Is a Wooden Chair Biodegradable?

Is a Wooden Chair Biodegradable?

Wooden chairs are famous due to their biodegradable features. Biodegradable is the property of a material to break down into natural elements by the action of microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi.

Is a Wooden Chair Biodegradable? Wooden chairs are biodegradable because they are made using natural wood, which can decompose over time under specific conditions. The factors that affect the decomposition rate of chairs are the type of wood, temperature, moisture, condition of wood, microbes, insects, and air. Different biodegradable woods are used for chairs, such as bamboo, timber, maple, beech, and accoya wood.

Wood is a natural biodegradable material obtained from trees, which is used to make different products, such as furniture items, floor and wall coverings, and other industrial and residential things.

Are wooden chairs biodegradable?

Wooden chairs are an essential part of home furniture made using different types of wood and available in various designs, styles, and colors.

These chairs are biodegradable because they are made of natural wood, which can decompose into other elements by the biological process when exposed to nature.

Wood has natural biodegradable compounds, such as cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignin, which cause it to break down into harmless natural elements.

The compounds in wood break down into carbon dioxide and organic matter when discarded in a natural environment by the action of oxygen, moisture, and microorganisms.

The microorganisms release enzymes and chemicals, which cause the wood compounds to decompose without harm to the environment.

However, plastic and metal chairs do not break down into natural elements because they do not contain any natural compounds. Therefore, they are non-biodegradable and less eco-friendly than wooden chairs.

What factors affect the decomposition rate of a wooden chair?

Many factors affect the decomposition rate of wooden chairs, and some of those factors are explained here.

Type of wood

Manufacturers make furniture using different types of wood, and all have distinct features and properties. For example, different woods have different colors, and people choose the chair color that goes well with other furniture items in their house.

Moreover, the lifetime and stiffness of one type of wood are also different from others, which creates a difference in their decomposition rate and durability.

For example, untreated wood, such as pine and cedar, can break down or decompose soon because of soft wooden materials. On the other hand, treated hardwood, such as oak, takes a long time to decay because of the treated compounds. 

The hardwood is treated using different fungicides to protect it from microorganisms and stop them from active decay. Therefore, the wood type affects the decay rate of the wooden chairs.

Temperature and moisture

The environment in which the chair is placed to decompose affects the decomposition rate, such as the temperature and the moisture level in the atmosphere.

For example, the decomposition rate is slow at low temperatures because the microorganism’s reaction to decay the wood is slow, and they are less active.

The decay rate increase as temperature increases because the microorganisms become active at high temperature. However, the decomposition stops at extremely high temperatures because it kills the microbes, and there will be no decay.

Moisture also affects the decay or decomposition rate of wooden chairs, as it causes them to decay faster.

The decomposition slows down for some types of wood in high moisture, while other causes an increase in decomposition rate with high moisture. Moisture causes the pores space between the wooden compounds to increase, which leads to an increase in the decay rate.

The microorganism cannot survive without water, as they absorb water after releasing the enzymes to decompose the wood. Therefore, high moisture and temperature conditions favor a fast decay rate.

Condition of wood

Dense wood is stronger and can last many years because it takes time to decompose naturally by environmental factors and microorganism reactions.

Wood density shows the amount of biomass per unit volume and is one of the essential factors to consider when determining the decay rate and biomass.

High density causes the moisture level inside the wood to decrease and reduces the decomposition time. Moreover, soft and untreated wood has a less dense structure and can decay soon compared to treated and hardwood with high density.

Microbes and insects

Different microorganisms and insects cause the wood to disintegrate over time, converting the wooden chairs into natural and harmless compounds.

Fungi are one of the most dominant participants that act to break down the wooden compounds into carbon dioxide, oxygen, and other valuable products for other living organisms.

The organic matter obtained from the decomposed wooden chairs is utilized for various purposes without providing any damage to nature.

These microbes grow and survive inside the wood, and they digest the wood cells as food, which causes the wooden chairs to disintegrate or decay over time.


Air also affects the decomposition rate of the wooden chairs, as the microorganisms require air to grow and survive and cannot stay if no air is present.

Air also controls the moisture level required for faster decomposition. Moreover, oxygen in the air is essential for the microorganisms to grow and reproduce.

An increase in oxygen volume causes an increase in decay rate, as the bacteria and fungi disintegrate the waste wood faster into other organic matter.

Some decomposition can occur in anaerobic conditions where no oxygen is present, but the process takes more time, and the decay rate is slower.

Which types of wooden chairs are biodegradable and eco-friendly?

People use different types of wood to make furniture items, such as chairs. Some of the eco-friendly and biodegradable woods are listed here.


Bamboo is famous and frequently used wood for indoor and outdoor home furniture. Natural bamboo can be recycled when it reaches the end of its life naturally without any damage to nature.

Bamboo is eco-friendly and 100 percent biodegradable, such as it breaks down into organic matter under the right environmental conditions.

It can decompose within 8-9 weeks if proper oxygen, air, microorganisms, moisture level, and temperature are provided to the bamboo wood.

The maximum time required to decompose the bamboo is 2-4 years, depending on the conditions provided and the cold and dry environment.

However, bamboo furniture and chairs can take many years to decompose as compared to small wooden pieces because they have high density and polishing layers.

Timber wood

Timber is safe, eco-friendly, and biodegradable wood for furniture and other house products. It does not disintegrate into toxic material and can be recycled for other purposes.

The decomposed timber serves as a fuel source. The decomposition rate depends on the type of timer and the environmental conditions provided to the wooden chair.

It takes several years to decompose a pure timber chair, as most wooden chairs take 12-13 years to decay naturally. The paint and finishers cause the wood to take more time to disintegrate, and the decay time increases.

Hard maple wood

Hard maple wood is biodegradable and recyclable, which furniture manufacturers use to make chairs, beds, tables, and floor coverings.

It is a hardwood that takes more time to decompose and is sustainable. Maple wood is heavy and can last many years because of its resistance to abrasion and wear and tear.

The maple wood dries soon and starts rooting within three years; however, the entire decomposition takes many years because the male is included in hardwoods.

Beech wood

Beech wooden chairs and other products are 100 percent biodegradable and sustainable. Beech wood has a low carbon footprint and is more eco-friendly.

The beech wood chairs use hardwood, which has excellent strength and hardness. In addition, it is easy to apply paints and finishes on the beech wood, which makes it a popular choice to mix with other woods to make furniture.

It is non-resistive to root, but the decay rate is slower because it is heavy and has high density. The durability decreases if exposed to high moisture for a long time.

Accoya wood

Accoya wood is also 100 % biodegradable and is obtained from radiate pine trees, which undergo the Acetylation process to convert the radiate pine into accoya wood.

It is non-toxic and environment-friendly wood, which you can transform into renewable energy sources. However, it is a durable and strong wood and relatively more expensive than other wooden chairs and furniture.

The decomposition rate depends on the environment and the wood’s nature, as it takes much more time to decay if placed indoors and painted with different finishers. 

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