Outdoor Furniture

Types of Redwood: 5 Wood Grades to Choose From

Forever Redwood offers 5 types of Redwood Wood Grades. Below are images showing the different types of wood grades with the most popular sealant option (the recommended Transparent Premium Sealant). From left to right: Douglas-fir, Mosaic Eco-wood, California Redwood, Mature Redwood and Old-Growth Redwood:

Below are scanned images with our Transparent Premium Sealant added. Unfinished boards are lighter in tone. Exact colors vary somewhat since each individual tree's wood color is not exactly the same:

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Douglas-fir:
#1 Structural Select Grade (or better). Mostly Open Grain.
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Mosaic Eco-Wood:
All Reclaimed Wood. Combination of the Other 4 Grades of Wood.
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California Redwood:
Con-Common Grade (or better). Open-Grain
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Mature Redwood:
Select-Heart Grade (or better). Open-Grain.
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Old-Growth Redwood:
All Reclaimed Wood. Select-Heart Grade (or better). Tight-Grain

For more on the extraordinary characteristics of Redwood and how we prepare the timbers, please go to: Redwood TImbers: Advantages & Characteristics

Forever Redwood offers warranties of up to thirty years. The secret to longevity begins and ends with the wood:

  • Redwood is the most moisture and insect resistant wood species that grows naturally in N. America.
  • All Forever Redwood furniture boards are cut extra-thick for added longevity. Just compare the girth of our products with our competitors. Thin and light wood furniture just can't survive decades out in the weather.
  • All boards are air and/or kiln-dried to a 12% moisture content for the best long-term finish and stability.
  • Each Forever Redwood item is hand built. Each board is hand selected for optimal results. For example, tabletops, armrests, bench seats and other furniture sections that come into regular human contact are made with vertical grain boards. Vertical grain is the most expensive lumber on the market because it is stronger, more dimensionally stable, and insures no splintering in future years/decades.
  • Forever Redwood is rustic yet elegant furniture. To keep the rustic flavor, interesting grain patterns and some small sound knots are included in each piece to add contrast and highlights. We combine the rustic flavor with fine sanding (220 grit) for a smooth-to-the-touch finish.
  • Although not recommended, if you prefer 100% knot-free furniture in any wood grade, just let us know. Knot-free is not recommended because the knots normally included are small and sound and knot-free lumber has less interesting grain patterns (mostly straight lines). There is a surcharge for knot-free orders that varies according to the item.

California Redwood:

Redwood Like all wood species, Redwood is available in several grades depending on where the board is cut in a tree trunk, how old the tree is, how the wood developed and in what direction the board was cut. Our Redwood grade is an attractive high-quality wood from trees averaging 50 to 80 years of age. The grades of Redwood vary from con-common to A-grade clear. Most boards have open grain (less than eight growth rings per inch).

The only difference between Redwood and the Mature Redwood grade is the inclusion of “sapwood”. Sapwood is the wood that grew in the last 20 years or so of a tree’s life prior to being harvested (outer perimeter of a tree trunk). Sapwood has less decay resistance than the “heartwood” that grew earlier in the tree’s life. Sapwood is vanilla/tan color and makes up varying percentages of each Redwood grade board (on average under 30%). The heartwood of the Redwood grade is similar in color to the light reddish brown of the Mature Redwood (the only variation is the natural slight differences in wood color that occur from tree to tree). In the Redwood swatch above, you can see the lighter colored sapwood on the left side versus the majority of the board.

Left out in the harsh year-round sun, rain and snow without maintenance, Redwood is guaranteed not to decay in any climate for 15 years. In most cases, you can expect it to last longer. Click here to see how to keep your furniture looking new and lasting even longer . Redwood is an excellent choice for most outdoor applications and is our most popular grade. Furniture built in Redwood saves you over 20% versus having it made identically in Mature Redwood.

Mature Redwood:

Mature Redwood Is a beautiful premium quality Redwood grade (from trees averaging 100 years of age). It is all-heartwood and most boards have open grain (less than eight growth rings/inch). Grades vary from select-heart to clear heart. Mature Redwood is usually a lighter shade of reddish brown than Old-Growth (see above photos).

