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Are wood benches the solution to your street furniture needs?

July 26, 2023

It’s a question everyone is asking. 

And by everyone, we mean us. We’ve set our own question. Our own little endeavour.  

Why?

We’ve scouted the web and found that plenty of you are interested in wooden benches. And we don’t blame you. 

So we wanted to do a big favour for you…

To give you everything you need to know about buying a wooden bench, we need to ask the mother of all questions.

And with our expertise in street furniture, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s get started.

What is street furniture?

Now, I don’t know about you, but before I was introduced to the world of street furniture, I pictured this term in my head as sofas scattered around public outdoor areas.

Don’t laugh. At least I’m being honest.

Whether it’s planters, wooden benches or cycle racks, it’s street furniture.

But it’s much more than that. Outdoor furniture is able to completely transform your garden, park and town.

And don’t just take our word for it…

A fine bench, courtesy of Mike Bird at Pexels

How street furniture is important

BuildingTalk agrees that, when outdoor furniture is present, it can help bring local communities together, keep them safe and improve the overall vibe of the area.

But Furnitubes cover something in their blog you may not have even thought about.

The preference to shop online is growing. That means fewer people are willing to visit their nearest town to do their shopping.

As a result, towns are suffering.

They’re under pressure to bring people back in. They need to think of original, unique ways to stun their visitors.

And if you’re a local authority reading this, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Why benches can make your town or park busy again

No, we don’t think that wood benches alone are enough to fully satisfy visitors.

You need variety. You need to throw other items into the mix, too. Whether that’s abstract planters, trendy bollards, or a matching bin or two, the choice is yours.

But having a park or town with little to no benches? You’re stabbing yourself in the foot, my friend.

I’m going to get a bit philosophical here…

Benches aren’t just a ‘place to sit’. They’re a solution for the modern, phone-browsing man or hiking adventurer.

They’re a place to take refuge, enjoy your favourite snack or stay awhile and watch the world go by.

It’s these little pieces that contribute to a more enjoyable experience. Something that local authorities should be striving for.

What’s more, studies show that people re-kindled their love for the outdoors post-lockdown. So now is the perfect time to take action.

Pexels by Zino Bang

So now we’ve set the scene, what about wood benches?

What wood is best for a bench?

Wood benches are a popular choice because wood isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ kind of thing. This means each type of wood has its own benefits.

So if you’re wondering ‘what is the best wood for garden benches’, here’s a quick overview of popular woods and the benefits you may find for an outdoor bench:

  • Ipe – Found in South America, this wood is resistant to fire, water damage and insect-caused rotting. It can also withstand extreme heat temperatures, too.
  • Garapa – This wood is known for its beauty and durability. It’s also more affordable compared to ipe wood. Minimal maintenance is needed to keep this wood looking healthy.
  • Iroko – Like garapa, iroko wood is a real eye-catcher. Discovered in Africa, this wood contains natural oils that deter away insects from damaging the wood. It’s also known for its high strength and durability.
  • Tigerwood – This wood has plenty of resistance properties. Scratch resistance is the big one, and for benches sporting this sleek wood in busy areas, it’s a big deal.
  • Cumaru – Price-friendly compared to other woods, this wood is great if you’re not looking for high-maintenance wood – you can thank its durability for that.
  • Massaranduba – The texture of this wood offers great slip resistance. Able to hold its own against nature’s wrath, this material provides great longevity.
  • Hardwood – Extracted from dicot trees you often find in tropical forests, hardwood offers fantastic finishes with extremely reliable weather-resistant properties.

But if you want the Wybone opinion, we think that hardwood is the best type of wood to use for a wooden bench.

Not only is this a shared opinion you can find on the web, but it’s also been the type of wood we’ve used for our benches for years.

So we’ve been able to see first-hand just how great ­this style of wood is.

But did you notice the similarities across each type of wood from that list? They’re subtly different in their own ways, but they all have durable and aesthetically-beautiful features.

Two key components to what people are looking for in a bench.

Iroko hardwood: the seat of our Heritage Picnic Table 

Wood benches vs metal benches

I’ve seen this question get asked a lot online. But let’s rephrase the heading to wood benches vs steel benches for clarity.

I’ve briefly touched on some benefits of different types of wood. Splendid.

But that doesn’t stop you from comparing wooden benches to other types out there.

