Last Updated on September 15, 2023 by Web Operator
If you want to dive into a simple project that can be completed in next to no time, then a birdhouse is one project I feel you should look at. Yet, to do so, you need the correct wood, and for me that means using either teak, fir, cedar, redwood, pine or even plywood.
But when it comes to a birdhouse, you have a key point to remember: it’s going to be outside. That does mean special care has to be taken with your choice of materials, and not just any old type of wood will do.
That simple fact can change the wood species you then have to use to get a fantastic looking birdhouse. After all, you don’t want to go through the process of building it only for mother nature to take hold and effectively destroy your work in next to no time.
So, I will try to stop that from happening, and that’s by taking you through the six best kinds of wood that you should think about using when it comes to a birdhouse.
But I won’t just give you a list of options and then leave you to choose the best one you should use. Instead, I’ll also explain why the different options are the best for a birdhouse, as I feel that will make a difference when it comes to starting your project.
Making a Birdhouse is Easy
I decided to talk you through the best woods to use for a birdhouse for the simple reason that I see this as a fantastic project that delivers results and doesn’t even take long to complete.
It’s the kind of project you can do with your child, and they can then have all the fun of watching the new family take up residency there. Also, you can use offcuts of wood, and all sorts of scraps, as a birdhouse is often supposed to look a bit on the rough side compared to some of the other projects that are out there for you to complete.
I’m really talking about something that can easily be completed in the afternoon. It’s a basic project where there’s still some need for precision to ensure everything is cut to the correct size and that you can put it all together in a way that it functions as a birdhouse.
But basically, this is the type of project you can work on as a bit of fun and with no pressure on you. That’s something I love. I just have times where I simply want to go into my workshop, mess around with some wood, and see what I come up with.
However, even with it being a simple project to complete, you still need to know you are using the correct materials. So, that’s what I plan to help you with.
Why the Correct Materials are So Important
Using the right materials will always be important with every project, but you may be unaware that it becomes even more crucial than usual when dealing with a birdhouse. Unfortunately, you cannot simply grab any old wood and think that it’s going to be perfect for such a basic structure.
The main issue is that some woods are toxic to birds, and it’s going to make them ill if you make a birdhouse and they set up a home there. Also, there are times when it’s not even the wood in its natural state that could make birds ill.
Instead, so much of the wood we purchase has been treated in some way, and that’s especially the case when we are buying wood for a project that will be sitting outside. The problem is with the chemicals used in the treatments that are deadly to birds. Once again, you may be trying to do something nice for them, but you could be harming their health instead.
Finally, there’s the simple fact that a birdhouse will be sitting outside throughout the year, so you need to use a wood that has the ability to withstand the elements and not splinter or warp as soon as some rain hits it.
And that’s what I’ve focused on when it comes to the six different kinds of wood that appear below. Each version has the ability to cope with the weather conditions, no matter where you live, and they will do so with little problems.
So, let’s get through the list and help you identify the best wood for your birdhouse.
The first wood I would recommend is cedar, and it’s perhaps one of the most popular when it comes to this type of project. I do think it’s a great option, and I say this for several reasons.
First, cedar wood does have some insulation properties. That means any birds visiting the birdhouse will feel all snug and warm when in there, and that’s something they will love in the winter months. Depending on where you live in the world, this could be a key component to consider when choosing wood. Let’s face it, you want your visitors to feel at home.
But also, cedar wood is excellent against the weather. This is thanks to it being naturally water-resistant, but this is further backed by it being resistant to decay and also insects. Basically, it creates a safe environment for the bird, and the wood is not going to simply crumble as soon as bad weather hits it.
In addition, cedar will keep its shape and size even when it has been drenched by weather. That means it creates a certain amount of stability, but I must stress you do still need to protect the wood by throwing on a coat of varnish or sealant. It won’t crack or split instantly, but this added protection does mean it will last even longer without looking tarnished.
However, and this is a point I must stress, only apply a sealant to the outside of the birdhouse. Never put it on the inside where the birds will be, as it could be dangerous for them.
Finally, cedar is relatively inexpensive, and you should have no problem getting your hands on some. It will take you hardly any time to then put the birdhouse together. You also only require basic tools to work with this wood, so brands such as Bosch or even DeWalt will be perfect.
When you look at it like that, it becomes obvious why it is such a popular wood when it comes to this type of project. For me, I think this would be my first choice when it comes to building a birdhouse.
Redwood is another widely used wood species for a project such as birdhouses, and the good news is that this wood is not toxic to birds. However, it’s the durability of the wood that catches my eye, and there’s no reason why this birdhouse should not last for a considerable length of time.
But let us not forget that redwood has a gorgeous color and grain to it. That makes it an attractive wood and will result in you having one of the most beautiful birdhouses around.
Granted, the birds that use them will not be concerned about that, but your birdhouse will certainly look well put together. Instead, they will be more concerned with how insulated it feels inside, and redwood has the ability to help with that as well.
Redwood is also highly resistant to the weather, and it will not simply rot and decay in next to no time. However, I would still recommend adding a protective layer to the outside only to help the wood along and stop the weather from ever really being able to penetrate into the birdhouse.
Again, redwood is an easy wood to get your hands on, and it won’t really break the bank either. It does mean this is a highly accessible wood, and you can make as many birdhouses as you see fit. Working with redwood is also very easy, so measuring and cutting will be quick and simple, so there’s nothing to hold you back with your birdhouse.
I see fir as falling into the same sort of bracket as redwood, and that’s a good thing when talking about birdhouses. It’s strong, very durable, and it’s not going to react too badly when dealing with the weather conditions. Also, shaping the wood is pretty easy and can even be done by hand, so no special equipment is required.
