Exterior Wood Treatment


Wood exposed to the elements needs protection from the sun's harsh rays, mold, mildew, moisture and insects. The type of wood, the type of exposure and your geographic region all combine to influence the type of exterior wood treatment you need. Properly applied wood treatments can extend the life of and add beauty and functionality to your exterior wood.


  • The cost of wood products, along with the cost of products to treat and preserve the wood, continues to rise. The proper application of products to protect your exterior wood will save you both time and money when it comes to replacing damaged exterior wood products. It is important to follow manufacturer's instructions carefully when applying exterior wood treatment products to prevent the need for reapplication too soon.


  • The type of exterior wood treatment you apply depends upon the type of protection you require. Products are available that protect wood from decay due to moisture, damage from insects and color changes due to sun and rain. Properly determining the type of protection needed will help you find the products available to offer this protection. Different geographical regions, such as regions near salt water, also help determine the protective products needed for proper exterior wood treatment.


  • There are generally two types of wood preservatives: the oily type, which includes creosote, and waterborne salts. Waterborne salts are the preservatives commonly used to make pretreated wood products, like those used to make decks. Waterborne salt repellent products help keep excess moisture from seeping into exterior wood products and causing mildew and rot. Stains and outdoor finishes keep the sun and rain from changing the color of your outdoor wood. Mildew deterrents not only keep the wood from changing colors, but also help to prevent rot. Special wood treatments such as creosote help seal moisture and preserve wood exposed to excessive moisture, such as landscape timbers, retaining walls and steps.

Treatment Details

  • The best time to treat exterior wood is during a dry period when the wood products have had sufficient time to lose any excess retained water. It is best to treat exterior wood on a moderately warm day, avoiding excessive heat, as this can cause the wood to absorb the preservative products unevenly. When applying products to prevent insect damage, the wood should be dry, with no expected precipitation for several hours after application.


  • Paint is another alternative for treating exterior wood surfaces to prevent decay. Be sure to choose a paint specifically designated for use outdoors. Be sure the surface of the wood to be painted is clean and dry. Apply the paint in a shaded area to prevent the sun from causing the paint to dry unevenly. Preferably, apply the paint in an open garage to protect the wet paint from insects, pollen and other airborne objects.

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