Is Driftwood Strong? How Much Weight Will It Hold?

Is driftwood strong?

Driftwood is a specific material that is created naturally by the effects of natural forces on wood that have ended up in a body of water. As air, water, the Sun, bacteria, and algae exert themselves over the wood, it is transformed into a sturdy, resilient material. The waves erode and shape the wood, the microorganisms decompose the wood’s organic material, and lastly the Sundries and bleaches the wood once it inevitably washes ashore.

As the main uses of driftwood, today include decorations – inside or outside the house, pieces in aquariums, sculptures, and furniture, it should be considered that the strength of driftwood mainly relates to being used as furniture, as it has to endure possibly years of use and abuse. Houses and other large structures made out of driftwood are practically non-existent, except in the history of the Inuit people.

How strong is driftwood?

To answer this question, one must first define what strength is. Strength represents the capacity of a material to resist either fracture or deformation from an applied force. It can be classified as tensile strength (resistance to being pulled apart), compressive strength (resistance to having its size reduced), and shear strength (two surfaces sliding against each other).

Another thing to consider is the nature of the wood that the driftwood came from. As hardwood and softwood have different characteristics, so will their driftwood counterparts. For instance – Malaysian driftwood is a hardwood type that’s very dense and can be quite frustrating to cut without power tools.

Generally, driftwood is considered a medium-strong material, due to the process of corrosion it goes through. With decent compressive and tensile strength, driftwood can be used in a wide array of applications, but it does lack shear strength.

How easily can driftwood be broken?

Try it for yourself, while you can easily snap driftwood branches in half, a proper log will be practically impossible to break in two. 

With the factors mentioned above, driftwood is a quite sturdy material that can take a lot of beating before it gives in. Considering the nature of wood as a building material, and the natural process of curing it goes through, driftwood can make for a great unique building material for furniture that will last a long time, if properly prepared, treated and joined together. It should be noted that driftwood is not recommended for use as large supporting structures, and similar.

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