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Hardwood flooring is usually thought of as purely an indoors adventure. Decks and patios are made with wooden floors but that wood is often a treated softwood. In fact, hardwood is often thought to be so finicky that you don’t even want to use it in high moisture environments such as the kitchen or the bathroom. If you’ve been following hardwood flooring trends for a while, you know that hardwood in the kitchen and bathroom is growing in prevalence. You can also find examples of hardwood being used outside. Using hardwood outside involves two basic considerations: the type of wood and how it is treated.

The Type of Wood

Some types of wood are better suited for outdoor use than others. The dangers to outdoor hardwood are moisture, heat, and bugs. Moisture will cause the wood to swell and warp as well as inviting different types of pests. Heat will cause the wood to dry out. That can make it crack or warp. Finally, bugs might try to eat the wood or nest in the wood. Some types of wood, especially exotic hardwoods, are so dense that they can be used outdoors without much modification.

Teak is a classic example. It is a very dense hardwood that has natural anti-microbial properties. Its water resistance is why it has been used for hundreds of years to build ships. Ipe, mahogany, and ironwood are other examples of imported woods that are dense, hard, and water-resistant.

If you want a domestic wood, you should look for the densest species of hardwood you can find. Also, you should keep in mind the color of the wood. Darker woods will absorb more heat; that means they can get very hot on a hot day.

Treating the Wood

Hardwood can be treated for outdoor use in several different ways. It can be treated with just coats of polyurethane or some other kind of finish. If you go this route, it could be in your interest to choose an outdoor polyurethane. They’re generally thicker and harder than those used for indoors. You can also choose a treated hardwood.

Typically, treated woods are treated with a solution of arsenic, copper, and chromium. Each company has its own proprietary blend. The arsenic protects against insects such as termites and borers. The copper protects against rot and mildew. The chromium usually binds the solution together.

If you choose a dense wood and treat it properly, it can make an incredible hardwood floor for an outdoor application.