Actually, it’s the way it is so resistant to the weather that has led to me including it here in this list. The environment has to be very poor and over an extended period for it to be able to take its toll on fir. That resistance should mean your birdhouse will last a long time before you need to consider making a change.
But I want to stress something that’s very important for the birds’ health. Never purchase fir that has already been treated. While the wood is perfect for them, the chemicals used in the treatment aspect can prove to be toxic for birds. If you use the treated version, you will be putting them at risk, so please do avoid it.
But going back to the wood for a second, and one major advantage is the stability of the wood. It doesn’t shrink or contract, so the birdhouse is not going to just fall apart as the weather conditions it encounters change.
Keep in mind that fir is also resistant to both decay and insects. It does mean birds have a safer space to be in, since the wood does remain relatively secure. I also love the fact that fir can come across as looking quite rough and rustic. I know the birds are not concerned about that aspect, but there is something appealing about it all when you really look at the finished item.
If you want to go for the inexpensive option, then pine is one species of wood I would certainly look at potentially using. I know it sometimes gets a bad press, but when it comes to a birdhouse, then pine is a highly useful wood.
I know pine is a softwood, but don’t let that put you off. Instead, you should focus on the fact that pine is exceptionally easy to cut and shape, and you can easily use either power tools or hand tools to get the sort of birdhouse you are after.
Also, pine is non-toxic to birds, and that’s always something you need to check out before you go ahead and use any kind of wood. However, you cannot really leave the outside surface in its natural state if you want your birdhouse to last any length of time.
Instead, adding a protective layer to the outside only, and never on the inside, will make a huge difference. But do remember that pine is not going to expand or contract depending on the weather. It’s actually more resistant to the weather conditions than people realize.
But there is enough strength in pine for it to last over 20 years before your birdhouse perhaps needs to be replaced. I think that’s pretty good for a softwood, and the fact it will cost you next to nothing is an added bonus.
If I’m being honest, then I would say pine is the perfect wood if you are new to woodworking in general, and a birdhouse is one of your first projects. It shouldn’t take you too long to build one, and at least you have something to show for your efforts.
Also, as pine is one of the easiest kinds of wood to work with, I do see this as a wood species that is perfect for people relatively new to woodworking. It’s almost as if the wood tries its best to help you out, and I love that about pine. I know it can be tough with knots throwing you off, but honestly, I’d kick things off with pine knowing you can rip out those cuts and produce a cool birdhouse in next to no time.
So, I know that teak is expensive compared to other wood, so this is certainly more of a luxury birdhouse, but I don’t think that is something that should put you off thinking about using it.
Teak is very durable, and it’s also highly resistant to the weather conditions. It takes something pretty special for the weather to break through teak, and that’s why it is so widely used when it comes to wooden outdoor furniture.
The oil in teak manages to effectively repel water, and from the perspective of a birdhouse, it means everything will be nice and dry inside with no decay or even warping over time.
Also, because of the oil, teak will also put up some stern resistance to decay, rot, insects, and anything else that can literally attack wood. It all means a teak birdhouse will require little in the way of maintenance, and who wants to undertake regular maintenance on a birdhouse anyway?
I see this as being a major positive to using teak. It’s almost as if the wood is right there helping you out by ensuring it will outlast pretty much any other wood species out there. I love this fact because most people simply want to make the birdhouse, hang it outside, and then forget about it for years.
At least with teak, that does become an option for you.
But overall, the thing that works against teak as a useful option is the cost. However, if you do feel like splashing out or even have some teak offcuts available, then there’s no doubt you can indeed produce a fantastic birdhouse.
Plywood is yet another option for any individual contemplating building a birdhouse. I know this may come as a bit of a surprise to some people, by plywood can be an effective material for you to at least think about using.
But I do have a tip. You must opt for high-grade plywood, and don’t go for a treated option either. A treated option will prove to be toxic to the birds, so you will have to avoid buying it. Do double-check that this is the case before you purchase, as it may not always be obvious that the plywood has indeed been treated.
The high grade will work better, and it should use something called phenolic resin to hold the individual layers of the plywood together. This makes it safer for birds to be around, and it also provides better stability within the material itself.
Now, you can obviously treat the outside of the birdhouse to give it more protection, and that’s something I would certainly recommend. Failing to do that may result in your birdhouse effectively falling apart, and who wants that to happen?
Plywood will prove to be surprisingly warm for birds as it does have some thermal properties within it, thanks to the layer’s aspect. Also, you will have no problem getting your hands on some, no matter where you live, and it’s merely a case of cutting out the individual pieces and nailing it all together. Nailing it is better than glue, just to make it safer for the inhabitants.
As long as you protect the outside surface of the plywood, then there’s no reason why it will then struggle in dealing with the weather conditions. I know people automatically assume that plywood will go all weird, but if you get the correct version, then it won’t happen, at least not for a number of years and on a project of this small scale.
Which Option is Best?
I’ve given you six different options when it comes to choosing the best wood for a birdhouse, but which is best?
My personal preference would be for something along the lines of either cedar or fir. However, I wouldn’t be upset if all I could get was some redwood, as it would still result in a fantastic birdhouse.
But cedar and fir are so versatile and resistant to the weather that I simply cannot look past them as being the best options.
Also, I feel they strike the perfect balance between durability and price. They do not cost anywhere near as much as teak, even though teak does then give better resistance to the weather, so I see them as more budget-friendly.
So that’s my list of the six best kinds of wood to use for a birdhouse, and I feel that any one of them will be capable of doing a fantastic job. However, the key to all of this is ensuring you only ever choose a wood that is not toxic to birds. After all, you don’t want to make them a nice birdhouse only for it to then cause them problems.
But there’s more to think about than just the wood. So, to help you out, here are some other articles that may make life that bit easier for you.