Best Wood for Exterior Columns (6 of the Best Types)

I’m sure we all want the best kind of materials when we’re building a new house. Or when renovating an old one. But it gets difficult to pick when there are so many options to choose from!

Are you wondering what would be the best wood for exterior columns

With so many types of wood out there, it can get overwhelming to pick. While mahogany screams royalty, oak gives a more aesthetic flavor. And out of hardwoods, birch is the most affordable. Softwoods like cedar, fir & yellow pine require regular care. But still, fall at the top of their category.

All their distinguishing features are explained in detail in this article. So if you can spare a few minutes, let me make things easy for you!

Why Should You Choose Wood for Your Home’s Exterior Columns?


When we talk about exterior columns, we mainly mean porch columns. And for your front porch, there are a number of materials that people generally use.

Most common materials involve vinyl, stone, fiberglass, aluminum, and wood.

However, it’s important to pick a material that will be long-lasting. And it should look pleasing to the eye too! So here lies the question. 

Why do people prefer using wood for their exterior columns? 

There are actually a lot of reasons for this. Unlike vinyl which is mono-chromic, wood comes in a variety of colors. And you could paint it any shade you want! 

Moreover, wood columns come off as very classic and authentic. Plus, you can preserve the historical flavor of your house for generations with wood. So despite being expensive than vinyl or fiberglass, you’ll still want to invest.

Besides, on top of all, it has a long lifespan and rarely requires any maintenance. And it can actually last hundreds of years that way too! Hence, it’s important for you to select the right type of wood!

6 Best Kinds of Wood for You to Choose from!

I’ve picked out some of the best woods suitable for the exterior columns of your home! And added some details regarding them that you might be curious about. 

So skim through and have your pick!

1. Mahogany

We’ve all heard of or at least know about mahogany. It is one of the most popular hardwoods for anything wooden. So the same applies to its demand when it comes to exterior columns as well. 

It is very tolerant to water and is moisture repellent, making it very suitable for wet climates. And when it comes to how it looks, it is absolutely marvelous with its red-brown color. 

Plus, if you’d like to, you can easily paint over it too! And it also qualifies as hardwood. So you can use it for your porch posts in whichever shape you prefer.

Here are some suitable paints for your wooden columns:

However, it is important to keep in mind that it is usually in very high demand. Which makes it readily unavailable, and therefore pretty high-end. 

And it is pretty difficult to handle when working with. 

2. Oak

Oak hardwoods are actually highly suitable for exterior columns. And there’s more than one reason for that.

It provides stability, such that even under harsh weather conditions it can sustain its shape easily. And that puts a tick mark on durability. You know this will last a while!

But there are different types of oak and the best ones would be white & red oak. The good thing about these two is that they are both aesthetically pleasing. And as an added bonus, they are also easy to work with!

However, they do require maintenance from time to time. Without that, cracks might start appearing, and the wood could eventually shrink. Plus, they have a tendency to darken with time, but staining your oak could resolve that! 

Here are some of the stains you could use for your oak:

I hope you will find these useful.

3. Birch

One of the most recommended hardwoods for exterior wood columns is birch. This hardwood in particular is highly stable. And you can use it for any shape of exterior columns tension-free.

It is strong and heavy so it will act as excellent support. And it offers an uncommon look with its pores and waves. So, it will also give your home a modern outlook.

Yet, despite how rich it looks, it’s actually more affordable than oak and mahogany. And comparatively easier to work with as well. Plus, it also has a rot-resistant property!

But it’s important to keep in mind that it has little weather and moisture resistance. And can crack or change shape easily in extremely dry conditions. 

However, if you live somewhere where the weather is mostly nice, we’d definitely recommend birch.  

4. Cedar

Cedar is actually a personal favorite in terms of softwoods. It has a unique pinkish-red color and can provide such an unusual aesthetic to your house. 

And we love standing out! 

Generally known as Western red cedar, this wood is pretty lightweight and easy to handle. And out of softwoods, it is highly durable and similarly resistant to rot.

And if that wasn’t enough, it is both moisture repellent and resistant to rough weather conditions. 

But it does have a porous surface, which makes it prone to absorbing chemicals and oils. And that could cause it to get discolored over time. 

Given that it’s softwood, it is less strong than hardwoods. And it will require regular maintenance to make it last for a prolonged period. 

But it is known for its high versatility and ease of workability. 

5. Fir

Fir or more commonly known as Douglas fir is actually one of the most common types of softwoods. They are especially used in exterior columns. It is also known as Oregon pine or Douglas spruce. 

Not only is it very affordable, but it is equally strong. Given their proneness to warping and shrinkage, it’s very suitable for harsh climates. And it’s lighter than most hardwoods, so it’s easier to handle.

Additionally, it is also insect and mold-resistant. However, it has a rough texture and that makes it hard to work with. And it loses its color with time. 

