuff (General Finishes) for your last coat. Works like a charm. And you’ll have plenty of the good stuff left over for upcoming projects, which is always nice! (Amazon Affiliate Links Included)

sideview of wood outdoor chairs on deck with striped blue cushions

Wood is so expensive right now and pressure treated wood is even more expensive, so why spend more than you have to? This is a tried and true way to get around that extra cost with an added benefit! You don’t have to wait the recommended one year to paint your project when using pine wood. I don’t know about you, but I’m just not patient enough for that. When I build an outdoor furniture piece, I want it to look good in my space here and now.  Can you imagine this gorgeous table in all natural wood color with no stain or accent colors? (You can find the plans to build your own here)

outdoor space deck with rug and farmhouse table

And as a side note, if you’re planning on building the table, you may also want the plans to the bench. They go perfectly together and again hold up great outdoors!

outdoor farmhouse wood table with bench

Pine wood isn’t the only great wood for outdoors (aside from pressure treated, of course, but we already went over why I’m not a fan of pressure treated). Another great wood for outdoors is cedar. I know! It’s expensive! But wait….dog ear fencing cedar is not bad at all. Fencing for something other than a fence? Yes! Isn’t it fun to think outside the box?! I used dog ear fencing cedar for a couple of my projects and both have held up fantastic!

After using pinewood to build my parents a flower box, and having it completely fall apart after just one summer  🙁    …I realized pine wood isn’t the answer to all outdoor projects. Especially ones like flower boxes that stay moist and wet most of the time. So, back to the drawing board and while perusing through Home Depot, it hit me! Dog ear fencing cedar. That’s it! By this time my parents had already bought a manufactured flower box for around 60 bucks. But I wanted one for my house and didn’t really want to spend that much money. With cedar dog ear fencing costing around a dollar a piece (at that time), what did I have to lose?  I love how my outdoor flower box turned out! Heading into the third summer with this gem too and it’s holding up great!

faux window with flower box and pink flowers

One of my first DIY projects was an outdoor kitchen space. It’s really truly not as hard as you would think. It’s basically no different than building a fireplace hearth and facing it with wood. I tell you this, because I don’t have the plans for this project–unfortunately. 🙁 This was built back before I got into blogging, so there was no reason to write down the plans. Sorry! But just like the fireplace hearth or a bench seat, you build up your base with 2×4’s and face/wrap it with the wood of your choice. (Here’s another post on how to build a fireplace hearth). I chose cedar dog ear fencing for my outdoor kitchen. Why did I choose that over pine wood? I liked the texture of the dog ear fencing better. The dog ear fencing is going to give a bit of a rougher surface and at the time, I wanted that look for my outdoor kitchen. If I had it to do over, I might choose to use pine wood, but then again, maybe not. Either one looks and works great!

outdoor kitchen made of cedar wood with a weber grill


So, what do you think? Are you ready to give any of these projects a try? If so, be sure to share it and tag me on Instagram and I’ll send you a Starbucks gift card. I love to see how your projects turn out! This summer, I’ll be building some more outdoor projects…patio furniture, planters and a privacy screen for our pergola are a few items on the docket. Would love for you to follow along! And even more so…follow the plan and build it too! You’ve got this! Stay tuned for the plans coming this summer!



Until next week,

Happy Building, Friend!!

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Other Great Outdoor Posts:

How to Limewash Brick Exterior-A Complete Makeover

The Best Modern Farmhouse Exterior Paint Colors

New Front Door and What to Consider


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