Eucalyptus wood is a hardwood suitable for outdoor furniture and other exterior applications. However, there are gains and losses when using it, which I will discuss below.
I’ve looked into eucalyptus wood’s disadvantages and discovered relevant and practical solutions for outdoor use. Keep reading to know more!
Top 10 Drawbacks of Eucalyptus Wood
#1: Can’t withstand extreme temperatures
Eucalyptus wood contains oil that can withstand the snow during winter, but exposure to cold temperatures causes the wood to lose and crack. Although you have sealed your wood properly, there is no assurance that it won’t break over time.
Some of the eucalyptus wood furniture developed cracked on the ends even though they’re sealed professionally.
So to protect your wood from breaking, I recommend moving your furniture inside your house or placing it in storage at an average temperature until the winter or snow ends.
Snow and cold are two different things for this wood because eucalyptus can naturally tolerate water but not extreme cold temperatures.
Therefore, this explains why this wood cracks during cold weather and not in rainy seasons or there’s an increase of moisture surrounding it. Believe me, once it cracks, it will be challenging to restore. You must apply fillers or putty to your wood crack and stain it.
#2: Prone to Insect and pest infestations
Eucalyptus trees have rich oil, which insects and pests are drawn to, and in two weeks’ time, they can lay eggs under the bark of the tree damaging the wood’s fiber over time.
There could be early signs of fungi and mold from the infestations of these insects and pests in eucalyptus furniture. Or, you might encounter some sugary and sticky substances behind the bark, which the following insects and pests cause:
Beetles are the common pests in eucalyptus furniture that damage it heavily. The borer long-horned beetles resided beneath the wood surface to lay eggs that destroyed the wood over time.
Psyllids are insects that release and leave sticky, sugary substances, which should be removed when spotted because these substances are where mold and fungi thrive.
The tunnels on your eucalyptus wood are caused by the larval of insects. The tunnels served as a temporary habitat for the insects during the larvae stage.
Eucalyptus wood naturally attracts insects and pests, so seal the wood, especially the edges, and end-cuts, to prevent attacks and damage in the wood. If sealed properly, the wood will have an impenetrable barrier from infestations.
#3: Can crack when exposed to extreme temperatures
Extreme temperature affects the wood’s composition, making it expand, shrink, break, or crack. This wood’s dramatic warping and breaking could be lessened if the eucalyptus wood has been sealed or appropriately treated.
Excessive rain and moisture expand the wood, resulting in wood deformation. But you can prepare your eucalyptus furniture during these extreme environmental conditions by sealing the wood. All weather sealants offer additional durability and resistance.
Also, you should look for alternate lumber for outdoor use in an area where weather conditions change drastically because eucalyptus wood is sensitive to extreme temperatures.
#4: Not as Long-Lasting as Teak Wood
It is a wise and practical choice to use eucalyptus in your outdoor furniture because, in woodworking, this wood is considered to be valuable, even if it’s cheaper than teak wood.
But, since eucalyptus wood is less durable than teak, you should replace the eucalyptus furniture parts more frequently. If you can afford the teak wood, consider it rather than replacing your furniture now and then.
#5: Excessive expansions and contractions impact negatively on the wood
Another disadvantage of eucalyptus wood is its susceptibility to humid levels. Extreme humidity affects eucalyptus wood to expand and contract negatively or move irregularly. The irregular movement resulted in breaking and losing its balance and firmness.
Eucalyptus furniture is prone to deformation during the summer and winter seasons. It is during these seasons that humidity levels change rapidly and extremely, but the wood fiber does not swell and shrinks at the same time with the same speed.
Humidity levels during summer are high, creating more moisture in the air that penetrates and distorts the humidity levels inside the wood. As long as the wood has high moisture content levels, it will expand and swell.
On the flip side, winter brings less humidity in the surroundings making the moisture content of the wood evaporate to balance the humidity levels in the area. As the moisture concentration inside the wood decreases, the wood starts to contract and shrink.
