WHY IS OAK SO SUITABLE FOR OUTDOOR FURNITURE?
Oak is a perfect timber to use outdoors as it is so durable and impermeable, which is why it has been used for centuries to build such things as ships, churches and barrels. The reasons behind oak’s wonderful durability are scientific, so we will have to dig into the biology of the tree to understand.
The cells of the tree get sealed by balloon like growths called tyloses, closing the ‘open pores’ and rendering the wood almost completely impermeable to any liquid and air. This tends to happen as the sapwood (the living outer rings of the tree) transitions to the heartwood (the dead, inner rings of the tree), although tyloses can be found in the sapwood.
Oak has high levels of tannic acid, commonly known as tannin and is a natural preservative and pesticide. It is well known for its usage to tan animal hides into leather.
The oak we use is from trees grown for around 120-150 years, which have been specially selected from an early age to produce the finest timber and nurtured in sustainably managed forests. The tightly closed cell structure means that once felled, oak takes a really long time to dry. Our oak is seasoned (carefully air dried) for 2-3 years before being kiln dried, this slow drying out process means the oak is incredibly stable when we come to work with it.
The tannin can leach from the sawn ends of the wood when it is exposed to moisture, and stain the environment around the furniture, such as paving. To lessen the effects of tannin leaching we fume the furniture in a chamber with ammonia before it starts life outside. Any staining that does occur can be removed by natural chemicals or if left exposed to the rain and sun for a time.