is poplar wood good for outdoor use

Is Poplar Wood Good for Outdoor Use? The Pros and Cons

In the world of woodworking, Poplar wood is one of the most popular options for almost any type of furniture making. This type of wood is distributed widely throughout regions in North Africa, North America, Asia and Europe. If you have gotten hold of this type of wood, you may now be thinking, is Poplar wood good for outdoor use? Let us see. 

Poplar Wood – A Hardwood

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Poplar wood is categorized as a hardwood. It features a good bending strength, high density and compressive strength, even better than other softwoods. On the other hand, it features a very low strength value compared with other hardwoods. Also, since Poplar wood does not creative a durable and regular heartwood, you may want to consider before putting your furniture outside for fear that wetting issues can decay the wood quite fast. 

If you choose to put your furniture outdoor, it is best to select an area with less moisture. This is because even though you may have done your best to apply a good finishing using a sealer or paint, moisture absorption cannot be completely stopped. However, proper sealing and painting can significantly decrease the wetting issue. 

Painting the outer part of the wood will also lessen the transport of water from the outside. To make sure that you can use your Poplar wood outdoors, it may be wise to invest on the finishing part of your woodworking project. 

Poplar Wood Characteristics

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By nature, Poplar wood is not rot resistant. In fact, it is extremely sensitive for moisture levels outdoors, and can decay quite easily. This type of wood also does not feature natural water resistance, thus allowing water droplets to enter the wood, and begin the rotting process from the interior parts. This ca be prevented, however, by applying a sealer before keeping it in. In terms of appearance, Poplar wood is also considered as one of the most beautiful woods which may be used for both outdoor and interior wood projects with the right finishing and maintenance. 

With the right finishing applied, poplar wood makes an ideal option for outdoor use. It features a uniform texture that further introduces a modern and aesthetic look to your furniture outside. Among the most common uses of outdoor wood projects using Poplar wood includes making a patio chair, garden gate, outdoor bench and gardening beds. With the right finishing and proper care and maintenance, Poplar wood may be used for almost any type of woodworking application. 

Poplar Wood for Outdoor Use

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Poplar wood can be used for making woodworking projects and furniture for outdoor use without problems at all. However, there are certain factors that needs to be taken into consideration. For one, it is important to make sure that the wood is kept in an environment that is dry and with less moisture. This is because this type of wood is quite sensitive to moisture levels outside, and offers less resistance to the various elements of the environment.

Compared with other hardwoods, Poplar wood is generally less durable. The good news is that you can further enhance its durability. This can be done by applying proper finish on the project. Without the right finishing, the product may not be durable enough and may be easily attacked by moisture. As a general rule of thumb, giving attention to the finish is as important as the actual process of making the furniture or other projects. 

Poplar Wood for Outdoor Use – The Pros

Poplar wood offers several features that make it ideal for making outdoor furniture and other woodworking projects. When it comes to advantages, the following are some of the benefits that you can expect in using Poplar wood outdoors. 

  • Soft Hardwood

Whether a wood is considered softwood or hardwood is not dependent on the hardness or density of wood but the botanical classification of a species. Woodworkers measure the density or hardness of wood using the Janka scale. Poplar wood has a score rating of 420, placing it in the similar category as other softwoods. This means that Poplar wood can happily sit in between hardwoods and softwoods, making it suited for new woodworkers. 

With this said, Poplar wood offers the following:

  • Easy to work with
  • It cooperates with tools such as jigsaws, bandsaws and lathes
  • It takes nails and screws well
  • It is easy to sand and achieve a good finish
  • Stronger than other softwoods 
  • High Density Wood

This means that Poplar wood is naturally stronger than others. As such, it is stiffer compared with other softwoods, while having the capacity to deal with higher lateral and vertical loads. Since it features higher density, it also offers better fire resistance. They are also easy to machine without worrying about splitting or tearing. 

  • Lightweight

Since Poplar wood is lightweight, it is easy to manipulate and position in the shop. Using this type of wood to manufacture furniture for outdoor use makes it dependable enough to offer extra support to weight. 

Poplar Wood for Outdoor Use – The Cons

While using Poplar wood outdoors offer advantages, there are also some disadvantages that you need to realistically know about. 

  • Vulnerable to Water

Naturally, Poplar is prone to water damage. In fact, if lumber is not treated and left in a damp climate, it may only last up to 4 years. 

  • Dents and Scratches Easily

As a softwood, Poplar has the tendency to dent and scratch quickly. This means that tight fitting joints may wear out eventually, feeling loose fast. Since it is also less dense, it may be easy to sand, but the waste may be fuzzy. This can be solved, however, with the us of fine sandpaper grit to make sure that sanding marks are avoided in areas that are completed. 


So, is Poplar wood good for outdoor use? As a hardwood, it is suited even for outdoor use. However, its quality can only be maximized if it is kept moisture-free and dry, given its nature of not being resistant to elements outdoors, thus having the tendency to decay fast. With the right methods for finishing, furniture made from Poplar wood, as well as other woodworking projects, are ideal for use outdoors. This means that proper maintenance and care is very important for furniture made of Poplar wood.



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