How to Weatherproof Wood for Outdoors: A Step-by-Step Guide
Whether you’re building a new deck or investing in some new garden furniture, if it’s made of wood and will be used outdoors, then you need to make sure that it is weatherproofed so that it stands up to the elements.
Weatherproofing wood will take a little time, but it is vital that you do it to ensure that you don’t need to replace it all again within a few years. We looked at the best wood to buy for outdoors and how to weatherproof it.
What Is the Importance of Weatherproofing Wood?
Weatherproofing wood will do much more than just protect it from rotting away in the rain. You can treat wood to protect it from UV rays, humidity, frost, and insect damage. Of course, this won’t make your wood or wooden furniture immune to these external influences, but it certainly will aid in lengthening the lifespan of it.
Any wood that is exposed to the outdoor elements will need to be treated even if it is undercover on your porch. If left untreated, the wood is susceptible to rotting, cracking, and warping. This applies to all wooden items in the outdoors including your deck, shed, and furniture.
What Are the Best Woods for Outdoor Use?
Some woods are better at resisting decay than others, so it’s important to choose your wood wisely. When buying patio or garden furniture, check what kind of wood it is made from. Even though it may cost more, there is often a good reason for that, and a more considerable investment now will pay off down the line as it will last you a lot longer.
In the USA, for example, there are three types of wood that are most widely used due to their availability, suitability, and cost. They are all American softwoods and the price of each will reflect the availability of that particular wood, in the area you live.
- Redwood: widely available in the western United States
- Western red cedar: the most popular choice in the Midwest
- Cypress: recognized as the best choice in the eastern United States
How to Weatherproof Wood for Outdoors?
The easiest way to weatherproof your wood is to use wood sealant or stain. A sealant will give a transparent finish whereas a wood stain has added pigment that will change the way the wood looks. Both will waterproof the wood equally well but should be reapplied every few years.
Step 1: Prepare the Wood
The first thing you need to do is prepare the surface of your wood by sanding it down. Start by using rough sandpaper to tackle any imperfections in the wood and to remove any previous treatment.
Finish with finer sandpaper to make it as smooth and even as possible. Clean the surface after sanding to remove any sanding residue.
If you’re buying furniture, then this will already have been done so you may just need to wipe it down so that you have a clean, dry surface.
Step 2: Choose Your Sealant and Stain
Most sealants and stains will be sold for the application you need it for. For example, you’ll find fence sealant, deck sealant, and furniture sealant.
If you need your wood to stand up against humidity, UV rays, and water, then look for marine wood sealant. If you prefer a wood stain, then make sure that it is suitable for exterior use.
If you’re working with large areas such as a deck, then consider a product that can be used with a paint sprayer for faster application; otherwise, you’ll just need brushes to apply.
Step 3: First Coat
The next step on how to weatherproof wood for outdoors is to apply the sealant or stain evenly with your brush or sprayer and allow to dry for four to ten hours, depending on the product's instructions.
Step 4: Sand
After the first coat, many sealants require a second sanding so that the next coat sticks better. This should be done with very fine sandpaper or “0000” steel wool. Wipe the surface down again with a dry cloth to prepare it for the second coat.
Step 5: Second and Third Coats
Apply the second coat and allow to dry once more, remembering that each coat will take longer to dry than the previous one. Once dry, finely sand and clean again before applying your third and final coat.
Step 6: Leave to Cure
It is recommended that you leave the wood to cure for around three days before using it or placing any furniture on top of it.
Using wood for outdoor projects looks great, and given the right time, care, and attention, it will last you for decades. Just remember to reapply your sealant or stain every few years. Your time and effort will protect your wood from the outdoor elements come rain or shine.
Sealants and stains are available in almost all home improvement stores so just check that they are specially made for outdoor use and read the instructions on the product to check for drying times and whether you need to sand between coats or not.