What Are the Best Tips for Preserving Wood?

Christian Petersen

Preserving wood is done by treating it with a substance that causes the wood to resist rot, insect damage, and wear. This may be done in a number of ways, and the best method for preserving wood depends on the use that the wood will be put to. Some wood preservatives are absorbed by the wood while others form an impermeable barrier on its surface. Many tricks are used by hobbyists, do-it-yourself enthusiasts, and professionals to preserve wood for all kinds of uses.

Most wood coatings prevent the absorption of moisture.
Most wood coatings prevent the absorption of moisture.

The most important thing to consider when approaching wood preservation is the intended use for the wood in question. Hardwood floors require a different type of preservation than wood used for a child's outdoor playset. Some types of woods come pre-treated. Pressure treated lumber is used when the wood is be exposed to the elements. This technique involves infusing the lumber all the way through with any one of various chemicals, some naturally occurring and some manmade, which retard decay.

Spray lacquer can help preserve wood.
Spray lacquer can help preserve wood.

Once you have determined the use for the wood to be preserved, consider what kind of finish you want. Many wood preservatives are designed to be mostly absorbed into the wood. Others form an external coating on the surface. Most external coatings preserve the wood by preventing the absorption of moisture and by providing a barrier to damage such as scratching and gouging. Most treatments for preserving wood that are fully absorbed prevent rot but may also give the wood a pleasing color or sheen.

Applying a wood preservative should always be done according to the compound manufacturer's instructions. Many of these kinds of materials will give off fumes that are unpleasant or harmful and will almost certainly be flammable if concentrated. Work in an area with adequate ventilation. Dust can get into preservatives, which might alter or even ruin the finish. For this reason, it is best to apply wood preservatives in an area as free from dust, pollen, and other possible airborne particles as possible.

Use the suggested tools and application method when applying a wood preservative. The manufacturers know which methods will work best for applying their product, whether it is with a brush, sponge, rag. Some types, such as spray lacquer, come in an aerosol can. When preserving wood, use a fresh, clean applicator, and except for brushes that have been properly cleaned, do not reuse old applicators.

The best method for preserving wood depends on what the wood is used for.
The best method for preserving wood depends on what the wood is used for.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


@heavanet- Though painting exterior wood furniture and other surfaces will help to preserve these items, a quick coat of wood preservative would be your best option to make it durable and lasting.

My recommendation is to apply the preservative first. This will provide extra protection for your wood items, and it is a job that you will not have to do frequently.

Once your wood preservative is dry, then you can paint your wood items any color you want. This will add extra protection and make your exterior wood look great. Then, in the following years, you can just touch up the paint to extend the protection of your wood items without the need to re-apply preservatives or an entire coat of paint.


I was wondering if painting different types of wood, especially those on exterior surfaces or furniture, will also help to preserve it. I have some wood items that are outside and they need painted. If painting them will preserve them, I would like to do this instead of hassling with other types of preservatives or varnishes.

Post your comments
Forgot password?