The shape of eucalyptus wood can be altered under varying humidity conditions, resulting in twisting, cupping, warping, or bending.
Therefore, you can keep your eucalyptus wood in perfect form by applying a sealer or finishing to prevent air penetration into the wood.
Properly sealing or applying all-weather stains helps to extend the lifespan of eucalyptus furniture.
#6: Eucalyptus wood hues change over time
One of the characteristics of eucalyptus why it has been considered for furniture use is because of the reddish-brown color that offers a classic semblance. However, the color of untreated eucalyptus wood fades if exposed to sunlight over time.
The natural oil of eucalyptus does keep the color of your eucalyptus. Still, the natural aging process, which is inevitable, contributes to the gradual change of color of the eucalyptus into a silver patina.
On a side note, the change in color of your wood does not mean it is starting to decay or rot. You can keep the greyish shade for your furniture or stain your wood for a lustrous look.
Therefore, you should apply a proper sealant to protect your wood from UV radiation and harmful environmental elements, extending the reddish-brown color.
#7: Can be expensive
Eucalyptus is not the cheapest wood, and it costs around 20% higher than Bamboo, Birch, Poplar, or Alder wood in the local stores. But it has a reasonable price for outdoor furniture compared to teak, Hickory, Cherry, and Mahogany wood.
The price of eucalyptus depends on its supply in the market, but since this wood is not abundant, it can be expensive. However, despite being a little pricey, I know a lot of woodworkers and homeowners that prefer this wood for outdoor use.
You might need some time to look for the style you desire, but once you find the perfect eucalyptus lumber for your outdoor furniture, you can be sure that you got high-quality and budget-friendly furniture.
#8: Less supply
Although eucalyptus trees are abundant and fast-growing, the supplies in the local markets are lesser than other popular hardwoods. Chances are, you need to look for it on the internet and look for retailers offering eucalyptus wood.
There is no doubt about the convenience of using online stores, but when it comes to searching for your wood for outdoor use, it is more challenging than going to an actual local home improvement store.
The guarantee of the color and style you are looking for can be compromised because in choosing wood, to see is to believe with your naked eye.
However, verified online stores offer great deals on eucalyptus wood, including the color, style, sizes, and dimensions. Ensure to go to reputable websites for your online purchase.
#9: Regular maintenance required
Unlike other hardwoods, eucalyptus requires regular maintenance for many good reasons. As mentioned, staining and sealing your wood helps the wood to be impenetrable against insects and pests.
Therefore, applying a sealant once a year offers a protective layer for your wood against extreme temperatures and weather conditions. Use teak oil and give a white wash finish to your eucalyptus furniture.
A white wash finish is the easiest way to give outdoor furniture a classic and elegant look. The unique appearance of this finish is made of diluted paint, which also helps your wood delay the aging process.
And here’s my pro tip: teak oil. It not only adds a rich, lustrous finish, but it also acts as a natural preservative. Trust me, during those hot summer months, you’ll be glad you used it. It provides excellent protection against the elements.
Teak oil can be used to clean your wood, but this oil finish offers maximum protection, particularly in spring and summer. Ensure that when applying this oil, keep your wood under a shade for at least an hour before exposing it to sunlight.
Here are the sealants and finishes you can apply to your furniture and other outdoor applications:
But before applying sealants, you must clean the surface using a clean, lint-free cloth and water. Ensure to remove the dirt, grease, and dust on the surface.
The marks from accumulated impurities give your wood an unpleasant semblance and regularly check for moles and fungi thriving at the corners and small areas of your furniture. These factors cause your wood to decay or rot if left unchecked gradually.
As regular maintenance, you should invest in protective materials for your wood, such as rubber caps for the bottom part of your tables and chairs and covers made of synthetic materials  with adjustable fasteners and straps.
#10: Some people are allergic to eucalyptus wood
Untreated eucalyptus wood produces natural oil that can be toxic to some people. Oils such as tea tree oil have the same properties as eucalyptus oil, so avoid nearing eucalyptus wood as a precaution.
