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How to Make Wood Waterproof

Waterproofing wood with wood stain.

Although wood could never exist without water, it cannot tolerate long-term exposure to water without some type of waterproofing.

If it wasn’t for waterproofing, your deluxe yacht would sink, your wooden snow skis would warp, your drifting dock would cease to float, and your outdoor furnishings would rot away!

Today, I offer you three intelligent and simplistic methods to waterproof wood in order to protect its structural integrity.

Let’s not waste any time here. The wood is rotting!

Come on, let’s go!

Why Waterproof Wood?

Rain drops on wood planks

Waterproofing wood not only protects it from water, other liquids, and moisture, but also from ultraviolet light rays, insects, severe temperatures, and more.

When you waterproof wood, you will lengthen its lifespan and protect it from:

  • Mold and mildew
  • Structural breakdown
  • Staining and discoloration
  • Splintering, warping, twisting, and cracking
  • Scratching, scuffing, and other wear and tear

Plus, waterproofing gives you a chance to enhance the appearance of your wood. While you are waterproofing your deck or other wooden structure, it’s easy to add in some color.

3 Intelligent and Easy Ways to Waterproof Wood

OK, here we go. Let’s take a look at three different ways that you can waterproof wood to protect and beautify it. We’ll consider:

  1. Polyurethane, Lacquer, and Varnish
  2. Wood Sealants
  3. Tung Oil

Let’s start with polyurethane, varnish, and lacquer.

TECHNIQUE 1: Polyurethane, Lacquer, or Varnish

Varathane, Gloss Water Based Polyurethane

Varnish, lacquer, and polyurethane are the traditional standbys for sealing and waterproofing wood. You can brush them, roll them, or spray them on. Always apply them at room temperature and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Also, it’s important that they are thoroughly mixed, but use a stir stick to do it. If you shake the container, you’ll cause bubbles to develop, which is not what you want to see in your finish.

These solvent-based products tend to dry quickly, within 1/2 an hour or less with adequate ventilation and circulation, which makes it a fast and simple process to apply two thin coats for best results.

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TECHNIQUE 2: Wood Sealants

BEHR Premium Wood Stain and Sealer

Quality wood sealants are multi-purpose products that are very effective for waterproofing wood. They’re especially useful on large wooden structures, like decks, fencing, window and door trim, and exterior wood siding.

Plus, most wood sealant products are available with stain included, which makes it easy to beautify your wood by adding a new hue at the same time you’re sealing it.

Of course, you can also get wood sealants that do not contain staining pigments. Translucent, opaque, and other varieties are available.

You’ll have to apply these types of products annually, or at most, every two years, in order to maintain optimal waterproofing protection.

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TECHNIQUE 3: Tung Oil and Linseed Oil

Hope's Pure Tung Oil

Tung oil and linseed oil are my two favorite products for waterproofing wood. Tongue oil is derived from an Asian tree, and linseed oil is extracted from flaxseeds. These natural products do not contain high-VOC substances like the solvents found in wood sealants.

Linseed oil and tung oil are both applied to wood by rubbing them on with a rag. Their natural oils beautify the wood while also providing excellent sealing effects. The oils are especially beautifying on dark-grained woods like mahogany and walnut.

As with polyurethane, varnish, and lacquer, you want to stir tongue oil and linseed oil thoroughly, but don’t shake it up and make a lot of bubbles in it.

I wipe these products on wood with a clean, lint-free rag, let them set in, and then go back and wipe off any residual oil on the surface. Then, I allow the wood to completely dry out, which can take a few hours, or an entire day. It depends on how oily your mixture is and the atmospheric conditions at hand.

Of course, because these products are hand-rubbed, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to use them on large projects, like an entire deck, or a long line of fencing. They’re much more suitable for small projects, like sealing an outdoor chair, or a custom wooden surfboard.

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My Closing Thoughts About Waterproofing Wood

Whichever method you choose to waterproof your wood, take your time with every step of the project. Get to know the wood that you are sealing, and spend some extra thought and energy ensuring the best results possible. You won’t have to seal the wood very often, so you might as well go all out and do an excellent job!

Thank you very much for reading along and hanging out for a while today, and I hope that you find the information valuable. Wood is a natural product, and without protection, it will eventually fall to the forces of nature around it. Waterproofing your wood protects it from not only water, but also other environmental factors that can cause it to structurally degrade, and eventually, rot away.

Nobody wants that!

Protect the Wood!