best wood for exterior beams

Best Wood for Exterior Beams: Which Type of Timber to Use

Exterior wood beams work by providing functionality, strength and aesthetic appeal of any woodworking project. They provide a good support to the roof, while playing a role in improving the appearance of a building. There are different types of timber that you can use for exterior beams. They usually go with different styles of homes. If you are planning to build outdoors, you may be wondering, what is the best wood for exterior beams? Let us find out. 

1. Birch

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If you are looking for timber that offers stability to your exterior wood beam, then birch is a good option to consider. It is highly stable, and is a high-density hardwood, making it ideal for porch, round, rectangular or square exterior beams. Though Birch may not be the hardest out there, it offers amazing durability properties. 

Birch also features straight grain pattern with waves and pores, adding a beautiful look. It is also good for high-end exterior beams, as it is heavier than most other softwoods and hardwoods that are also used for exterior beams. As a bonus, it is knots-free in nature and rot-resistant. 

2. White or Red Oak

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Oak is no doubt one of the most known woods used for exterior beams. It offers amazing strength and sturdiness, with good durability and dimensional stability. The size and shape of oak will not be changed easily even when exposed to extreme and harsh weather conditions. 

With the right maintenance, an exterior beam made of oak is expected to last long. White and red oak are among the most common options available. White oak with growth rings further adds a dramatic dark and light tone to the wood. 

3. Mahogany

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Mahogany is one of the best options for higher-end exterior beams. It is also ideal for making rectangular, square, octagon, or round exterior beams. When looking at the features of a timber that is to be used for exterior beams, you need to look into the timber’s water resistivity.

Mahogany offers amazing water-resistant capacity. It stands well against water and moisture than other wood types. Thus, the durability of exterior beams made of Mahogany is high. It is also attractive and durable at the same time. Since it is a heavy wood, it may only be recommended for woodworkers and professionals, not beginners. 

4. Cherry

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Cherry wood features reddish-brown texture, adding to the overall aesthetic appeal of your exterior beam. It is also a favored option among woodworkers because of its workability. The finishing properties of Cherry makes it ideal for making exterior beams with good gluing, screwing, polishing and nailing. 

If you consider yourself a beginner, Cherry is a good timber to work with. However, when talking about hardness, Cherry only comes with a rating of 950. Still, it offers good strength which is enough to be considered for exterior beams. 

5. Poplar

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Poplar is also ideal for exterior beams. It is stronger than most softwoods, but not stronger than many hardwoods. Still, its workability makes it a good option to consider. Since it is softer, manipulation using a saw, lather or router is easier. 

Note, though, that before you make an exterior beam with Poplar wood, sharpen your tools since Poplar timber tears easily when cutting using dull tools. While the strength and durability of Poplar is less, the right finishing techniques can make up the lack.

6. Cedar

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If you are after the aesthetic, then Cedar wood may be the best option for you. It features a pinkish-red color hue that will add an interesting touch to your building. This timber also offers good workability and finishing properties than other types of wood. 

Due to Cedar being lightweight and workable, it is a good choice for beginners. It is also known as one of the most rot-resistant and durable woods that are ideal for use outdoors. This is very important since you are making outdoor beams. 

7. Redwood

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Redwood is a wood that is very flexible, and can be worked with any woodworking project, exterior beams included. For one, it offers good durability and high weather resistance. This is very important since exterior beams are located outdoors. Its natural decay resistance capacity makes it a good choice as well.

As a bonus, you can also enjoy its attractive grain pattern that adds to the uniqueness of the house aesthetics. It also does not have bad fumes or chemicals that could be harmful. 

8. Yellow Pine

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This wood is highly available in most markets. It is affordable, with several good qualities. It is easy to cut and handle. Its workability and machinability are good. There are no bad fumes or chemicals inside this wood, thus making it safe for use. 

In order for this wood to be protected against cracks, dents and moisture, finishing is very important. Yellow Pine does not shrink, swell or change dimensions in cold and hot temperatures. 

9. Douglas Fir

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Douglas Fir is another amazing wood that can be used for exterior beams, especially in terms of paint grade or economy. It is strong and durable, though not as strong as other hardwoods. It offers good weather resistance, low warp and shrinkage. 

This timber can also withstand even the harshest conditions, showing amazing qualities in terms of strength and durability. 

10. Maple

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One of the most attractive features of Maple wood is its price. Still, despite being cheap, it offers amazing qualities. It is appealing and durable. It features a creamy sapwood color, with some brownish and pinkish tingle that makes it more modern and attractive. 

Due to the amazing physical characteristics and affordability of Maple wood, it is recommended for beginners in making exterior beams. 


In this article, we have covered the best wood for exterior beams. Again, as mentioned, you may need to choose the timber depending on the style of home or building that you want to build. Still, regardless of your option, the ones included in this list are the best options out there, and are guaranteed strong for use as exterior beams.  What are your thoughts on this? Feel free to share your opinions in the comments section below!



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