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Cherry - rot resistant?

RDNZL's picture

Greetings, Knotheads

As some of you may know, I work in the woodshop of a New England ski resort. I recently received a mailing from an outfit in SW NY selling solid cherry "resort furniture" - Adirondack chairs, tables, etc.

I have frequently been called upon to repair (or often scrap) the stuff that we have on hand, both the rustic M&T cedar log type and the wood-slatted-cast iron base type of outdoor furniture. Both are junk, as delivered from the factory, and only marginally better after they leave my shop. There is only so much one can do, after all. Therefore I actually read the mailing.

These folks claim, with accompanying testimonial, that cherry, among other things that make it desirable for this use, is "equally as rot resistant as cedar or cyprus"

I have, when harvesting firewood, found standing deadwood cherry that had sapwood so rotted that you could pull it off in handfuls, yet the heartwood was still perfectly sound, so maybe, if no sapwood is utilized, yet the promotional photo clearly shows sapwood on the chair.......

To give them credit, they are prefinishing all parts (type of finish is unspecified) using SS fasteners, and plugging screw holes. They claim the stuff is "constructed in a Marine style", so maybe the finish is an epoxy type. One could certainly verify this.

Yet.......I'm skeptical. How about you? I'm particularly interested in opinions/experience with the rot resistant claim.

BTW, yes I could easily do the same thing in my shop, but don't believe I could match their's this economy of scale thing.......their price per chair is actually pretty reasonable, with volume discounts available.

So whaddya think? At the least, one would think that repairs would be more gratifying!

joinerswork's picture

RD, Hoadley's book (post #149831, reply #1 of 7)


Hoadley's book Understanding Wood, has cherry in his list of decay resistant woods.  I also have a reprint from a forest dept book that shows the same list.

My experience is the same as yours, however regarding sapwood.  I was just bringing some cherry firewood up from my woods yesterday, and the sap in that is pretty well on the way to rot, after laying on the ground all wiinter.


JerryPacMan's picture

The link below also states (post #149831, reply #2 of 7)

The link below also states that cherry is on par with cedar rot resistance.



Life is what happens to you when you're making other plans.

When your ship comes in... make sure you are not at the airport.

SgianDubh's picture

I find the claim that cherry (post #149831, reply #3 of 7)

I find the claim that cherry is "equally as rot resistant as cedar or cyprus" rather interesting and I suspect it's driven largely by marketing hyperbole. It's not noted as "durable", and is classified as "moderately durable" by William A Lincoln (1986, p 72) World Woods in Colour, Stobart Davies Ltd. This classification matches my own experience of cherry wood types used outdoors. 

A very durable classification means 25 years or more lifespan in exterior soil contact locations, and moderately durable wood should last 10-15 years. For the record, western red cedar (Thuja plicata) is classified  "durable", and  cypress (Cupressus lindeyi) is described as having "a  high resistance to insect and fungal attack" (Lincoln, 1986, pp 282 and 85). Slainte.

HowardAcheson's picture

Richard, as a one time (post #149831, reply #4 of 7)

Richard, as a one time resident, you may already by familier with the below referenced publication.  You and others may be  interested in reading the source for all the "rot resistant" info on various woods.  The genesis is the Wood Handbook published by the USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory. (see page 18, table 3-10)

Of course, there are a number of factors that will determine the actual longevity of wood .  There is quite a lot of variation to be expected even within specific species.

SgianDubh's picture

Howard, I have a copy of the (post #149831, reply #5 of 7)

Howard, I have a copy of the Wood Handbook. It's one of the resources I use for comparing and verifying information. I find it interesting that the Wood Handbook doesn't give a typical expected life expectancy of woods exposed to exterior conditions whereas Lincloln does. Slainte.

RDNZL's picture

Something new every day.... (post #149831, reply #6 of 7)

Interesting replies. I had never (until just recently) condidered cherry as a viable outdoor alternative. Still not sure I do, but this info has opened my eyes a bit.

I can't  use the FPL link - takes too long to load at dial-up speeds. The Plow and Hearth link smells like the original mailing - to quote Richard "driven largely by marketing hyperbole"

FWIW, I have been to the originally referenced manufacturer's website, and the finish they are using is a Sikkins product. Probably more easily maintained than an epoxi type.

Re; the A Lincoln durability classifications - I note that it refers to direct soil contact. One can assume that if the furniture is primarily sitting on a wood deck or stone/asphalt/concrete patio or apron that durability would increase somewhat. Of course, in our situation, long term contact with snow would have to be factored in.

I do think I will pass the info I received on to The GM of our newest and most upscale facility. It would be he who would make any buying decisions.

Thanks for the interest.

Speth27's picture

Decay Resistance (post #149831, reply #7 of 7)

All of the woods you listed, Redwood, Cyprus, and Cherry, are only decay resistant when using the heartwood. The sapwood of any of these species is not sutible for use where decay resistance is needed.