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Blue Tit perched on entrance hole of untreated, brand new wooden bird box mounted to tree

Best wood for bird boxes

To buy or build a bird box in a type of wood that lasts outdoors is essential, but so to is a wooden bird box made to compliment the garden.

Best wood for bird boxes on the cheap would be those made in Pine, while Marine Ply can be added to extra large boxes. Luxury producers of bird boxes use Birch or Fir, but Oak and rarely used Cedar wood is not to be missed. Never use MDF or Chipboard, but always treat bare wood in clear preserve.

It really can depend on where you intend to site the bird box in your garden, so a box that can be stained or painted must be considered.

I believe the best wood for bird boxes to be more hard to buy bird boxes: such as those made in luxury Fir, Birch, Oak or Cedar wood - with the latter being more popular in the USA.

Bird boxes built in other types of wood is possible, but to use one of these types of timber in use - its really only what you need.

Built in pine or other softwood bird boxes must be treated to last longer outdoors.

Whereas hardwood, or more made in rarer wood bird boxes, would ideally be coated in in clear treatment, to preserve that beautiful colouring in the grain.

To paint or stain a bird box in a colour that is suited to the decor of your garden is favourable, but only use a clear preserve if using more luxury types of wood.

Cheap, accessible PINE

To make your own bird box can come at little cost to you if using the widely available to buy, strips of pine at B&Q or Wickes.

Rise in cost is due to more wood supply than is needed, but pine is a great choice if you wish to stay well within budget.

However, going cheap can have its drawbacks as its not the best quality wood.

You'd need to visit the store yourself to pick up strips of pine that is not bowed or warped - which is a common occurrence in this cheap to buy timber.

But it is easy to work with when making a bird box, with many thicknesses available so you can avoid stripping the planks while focusing more on mitring.

Cheap to buy then but use of Pine is not the best timber to build for outdoor use.

Large Bird Boxes use PLY

Building a big bird box for the garden or out in nature use? Then rely on a sheet of Marine Plywood to build bigger boxes with cheaper wood in use.

Where you can use ply - preferably Marine Ply for outdoor use - is to fill in large areas where more luxury timber would seem to go to waste.

Example of that is building a big Owl or Kestrel bird box for use out in the woods, whereas if it was seen in the garden - you'd want to setup something more appealing to the eye.

Never build or buy a standard nest box for small birds then those only made in Plywood, as its not the most appealing sheet material. Birch face Ply is nice but the veneer seen on the edges is not something you can hide.

Plywood is best for mass produced bird boxes for use in woodlands - where its used to preserve wildlife - whereas it can appear to be an unsightly setup in the garden.

Luxury Fir or Birch

Why I refer you to Fir or Birch to build or buy a bird box in this type of wood is because well known UK producers make use of this wood.

Manufacturer's of bird boxes who use Birch or Fir are Wildlife World, Harrison's and Herz - so you can guarantee a luxury built box.

While untreated Birch bird boxes would benefit from a tinted preserve as it is quite pale, those made in Fir are in a more natural dark colour - but would still need a coating of preserve.

Common use of Birch are in log type bird boxes with the bark still in place.

Whereas Fir bird boxes are made in stripped wood, but like Pine it can be a softwood but is far more superior.

Fir or Birch is best for bird boxes then but it can be costly, but a little more difficult to source at timber merchants who rarely supply it.

High end OAK option

You may only come to recognise Oak being used on luxury furniture, rather than the flat-packed kind - but it can be used to build or buy a beautiful bird box.

Now I would say the Oak grain has one of the most beautiful finishes, so to apply paint or stain a bird box would be a tragedy. I therefore only recommend preserving an Oak bird box if you are making it yourself or buying it - in a clear preserve.

Staining an Oak bird box can be an option but only if using non toxic stains or preserve.

Pale in colour with an amazing grain, so to buy an Oak bird box its going to unlikely see this covered up in stain or paint.

But what you will get is quite an expensive bird box to setup in your garden. Shame really as it will fit in with your living room or dining room furniture.

Oak then is one of the best woods you can use for bird boxes, but it comes at a steep price while being more difficult to source from timber merchants.

CEDAR can be costly

I don't associate Cedar bird boxes as being a thing in the UK, but more so something that is more known in the USA.

Cedar wood bird boxes are luxury, yet more rare to can buy in the UK, but boy don't they have a remarkable grain finish to them.

Not something to be painted or stained over really, but to buy or build a Cedar wood bird box would preferably be untreated - or at least preserved in a clear preserve.

To allow an unstained, unpainted Cedar bird box to weather naturally, is nothing too drastic in terms of loss in quality - Cedar wood can last well outdoors but age in a more pleasant way.

Cedar wood bird boxes are more luxury mind while being built or bought at a higher price, so do seal the Cedar bird box in a clear preserve as you want to maintain its natural finish for longer.

Best wood for bird boxes would be those made in Cedar wood then, but it can cost and arm and leg, while more difficult to buy Cedar on the cheap on the UK.

Forget MDF or chipboard

Any bird box to buy that is promoted as made in MDF or Chipwood, is an absolutely no-no - and so to is the supplier selling it to you.

Never buy a bird box made in MDF or Chipboard, be it treated for outdoor use or not.

MDF, once exposed to outdoor elements can see this popular indoor sheet material expand when exposed to the elements - while never recovering.

Its cheap, be it very heavy to hold, but is something that can never be attractive for use in the garden.

Likewise, Chipboard can be used outdoors under certain circumstances, but again is not the most attractive timber in use.

Bond holding the chipping can do all sorts of odd things out in the heat or cold, but doesn't age well either, so can be highly unattractive after months or years of use.

Best bird box timber summary

Cheap to buy but very accessible pinewood is an option then but while it can warp very quickly, you don't want to rule it out so soon.

Its easy to work with to build a bird box but cheap to buy a bird box if made in pine.

However, better, more expensive options do exist while appearing to be far more luxury, with an unmissable grain.

Extra large bird boxes for birds of pray don't need its backing or areas never seen to be built in luxury wood, if these parts are made in Marine Plywood, is not unusual - and certainly not something to frown upon.

You can go one better though with bird boxes made in Fir or Birch being sold more widely - followed by Oak or Cedar wood.

Never buy bird boxes made in-part or whole in MDF or Chipwood.

But for a bird box that looks more natural, more tempting to wild birds, is actually a bird box made in Woodcrete - its a bird box made in a sawdust, clay and concrete that can outlast most all made in wood bird boxes.

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