So we’ve compared wood and steel benches against features that will matter to you:

What are the advantages of wooden benches?
  • They look visually better. Subjective, I know. But each wood offers its slick design with a consistent natural look you just can’t find in steel products. Even TwoThirstyGardeners agree!
  • Arguably more comfortable
  • More affordable, depending on the type of wood
  • Despite steel being stronger, wood can still hold its own in the durability department
  • Wooden benches are comfier to sit on. Steel benches can feel cold to sit on, especially in the winter
What are the disadvantages of wooden benches?
  • More high maintenance compared to steel benches. But if you keep on top of it, you’ll have a great-looking bench. So, is it really a con?
  • Lifespan isn’t as long as a steel bench
  • Can be harder to clean, depending on how strong your scrubbing arm is
What are the advantages of steel benches?
  • Require less maintenance compared to wooden benches
  • Long lifespan
  • Usually easier to clean
  • Their heavy weight makes them sturdy
What are the disadvantages of steel benches?
  • Don’t offer the same visual appeal compared to wooden benches
  • Steel is generally more expensive than wood
  • Can be prone to rust
  • Steel benches can give you a cold…behind in frosty weather
Okay. Let's give your brain a rest for a minute.

Maybe you’re there.

Maybe you’re thinking, ‘Okay. Now I NEED a wooden bench.’

Or perhaps you’re on the verge of opening up a new tab on Google, ready to start browsing.

But you’re not quite there yet.

You need more information. How do I maintain it? Where do I put it? 

I bet you didn’t expect to become a wooden bench expert today, did you?

But these extra points are crucial if you want to get the most out of your unit.

How to protect a wooden bench

Despite the benefits wooden benches can provide, they need some tender loving care, too.

Especially if you want the bench to stick around.

Based on our experience, here’s how you can protect the bench you hold so dearly:

  • Place your bench in a sheltered area (if possible)
  • Make sure your bench is waterproof – Iroko wood is a popular choice for this reason!
  • Revisit your wooden unit(s) every 6 months to keep on top of any weather-related damages. It might be worth bringing some cloth to wipe off any dirt or moss build-up
  • Choose a wood that is known for being impressively durable. I listed some above.
  • For extra protection against harsh weather elements, you can also use sealants
1. Polyurethane sealant

Polyurethane is an adaptable type of plastic that is known for enhancing the durability of products in harsh environments. It’s also UV-resistant.

2. Weather-based sealants

Waterproof sealants are ideal for keeping water and dampness out of your bench, especially if any cracks are starting to form in the wood.

3. Oil-based sealants

Oil-based sealants offer great protection with fewer coats required than water-based sealants. They’re often cost-friendly, too.

You should bear in mind that sealants will require reapplication after some time. For your wooden bench, once a year would be sufficient.

Pexels by Pawel L 

Where can I put a wooden bench?

Perhaps you already know where you want it. We love a visionary!

But for the indecisive individual, you may be unsure.

Deciding where to place your wooden unit is a pretty important decision. After all, you want to make sure people see and use it.

Here are some great places you can place your wooden bench:

1. Parks

On a warm day, parks become swarmed. And if there’s enough going on, people will stay awhile.

Whether parkgoers want to have a bite to eat or a rest from all the walking, they’re going to love a place they can sit down.

Not only that, many parks across the UK strive to maintain that natural, heritage-focused look. And wooden benches are a great way to complement that.

Placing your bench along public path routes or by appealing structures is a sure-fire way of getting bottoms on seats with a happy smile.

2. Town squares

You want benches in town squares for the very same reason you want them in parks.

And the great thing about wooden benches is that they fit well in modern and historic areas.

So whichever town they’re going to, they’ll fit right in.

And for towns that already have wooden bins, it’s a great match-up!

3. Gardens

There’s nothing wrong with showing off to family, friends and neighbours with your garden furniture.

And a wooden bench can definitely have them asking, ‘Where did you get THAT from!?’ with a sparkle in their eyes.

What’s more, they look great with other wooden-styled furniture.

Rounding things off

We’ve done a deep dive into all things wooden benches. 

After all, there’s no way I could have answered the mother of all questions if I didn’t.

So… what is the answer?

The answer is a resounding yes.

Wooden benches are definitely the solution to your street furniture needs!

Wooden Wybone benches

With everything we’ve covered in this article, we feel that our wooden Wybone benches embody it all. 

From trendy, durable Iroko hardwood to galvanised steel for extra sturdiness, our wooden benches offer something unique. 

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