But, if softwood is your pick for the exterior column, the Douglas fir is a great pick!

6. Yellow Pine

The yellow pine is another softwood and the best thing about it is its availability. It has a lovely yellow tone and is fairly easy to handle. Plus, if you’re wondering if pine wood is strong, I’d have to say, certainly!

Besides that, it barely warps in both hot and cold temperature conditions, making it pretty stable. In addition, it is also resistant to rain and heat! 

But like most softwoods, it requires regular maintenance. Especially if you’d like to extend its lifespan. 

However, it is probably one of the most affordable types of wood for exterior columns. So if you’re on a tight budget, definitely get this one. As an added bonus, you get style points, given how good it looks!

And if you might want to check out how the yellow pine holds up against Douglas fir. In case you can’t decide which to pick.

How to Choose Wood for Exterior Columns?

When selecting wood for exterior columns, it’s important that you pick the right type of wood. Regardless of whether you’re looking to replace old ones or renovate the current ones. And even when you’re trying to get some for a new house.

Before choosing, there are some factors that you have to keep in mind. 

Let’s have a quick glimpse at these factors. 

It Must be Pressure Treated 

Firstly, you have to make sure that your wood is pressure-treated. 

The benefit of pressure-treated wood is that they are less likely to decay. Additionally, they are also less likely to get infested with insects or mold. And are less prone to water damage. 

All-in-all they are just more durable than normal wood. And if that wasn’t enough, sometimes they are also fire-retardant. 

It Has to be Kiln Dried

Next, you have to ensure that your wood is kiln-dried after treatment (KDAT). 

And just like pressure-treated wood, KDAT wood is also highly durable. This is because they are resistant to factors that cause wood to rot. 

Especially given that with kiln-dried wood, the drying process is quicker! 

So you can be sure that your wood is completely dry right out of the box. And you won’t need to wait weeks air-drying wet wood. 

It Must Be Resistant to Weather

It’s important to find wood that can resist harsh weather conditions. Especially for places that have extreme weather on a daily basis. But even if you don’t face that regularly, it’s still necessary. 

For instance, there are some woods that are moisture-repellent and great for rainy climates. So if it rains a lot where you’re at, you might need to consider these!

And then there are places with constant snow in winter. And when that goes on for a prolonged period, it can cause the wood to freeze. As a result, it might start rotting later at some point.

But luckily, there are wooden posts now which come with coatings that are water-resistant. Therefore the warping that happens to wood during winter can be prevented.

It Should Have a Capacity for Bearing Weight

One of the features of exterior columns is the posts. And their main purpose is acting as a support for the deck roofs, besides the porch. So it’s essential that the wood you select for your porch has a weight-bearing capacity. 

Sometimes there are wooden columns that are hollow inside. Even if it seems thick on the outside or looks wide in diameter. 

Therefore, confirm with the manufacturer that your wood can bear sufficient weight first!

It Should Have the Right Shape

The most popular shapes for exterior wooden columns are round and octagon. However, square and rectangular ones are common too.

But keep in mind that round and octagon ones are better as support structures. They can bear the weight better comparatively. Unless of course, you select strong hardwoods for your square or rectangular columns!

Maintenance Tips for Wooden Exteriors

Exterior columns made of wood are the best ones out there. However, they do need some extra maintenance to keep them looking as good. 

And while not all types of wood require maintenance, most of them do. So it couldn’t hurt to ensure that your wooden columns stay in mint condition for a long time! 

Remember that prevention is both better and easier than cure. So after your porch has been installed, simply prime it. And apply a protective layer of paint first. 

Next, use a caulking sealant over any visible cracks and the base of your columns. That prevents any water from getting into the columns & causing the wood to rot. 

Here are some of the best caulking sealants you could get:

And if you’re wondering how you could prevent your logs from splitting, we can hook you up with that too!


What type of paint is usually recommended for wooden exterior columns?

The type of paint usually recommended for wooden exterior columns includes two things. It’s a combination of the primer mixed with the paint product. So when you look for paint for your columns, you know what to ask for. 

Which wood is the most weather resistant?

One of the most weather-resistant woods is actually teak. And it is generally used in crafting outdoor furniture. It has a waterproof nature, so it can last for years without rotting. However, it is also used in any coastal construction. 

Which is better between the Douglas fir and cedar?

Between the Douglas fir and cedar, the cedar is certainly better. While cedarwood is softer than fir, it is still more resistant to decay. But fir is less resistant in comparison. Even when cedar is in close contact with moisture, it still takes longer to rot. 


That’s all the suggestions I had for you for the best wood for exterior columns. Hopefully, you were able to make your pick!

If you have a rotting porch post, try to get it replaced as soon as possible!

Thanks for reading till the end!

Kevin Smith

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