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How to Store Lumber Outside : Complete Guide

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Lumber is a versatile material widely used in furniture and building projects. For many individuals, storing lumber outside is a common practice due to space constraints. However, it’s crucial to store lumber correctly to prevent it from getting wet or excessively drying out.

If you’re unfamiliar with the process, storing lumber can be a challenging task. To simplify this task, here are some steps you can follow to ensure effective storage of lumber outdoors. Additionally, these steps will help you in managing the specific requirements associated with storing lumber outside.

Steps On How to Store Lumber Outside:

Steps On How to Store Lumber Outside

Step 01:

Stack the lumber on its longest side. If possible, store it in a covered area to protect it from rain or snow. Many construction supply retailers will let you buy individual boards for free if you are only making one or two cuts of lumber rather than buying an entire 8′ 2×4 board.

This is ideal for smaller projects that need a few boards to complete, as you can they have the boards cut down for free and not waste a whole board.

Step 02:

The second step is to stack the lumber off the ground. This will help prevent rot and insects from eating it.

It is best to stack the scrap wood on a concrete pad or brick patio if possible. This is also beneficial because it does not turn into mud if it rains.

Step 03:

The wood should be covered with a plastic sheet or tarp to protect it from rain and snow. It is best to cover the lumber every night to help prevent dampness, which can lead to rot and bug infestation.

The best way to store lumber you plan on using at some point in time is to stack the boards on their longest side and keep them away from moisture content like rain or snow. In order to avoid weather damage, store it under a covered area if possible. In addition, it is important to have the lumber off of the ground and covered to protect it from rot and bugs.

Why Should Lumber Be Stored Outside?

Why Should Lumber Be Stored Outside

01. Prevents Rot and Insects

It is best to place your lumber in a dry area with limited access to water sources if you plan to store it for more than a few days or weeks. If you have a shed or outbuilding that does not have any moisture problems, these are great places to store wood. Dampness found inside of sheds can lead to mold, rot, and insects.

02. Balances Wood Moisture

Leaving your lumber stored outside in the summer helps balance the moisture inside of the material.

When it is hot outside, wood can absorb water from rain or snow. Leaving this lumber out during the winter will allow the material to dry out without concern for condensation caused by the colder air.

03. Prevents Warping and Cracking

Wood can warp or crack because of internal stresses in any environment, but this is much less likely to occur within an exterior storage scenario.

When lumber is stored under a tarp, it does not have to adjust to humidity changes throughout the year. This helps maintain the natural shape of the biding and prevents splitting and cracking.

04. Easily Accessible Lumber with No Assembly Required

When you store your wood indoors, you either need to put it away as soon as it is cut or risk wrestling with a cumbersome stack of boards after every use.

When the wood is already in the room that it will be used in, there is no assembly required. This makes it easy to fire up the saw and get to work on your latest project.

05. Avoid Bugs and Dirt

Bugs and other pests love to feast on plywood, seasoned firewood, particleboard, and wood that has been freshly cut from a mill.

Leaving your lumber stored outside protects it from these critters. It also keeps the material free of sawdust or other contaminants that can be found in busy shops or firewood storage areas.

What Things Should You Consider When Storing Lumber Outdoors?

What Things Should You Consider When Storing Lumber Outdoors

01. Check Your Tarp

When covering outdoor seasoned wood stockpiles with tarps or plastic, you need to keep an eye on the material. If these materials are not checked regularly, they can sag down and slowly crush your lumber. Over time, this can warp boards and ruin them for future projects.

02. Protect Your Lumber from the Elements

Another problem that occurs with outdoor storage is that wood can get exposed to harsh weather conditions.

When rain, snow, or even sun dries up on a board it can warp and twist them in odd ways. While this does not ruin wooden boards altogether, they are often considered useless for crafting or construction purposes.

03. Keep Wood Away from Moisture If Storing It for Over a Year

If you’re storing your lumber for more than 12 months, keep it off the ground and away from water sources. When these materials get in between the boards it can cause them to stick together. Avoid stacking wood over 12″ high because this height makes it easy for the materials to collapse into each other and create unwanted bridges between stacks.

04. Keep Boards Off of the Ground When Using Them in Wet Environments

If you are using wood outdoors, be careful when setting it on surfaces like concrete or dirt. If these surfaces are damp or wet, you run the risk of warping your boards by exposing them to moisture.

If you have a saw capable of cutting across the grain, you can cut slabs off of larger boards without worrying about how they are set up on these surfaces. Otherwise, it is best to place material directly onto supports like sawhorses or other lumber stands.

05. Avoid Water Damage to the Ends of Boards

When cutting lumber to size, pay close attention to how you are making these cuts. Floating or snapping off pieces of wood can cause severe damage to one end of a board because it essentially turns the material into a chisel that is driven into the side of other boards.

If you need to cut a board in half, set it so that the freshly sawed side is facing up and away from other lumber.


01.  Is Reclaimed Wood Safe To Be Stored Outside?

It is safe to store reclaimed wood outside. Once the wood has been dried, it can be stored outside as long as it has been dried properly.

02.  Is Treated Lumber Good for Wood Furniture?

Treated wood is widely used in various types of lumber furniture, such as patio furniture and decking due to its exceptional strength.

03.  Is It Possible To Store Lumber in a Lumber Rack?

Lumber can be stored outside in a lumber rack. However, lumber stored in a firewood rack must be elevated above ground in order to avoid getting wet.

04.  How Can I Make My Treated Wood Last Longer Outdoors?

If you plan to keep your treated lumber outdoors for an extended period of time, you can use a few simple techniques to make them last longer. If your wood is in contact with the ground, stack it off to prevent moisture content from building up.

Keep lumber away from snow and rain, which can cause it to warp or rot. You can also treat lumber before storing it outside by applying a thin coat of linseed oil every 6 months. The linseed oil will act as a thin sealant, preventing moisture content buildup while protecting the wood against bugs and other pests.”


Storing lumber, especially outdoors, can initially seem like a daunting task. However, after reading this article and following the provided steps, you should feel more confident and equipped to store lumber outside. It is our hope that this article has provided valuable insights and guidance on how to properly store lumber outdoors. By implementing these tips, you can ensure that your lumber remains in good condition and ready for use in your future projects.

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