Care: Why Is My Wooden Outdoor Furniture Cracking?

Concerned about small cracks appearing in your wooden outdoor furniture? Don’t worry, chances are this is simply seasonal checking, which is a perfectly normal process for wood!

Wood is hygroscopic, which means it acts like a sponge — able to absorb, store, and release water. When trees are freshly cut, up to 50% of their weight is water. Therefore, before the wood can be crafted into furniture, fencing or framing, it must be dried until it reaches an optimum moisture content (MC) level.

As outdoor furniture is exposed to the full force of nature, the moisture content within the wood naturally changes. As relative humidity (RH) levels in the environment increase, the wood will release water causing it to shrink. As humidity levels drop, the wood will retain water causing it to expand. As a living, biological product it essentially it balances itself with the environment — technically called Equilibrium Moisture Content (EMC) — one of nature’s many wonders!

It is during this process, that checking can occur. As the wood expands and contracts, small cracks or splits may appear in the surface of the wood. This seasonal checking is most likely to occur during transitions between seasons as the weather patterns and humidity levels change, and the wood responds to its environment.

Rest assured, this is a natural process and does not affect the structural integrity of your furniture! And the good news is, many of these seasonal cracks or checks will close up over time.

[Image | Checking the moisture content in our factory]


We choose to craft our outdoor furniture from teak, due to it’s high oil content. Teak contains a lot of natural oil, so compared to other wood, it is less likely to absorb moisture from the air, reducing the risk of it splitting or cracking. This is why boat builders have been using teak for centuries! Read our Guide on Why Teak Is The Best Timber For Outdoor Furniture for more information.

Checking is part of the intrinsic beauty of a natural product, and why we’ve enjoyed crafting wooden outdoor furniture for New Zealand’s outdoors since 1976. Explore our Journal for more information about caring for your outdoor furniture.

[Image | Teak logs air-drying at our factory in Indonesia, prior to being crafted into furniture]