Left out in the harsh year-round sun, rain and snow without maintenance, our Mature Redwood is guaranteed not to decay in any climate for 20 years. In almost all cases, it can be expected to last much longer. Redwood is the most moisture and insect resistant wood species that grows naturally in N. America. Mature Redwood has decay and moisture resistance equal to or greater than the highest grades of Teak available today. Click here to see how to keep your furniture looking new and lasting even longer.

Mature Redwood is an excellent value because of its great moisture and insect resistance and significant cost savings in relation to the Old-Growth Redwood. You won’t have to replace the set for decades whether you decide to do some aesthetic maintenance every few years or not.

Old-Growth Redwood:

Old-Growth Redwood Is an exceptional quality wood (from trees over 200 years old). Forever Redwood’s Old-Growth comes from logs left on the ground when the forest was first logged between 1880 and 1970. Yes it's 100% reclaimed lumber. The all-heartwood Old-Growth is extremely resistant to decay/insects and remains perfect after lying outdoors for up to 130 years!

Most boards have tight grain because the trees grew slowly in a competitive environment—more than 10 annual growth rings/inch (sometimes up to 30 rings/inch). Grades are select-heart to clear-heart.

Some of these trees were alive over 1,500 years ago. Unfortunately, because of over-logging, very little of this precious wood is available anywhere anymore. Forever Redwood is the only company that still makes furniture from Old-Growth Redwood (that we know of!). Forever Redwood’s conservative forest management practices works with the forest to naturally bring back the giant old trees overtime. The main point is to harvest significantly less than the forest naturally produces. By doing this, the forest trees on average get larger with each passing decade. It is not rocket science, but, unfortunately, it is rarely practiced elsewhere.

Left out in the harsh year-round sun, rain and snow without maintenance, Old-Growth Redwood is guaranteed not to decay in any climate for 30 years. In most cases, it will last longer. Old-Growth Redwood has no peers in terms of decay resistance. It easily outlasts plantation-grown Teak. Click here to see how to keep your furniture looking new and lasting even longer.

Mosaic Eco-Wood:

Mosaic Eco-Wood Is a beautiful wood grade manufactured in our shop since 2009. Each board is a mosaic of small reclaimed pieces of all 4 Redwood and Douglas-fir grades. The contrast of colors and grains is eye-catching, but best of all—the wood is 100% recycled material. Mosaic Eco-Wood is made via labor intensive hand-jointing techniques in our shop to convert small pieces back into beautiful strong “thick-timber” boards. Although Mosaic Eco-Wood is labor intensive, we are thrilled to finally stop sending these small beautiful pieces of wood to the local landfill. It is 100% post-manufacturing recycled material.

The Mosaic Eco-Wood boards purposefully have an occasional tiny knot included to add interesting and contrasting grain patterns to the furniture.

Left out in the harsh year-round sun, rain and snow without maintenance, our Mosaic Eco-Wood is guaranteed not to decay in any climate for 12 years. Click here to see how to keep your furniture looking new and lasting even longer . Mosaic Eco-Wood is an excellent choice for most applications. Indoors, furniture made from Mosaic Eco-Wood boards can be expected to last decades. To add a bit more protection for most outdoor applications we recommend our premium sealant options (see Finish Options & Furniture Care).

Douglas-fir:

Douglas-fir Is a strong economical alternative (from trees averaging 50 to 100 years of age). Although the Forever Redwood forestlands are mostly Redwood, about 1/3rd of the conifer trees are Douglas-fir. Douglas-fir is an excellent way to get any item in our catalog for approximately 20% less cost than having it made in Redwood.

The Douglas-fir grades vary from #1 structural select up to clear vertical grain. Most boards have open grain (less than eight growth rings per inch). It is a combination of a light tan color with occasional streaks of slightly darker shades.

Left out in the harsh year-round sun, rain and snow without maintenance, Douglas-fir is guaranteed not to decay in any climate for 10 years. It is structurally stronger and heavier than Redwood. It is lower priced because it usually does not last as long as Redwood outdoors.

