An excellent way to breathe new life into your backyard is to add a birdhouse. Not only does it brighten up the space, but it also helps you make friends with the creatures around you.
The best thing about birdhouses is that you can make one on your own. This leads DIYers to wonder, ‘What is the best wood for birdhouses?’
Luckily, there are many types of wood you can use to build a birdhouse, with the most common type being cedar. However, you can also use cypress, pine, Douglas fir, and redwood, just to name a few.
Each type of wood has special features that make it excellent for birdhouses. So, let’s take a look at the qualities of each type to find out which one works best for your birdhouse.
Before heading to your local lumberyard, you should become familiar with the features that make a good birdhouse. Here are just a few examples:
Birdhouses spend most of their days out in the scorching sun. Hence, since birdhouses tend to be such tight spaces, they can overheat quickly. For this reason, you need to ensure that the birdhouse has ventilation with a track for airflow.
Also, watch out for a flooded birdhouse, especially during the rainy season. So, if it rains a lot where you live, make sure it has holes on the bottom to prevent water from flooding. Otherwise, no bird will want to visit a wet birdhouse.
The construction of the birdhouse has a significant impact on the final product. There are a few different birdhouse designs you can check out.
However, no matter what design you choose, you still need to execute it flawlessly. This means all the joints must align, and the screws should rest comfortably.
Unfortunately, this is sometimes easier said than done. So, when building a birdhouse, take your time to get the construction just right.
Most people assume that once they put up a birdhouse, they can just sit back and watch the birds flit and flutter all day long. Unfortunately, they forget that birds don’t clean up after themselves.
Many birds are messy eaters and nervous flyers. This means that after a few visitors have dropped by, the birdhouse will need a good scrub down.
Thus, one of the key elements of a good birdhouse is that it should be easy to clean. You want to make sure it’s accessible enough for you to clean and maintain on a regular basis.
Besides the three factors we mentioned above, the material you use to build your birdhouse directly impacts durability and maintenance. For starters, you want to use something that can stay cool in the summer and dry during the rainy season.
Moreover, the material has to be easy to clean and maintain, as we mentioned above.
While this may seem like a balancing act, it’s actually pretty simple. The best material for this job is wood.
Yet, while there may be thousands of different tree species in the world, not all of them are suitable for this project.
Let’s dive into some types of wood that may work perfectly for your birdhouse.
If you’re looking for a low-maintenance material to build a birdhouse, cedar is the way to go.
Not only is it sturdy, but it’s also easy to work with because it can be easily shaped with simple hand tools.
Plus, it doesn’t produce unpleasant odors, and is excellent at repelling pests.
Another advantage is that cedar has amazing thermal insulation, which is crucial for any cold environment. It also doesn’t require any varnishing or finishing oil to survive outdoors.
Another key benefit of this wood is its resistance to change. No matter how fast temperatures change, cedar maintains its shape and size.
However, the wood does fade quite a bit. So, if you place your birdhouse in an area with direct sunlight, it can show signs of discoloration over time.
- Requires little maintenance
- Can repel pests
- Doesn’t produce unpleasant odors when carved
- Temperature changes don’t affect shape or size
- Color can fade over time
- Cedar can be quite expensive
One of the most popular types of wood, oakwood is a type of hardwood that can withstand a lot of wear and tear.
It’s known for its natural patterns of light brown with red and yellow swirls. So, not only is the wood durable, but it’s also incredibly stunning and calming to look at.
Still, there are other benefits to using oak to build a birdhouse. Oakwood is weather-resistant. This means you can put out your birdhouse without fear of the elements.
It also means you don’t have to varnish the house with toxic materials.
However, one of the biggest drawbacks of using oak is that it’s not exactly budget-friendly.
- Beautiful, intricate wood patterns with red and yellow hues
- No need for varnishing or finishing
- Strong and hard-wearing
- Oak is one of the most expensive types of wood
- The wood is heavy, which may make construction difficult
Redwood is one of the most versatile types of wood out there because of its low density. In addition, it has an incredibly high durability rate and a unique red pattern.
This is why it’s such a popular choice for DIYers for all sorts of projects around the house.
Still, the major advantage of using redwood in a project is its ability to withstand exposure to the elements. It can easily handle being in the sun and rain without showing signs of damage.
For this reason, redwood is perfect for birdhouses and other outdoor projects. This type of wood is also a bit more affordable than oak while maintaining most of its benefits.
However, it does get scratched easily, which means it’ll need one or two coats of varnish.
- Visually appealing red patterns
- Has natural weather resistance
- Versatile because of its low density
- Birds can scratch the surface easily
- Needs a coat or two of varnish
Another type of hardwood that’s excellent for birdhouses is beechwood. This wood is super solid and extraordinarily sturdy.
Even though it’s a type of hardwood like oak, it’s much lighter, both in color and density. Beechwood is known for its light brown shade with soft natural patterns.
