Green oak for outdoor furniture: еssential tips, techniques and ideas

Green oak has been widely used for centuries due to its versatility and numerous benefits. Whether for construction purposes (joinery or framing) or green oak outdoor furniture, it’s suitable for a variety of outdoor and indoor projects.

PRO TIP: What is green oak?

‘Green oak’ means oak used before it has seasoned and contains more than 30% moisture, sometimes up to 60% or more. In contrast, air-dried oak has a moisture content of 20-30%, while kiln-dried oak has 8–10%. ‘Green’ refers to how fresh the oak is, not its colour.

Advantages of green oak

Most of all, green oak is known for its durability. It’s very resistant to wear and water thanks to its density, while the tannins contained in the wood protect it from fungi, rot, bacteria, and insects. It’s well-suited for the UK climate. 

Additionally, green oak is aesthetically appealing. Its warm hues and tight grain give it a distinct appearance. Many people also favour the wood's natural aging, which gives oak a silver-grey colour when used outdoors or a honeyed look indoors.

Furthermore, green oak is very environmentally friendly. When sustainably sourced, it can be carbon neutral. Green oak doesn’t need any treatment, which means no polluting fumes or chemical by-products. Kiln-drying in itself uses a lot of energy too. At the same time, using oak for insulation helps homeowners conserve energy.

In terms of cost, green oak can be more affordable than its seasoned counterpart. The time, energy, labour, or chemicals involved in drying all drive up the price.

Finally, green oak is far easier to cut and shape compared to dried oak which is harder and requires industrial machinery.

Working with Green Oak

There are several aspects to keep in mind when handling green oak to ensure you’re using the proper know-how and taking the necessary precautions.

Cutting and shaping

Green oak is generally cut best with a circular saw or chainsaw. Using sharp tools (chisels, planes, etc.) is very important when manually cutting or shaving. Ensure your tool attachments are not blunt, otherwise you risk burning the wood, leaving undesirable marks. Always clean and dry your tools after use to prevent corrosion.

For those who wish to avoid cutting their timber themselves, we offer cross cuts using an advanced cutting machine with a pendulum blade, producing clean and precise cuts.


Historically, builders used mortise and tenon joints or wooden pegs for oak.  Nowadays, it’s common to rely on metal fastenings. However, note that you should avoid iron-based metals. The tannins in oak can react with the iron, causing dark staining. Brass, aluminium, copper, or stainless steel are all suitable options.

It’s best to steer away from glue when joining green oak, but if you must use glue, Polyurethane is the way to go.

As green oak air-dries over time, it will shrink, mostly across the width of the grain. That makes it unsuitable for door or window frames, but ideal for oak frames, roof trusses, beams, and posts. For those asking ‘Can I use green oak for furniture?’: if the design process takes advantage of the natural shrinking and employs it in the jointing methods, drying can tighten the joints and improve the overall strength.

You can find more tips in our article dedicated to building with oak railway sleepers.


Don’t forget to allow for shrinkage as the wood dries. For example, you may provide oversize holes to allow for shrinkage between the screw fixings or add washers under the screw heads. 

When using green oak for larger outdoor projects, you can also follow some additional best practices, such as:

  • - Provide ventilation around all timber, as well as a ventilated cavity behind all external cladding.
  • Protect the tops of exposed vertical or horizontal beams.
  • - If possible, raise the bottom side of external columns above ground level to protect them from moisture.


As with all building materials, it’s crucial to select high-quality timber in order to fully enjoy the benefits of green oak. Choose a well-established supplier that offers products from guaranteed sources. If you’re building green oak outdoor furniture for children, untreated timber that is safe for them to touch is your best option.

All of Luxury Wood’s green oak products are premium, responsibly sourced, and delivered with a crane-equipped vehicle for convenience.


Sand-blasting, heavy sanding, or treating with oxalic acid can be used to remove black marks on the surface of the oak. These may have appeared if the timber was exposed to water before or during installation or assembly. Note that these processes require gloves, face, and eye protection, as well as shielding adjacent surfaces.

Maintenance and care

Below you will find some ideas and recommendations on how to maintain your furniture and protect it from the elements.

As mentioned above, due to its natural durability, green oak doesn’t need any treatment to exhibit its special properties. It’s not necessary to apply preservatives. Wood is naturally breathable, allowing moisture to pass through, which is one of the advantages of using green oak for outdoor furniture.

The UV rays in the sun will, however, change the wood’s appearance over time. If you want to prevent the wood from turning silver, you can apply a coat of clear wood preservatives, followed by two coats of protective oil / liquid wax. Note that weather erodes the treatment, so you need to reapply it every 6 months.

For indoor furniture or beams that are regularly exposed to strong sunlight, you may apply the same techniques. We should note that clear coatings can be not completely clear so they may bring out the natural colours of the oak, darkenining it a little. Otherwise, oak ages gracefully and looks better over time, gaining a warm, golden look.

Project Ideas

Oak furniture has a timeless appeal, blending in with both modern and traditional interiors and exteriors. Here are some examples of successful projects:

  • - Staircases - combine elegance and durability to create a beautiful green oak outdoor staircase.
  • - Benches - enhance your space with a beautiful oak bench from oak sleepers for dining, relaxing, or extra storage.
  • Tables - from intimate outdoor dining to larger gatherings, dine outside with style.
  • - Planters and raised beds - grow fruits, veggies, and flowers in containers made from natural materials.
  • - Cold frame - make gardening easy year-round and grow fresh vegetables regardless of what surprises British weather may bring;
  • Trellis - showcase your vines and add a special touch to your landscape design.
  • Playhouse, sandpit, or open-air theatreChildren will be delighted with any of these additions to your garden.



Image source: Funky Chunky Furniture Ltd from

Raised Bed:

raised bed

Image source: anestat6 from

Cold Frame:

cold frame

Image source:



Image source:


playhouse sandpit

Image source:

Inspiration and Creativity

Unleash your creative potential by making each design your own. Using green oak for outdoor furniture, you can adapt the ideas we’ve shared based on your skill level and incorporate them into your outdoor space.

There are plenty of sources of inspiration for your next woodworking project, for example:

  • Pinterest: from coffee tables and chaise longue, to plant stands and firewood racks, there is a multitude of DIY ideas.

  • - Build your own table and bench using oak sleepers and green oak beams.

  • - You can also upcycle or renovate existing furniture to breathe new life into it.

We hope these tips and ideas will help you find the best oak timber and learn the intricacies of working with it to create outstanding green oak outdoor furniture for your home and garden.