Other health conditions caused during exposure to eucalyptus wood are asthma and bronchitis because of the sawdust while woodworking. Use a vacuum or dust collector to prevent dust particles from roaming your workspace.
According to medical reports, eucalyptus bark and leaves are poisonous or toxic since exposure to a large amount of inducing too much from the recommended amount can cause dermatitis, burning, or skin redness.
Other symptoms are dizziness and a feeling of suffocation.
Therefore, ensure that your wood has been treated with stain to keep the oil within and prevent any dust particles from coming out. Also, you should keep the concentrated eucalyptus oils out of reach of your children.
Advantages of Eucalyptus Wood
With all the eucalyptus wood’s disadvantages, there are many reasons why this wood is ideal for wood furniture, such as its vibrant color of red and proper sealing.
Eucalyptus furniture has an aesthetic appearance, making it ideal for your patio and any spacious outdoor area.
Many people use eucalyptus wood as beams, trellises, beams, and floorings because of its durability and versatility.
Other uses of eucalyptus are found to be related to medicinal purposes aside from industrial use. According to medical research, eucalyptus is effective as an antimicrobial, antibiotic, and an essential ingredient in some ointments.
But to be effective, the oil of eucalyptus should be used in small amounts. There are suggested quantity to fight bacteria that causes nose congestion, tooth decay, and sore throats.
Eucalyptus has been effective for insecticides and repellants since 1948.
After the disadvantages, here are the top reasons you should have it for outdoor use:
Eucalyptus wood has 1,025 Janka hardness which proves that this wood is dense and robust, and lightweight. Wood is wood, so it naturally reacts if exposed to extreme environmental conditions over time.
With its durability, this wood is the top choice as it is considered tougher than any hardwood like teak.
The outcome is similar, including the gloss of the untreated wood. The only difference is eucalyptus is cheaper than teak.
Resistant to decay and rot
The eucalyptus oil serves as a natural insect repellant and pesticide, which causes the wood to rot inside. It contains high oil, which maintains the natural moisture of the wood and, at the same time, repels water and moisture from penetrating the wood.
Eucalyptus wood is native to Australia, with 77% of their forests mostly planted with eucalyptus trees. It grows 30% faster than other wood species because the Australian forests offer suitable climates, water sources, and soil quality.
Each tree grows 16 feet per year; therefore, eucalyptus plantation provides the needs of wood manufacturers. The trees were harvested once they reached the maturity age of 6 years.
After the harvest, they replace the trees, and with the fast-growing rate of this tree, there are no questions about deforestation.
But to ensure you buy the wood from a sustainable forest or well-managed plantation, look for the FSC or Forest Stewardship Council certification.
Resistant to sunlight
Sun exposure cause the discoloration of eucalyptus wood, but it won’t make your wood crack or become brittle. The abundant oil of eucalyptus makes it susceptible to becoming too dry because it helps maintain the wood moisture.
Most wood needs to be resealed or applied stain regularly, but eucalyptus wood furniture needs only wiping regularly to keep off the dust and prevent dirt accumulation.
Removing the dirt and debris from your surface increases the lifespan of the wood and maintains the natural color of your wood. Apply wood oil like linseed, tung, or teak oil to prevent discoloration.
The rich oil of eucalyptus creates high moisture and oil content, making the wood lasts up to 25 years. But the natural oil is not enough to make the wood durable, considering outdoor furniture is prone to wear and tear.
Therefore, to prolong the lifespan of your eucalyptus wood, use a high-quality sealant to give your wood excellent protection from harmful elements.
Most woodworkers choose eucalyptus wood because of its rich natural color. Eucalyptus wood has a reddish-brown color as it ages, and you can enhance this color using colorless stain. The stain penetrates the wood. Therefore it increases the denseness of the wood fiber.
Maintaining the color using sealant and occasionally applying oil keeps your wood in good condition. The greying or fading of its color won’t be your problem, but you still have to cover your eucalyptus wood during the winter.
Smooth grain pattern
Eucalyptus wood is not porous, so you will definitely get a medium texture with open pores in small or medium sizes.