Because of its low density, you can hang a beechwood birdhouse virtually anywhere.
Another great feature is its stiffness. Beechwood is stiff enough to be durable but isn’t too stiff for hand and power tools, which makes it a great choice for building birdhouses.
However, anyone that uses Beechwood knows it tends to shrink when exposed to the elements. One way to avoid this problem is to give a couple of coats of varnish. It’ll protect the wood from shrinkage and give the birdhouse a nice shine.
- A more affordable substitute for oak
- Stains well because of its light color
- Stiff enough for both hand and power tools
- The low density makes hanging much easier
- Shrinks due to changes in temperature
- Not the most aesthetically pleasing type of wood
Douglas fir is one of the most popular woods for outdoor construction. This is because it can take a lot of damage before it gives out, and it’s highly weather-resistant.
This wood is also resistant to fungi and other forms of infection, which means it won’t rot. In addition, unlike beechwood, fir doesn’t shrink.
Keep in mind that if you use Douglas fir to build your birdhouse, make sure you use the untreated type. Chemically treated fir can be toxic to the birds.
However, fir has a much coarser surface than most other woods. This makes shaping it with hand tools much more difficult and time-consuming.
Yet, you can always use power tools instead. So, if you know your way around power tools, you should have no problem.
Moreover, Douglas fir is prone to discoloration. Therefore, after a while in the sun, the wood will start to appear darker.
- Fairly affordable compared to other woods
- Durable and weather-resistant
- Doesn’t shrink with the changing weather
- Lightweight and easy to move around
- Wood is prone to discoloration
- You can’t use hand tools to carve the wood
There are a few types of plywood you can use for various DIY projects. However, phenolic resin glue plywood is the best type for a birdhouse.
This type has a resin coating that gives it many beneficial qualities. These qualities include extra durability and weather resistance.
It’s also known to have a smooth surface, making the overall product more visually appealing. Still, it may not be practical for many DIY projects because carving it can be a bit tricky.
Moreover, plywood is non-toxic, so it’s safe to use around animals and children. It also comes in many colors, so you can mix and match the color of the birdhouse to blend in nicely with your outdoor space.
Plywood is also an excellent option for temperature control. The wood provides insulation to keep the birdhouse warm during the winter.
- Highly weather-resistant
- Relatively low density makes for easy handling and transport
- Has great thermal insulation
- Comes in many bright colors
- The smooth surfaces make carving a little tricky
- Isn’t as durable as the other woods on the list
Cypress is a type of softwood that’s amazing for small woodworking projects. It’s lightweight and easy to work with.
Still, the most significant benefit of using this wood is the fact that it’s water-resistant. Cypress can repel water, which makes it ideal for wet climates.
Moreover, this resistance gives cypress immunity from fungal diseases and decay. For this reason, cypress birdhouses can last for an incredibly long time.
The problem, however, is that using power tools on this wood may not be the best idea. Even though it’s relatively strong, it can chip and break if you’re too rough with it.
Another issue with this wood is its availability. There are times during the year when stores run out of cypress, unlike most other wood types on our list that are available year-round.
In addition, cypress doesn’t perform well if it comes in contact with soil.
- Can repel water, making it rot-resistant
- Easy to carve with hand tools
- More affordable than other softwoods
- Can last for an incredibly long time
- Deteriorates fairly quickly if it comes into contact with soil
- Isn’t available year-round
If you want an intricate, ornate birdhouse, teak may be your best bet.
This is one reason why teak is highly sought-after. Another reason is that it’s one of the most durable and weather-resistant materials in nature.
Teak is a type of hardwood that has an incredibly high tensile strength. This means the wood can handle a lot of shaping and carving with ease.
Moreover, the oils produced by this type of wood make it water-resistant. This protects teakwood from all kinds of infections.
With a teak birdhouse, you can carve out a masterpiece and leave it in the sun without fear of discoloration or damage.
However, a major drawback of this wood is how pricey it can get. Teak trees are hard to grow, which means there’s a short supply, sometimes increasing the price dramatically.
- One of the most durable woods on our list
- You can carve intricate shapes into the wood
- Produces oil that protects the wood from infections
- Doesn’t change shape or size in the sun
- Can be expensive because of the short supply
- It may be difficult to find
Finding wood for your DIY projects isn’t always easy. You want to ensure you’re getting high-quality wood so your project can last as long as possible.
Based on our experience, the best way to go about sourcing wood is to find your local lumber store. They’ll usually have a nice collection of fresh wood for you to choose from.
Looking through the options is also a great way to decide on the type of wood that works best for you.
So, what is the best wood for bird houses? The most commonly used wood is cedar. Still, it’s not the only option.
You can use any of the highly durable, weather-resistant woods on our list. Almost all are user-friendly and easy to maintain.
So, set a budget, visit your local lumber store, and get to building your very own birdhouse.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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