In contrast with Redwood, Douglas-Fir exposed to the elements usually needs resealing to avoid the surface getting overly dry. It will easily last 10 years or more without resealing, but it may develop cracks and a brittle look in some climates. With pavilions, sheds and gazebos, it can be an issue only with the exposed perimeter timbers, but for pergolas and most furniture pieces, all the exposed surfaces should be resealed as needed.

Resealing is a simple rag light rubbing without need for sanding or power washing. It adds oils to the wood and keeps it supple and beautiful. In dry arid climates we recommend front loading the resealing by doing it within 6 months of assembly. Watch the wood for signs of drying and reseal as needed. For a tabletop for example, resealing takes 10 minutes and is dry to the touch in a couple hours. Resealing once or twice in the first couple of years will completely seal the Douglas-Fir to its new local environment and keep it looking beautiful for many years. If resealing is not your thing, we recommend the Redwood grades as your best option. See Finish Options & Furniture Care for more on how to keep your furniture or structure looking new and lasting decades.

Wood Samples: If you’d like to experience the quality of our wood before placing a furniture order —or if you’d like to see first-hand the difference between our five grades of wood— we offer a set of wood samples. For $21 we’ll expedite your samples anywhere in the U.S. or Canada (includes HI and AK).

Restoration Forestry

Old-Growth Again practices restoration forestry. Restoration forestry severely limits timber harvesting so the forest will mature to old-growth again. Restoration forestry is a gentle approach that truly protects and restores forestland in stark contrast to the standards of industrial forestry. Restoration forestry is true conservation forestry with much higher standards than the “sustainable forestry” practices now in widespread use. To learn more about our forestry practices.

Color Options

The photos above are good color and grain examples of our five wood grades. Please click here for more information on our finishes and color options .

Wood Quantity Matters

Our Forever Redwood Furniture is built to last for decades without maintenance. The secret is in the wood. Although many furniture outlets advertise as "heavy-duty" or "made to last," you can easily separate fact from fiction by checking the weight. If a piece is light, it is made from thin wood and the odds are poor that it will last for decades in year-round weather.

Forever Redwood furniture is unique because we mill our own wood to full inch dimensions. For example, a standard 2 by 6 is actually only 1 ½” thick and 5 ¼” wide. Our full-dimension 2 by 6 is 2” thick and 6” wide with 52% more wood. The thick timber significantly increases the feel, appearance, sturdiness and durability of the furniture. For example, our Eight-Foot Picnic Table with attached benches weighs 250 pounds.

The guarantees offered by other manufacturers point out the longevity expected. Most warranties are for 1 to 5 years. Forever Redwood offers warranties of 10 to 30 years against decay (depending on the wood grade). You may invest a bit more upfront to have a Forever Redwood handcrafted piece, but you’ll save significantly over the decades by never having to replace it.

Age Matters

Wood quantity and resistance to decay increases as a tree ages. Because of over-logging, almost all wood available today is from young trees. Although a few other tree species also have excellent resistance to weather, the reputation of wood to resist decay was established in decades past when old-growth (over 200 year-old trees) was plentiful. Compared to old-growth, young wood has less resistance because it takes centuries of slow growth to develop great decay resistance.

Splinters?

Forever Redwood products will never splinter. They may develop a light crack after a few years out in the weather, but never a splinter.

The secret to avoiding splinters is always to follow these 5 steps:

  1. Use dry lumber only. Wet lumber cracks aggressively when it dries and it begins the splintering process.
  2. Use vertical grain lumber on the most exposed surfaces. Vertical grain lumber cannot splinter because of the angle that it is cut.
  3. Sand to a smooth to the touch finish with all the leading edges rounded. We sand all our items to 220 grit and round all the edges of the boards.
  4. Seal the finished wood with the best sealant on the market. We hand rub 3 coats of the Sikkens Brand of finishes. We believe Sikkens is the best sealant for outdoor wood products based on our 20 years of experience.
  5. Use dimensionally stable high quality lumber. Redwood is the most decay resistant wood that grows naturally in N. America. And it is the very stable dimensionally (rarely warps, sags or twists).

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