The trees seldom have irregular patterns and knots; therefore, when you encounter such patterns and knots, this means the eucalyptus wood came from the wild and has no FSC certification.
The surface of untreated lumber is almost smooth with a light grain pattern; you will notice it is softer than other hardwood. But this wood is still sturdy and can resist decay, insects, pests, and other damaging factors.
What Is The Lifespan of Eucalyptus Wood?
Your eucalyptus wood should have a 25 years lifespan if you properly maintain it using stain, sealant, and oiling it regularly. This wood has many characteristics that make it ideal for outdoor use.
Eucalyptus can withstand pest and insect infestation and penetration of moisture and water. I sometimes use this for wood projects such as cabinets, doors, and floorings require resiliency and durability.
The natural oils only repel the insects and water, slowing its decay and making it exceptionally rot-resistant. Although it offers abundant natural oil, this wood contains minimal mineral content making it prone to splitting and warping.
Therefore, to reach the maximum lifespan of this wood, ensure to stain and seal your furniture and regularly apply oil to keep the naturally rich color of the wood. Otherwise, expect your eucalyptus wood to last only three years.
Is Eucalyptus Wood Prone to Cracking?
Eucalyptus wood is prone to cracking because of the humidity levels that surround it. The combination of moisture and temperature caused the wood to swell and shrink, which results in warping, splitting, breaking, and cracking.
If this wood is mishandled, it will begin to split. Also, if the wood has been dried too much or below the 9% moisture content level, it will start to crack.
Therefore, to prevent wood splitting and cracking, ensure your wood is stored in an average temperature storage and well-ventilated. Proper storage and drying of your wood prevent damage such as splitting and warping.
However, if this is inevitable, you can use wood filler or putty to fill in the cracks in your wood. You can also apply chemicals on the ends of the lumber to prevent moisture, water, and air from entering the wood fibers.
What Are The Common Uses of Eucalyptus Wood?
The versatility of eucalyptus wood has been proven in making pallets, veneers, fence posts, railroad ties, flooring, musical instruments, cabinetry, turnings, and interior millwork.
There are endless possibilities in using eucalyptus wood, but ensure to seal and stain it using high-quality products to have the best results of this wood.
Is Eucalyptus Wood Susceptible to Termites?
Termites love wood, and eucalyptus is wood. Therefore, there is no escaping from termite infestation, and eucalyptus’s natural oil does not entirely prevent termites. In some parts of Northern Australia, termites attacked more than 80% of the trees.
Yes, eucalyptus wood is susceptible to termites, and once the wood has been infested, it is challenging to remove.
Since eucalyptus wood contains only a few cellulose contents to feed the termites, you can still manage to ward off the termites. You can apply to treat your wood using chemicals for termites to ensure no infestation will occur.
Is Eucalyptus Wood Environmentally Friendly?
Eucalyptus is wood environmentally friendly because it is a sustainable wood. The carbon sequestration, high adaptability, and regeneration make this wood sustainable and, thus, eco-friendly.
Carbon sequestration is when the eucalyptus trees absolve CO2 as they grow while releasing oxygen. They serve as the carbon sink as long as they live. According to scientific studies, eucalyptus trees have more than 200 years of lifespan.
Eucalyptus trees transform into a carbon sink because they take greenhouse gasses and convert them to oxygen before releasing them into the atmosphere, mitigating the climate crisis.
When You Should Not Use Eucalyptus Wood?
You should not use eucalyptus wood in extreme cold weather conditions because the cold temperature makes the wood fibers break and lose.
Once the wood fibers loosen, the wood begins to split and crack. But using sealant can protect your wood from damage caused by extreme weather and environmental conditions.
See Next: Sapele Wood’s Disadvantages
Using my practical and relevant solutions on eucalyptus wood’s disadvantages, you can use this specie for outdoor furniture. Proper sealing and regular oiling of the wood surface maintain the natural rich color of the wood and prevent the wood from splitting, shrinking, and swelling.
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