Can You Use Non Pressure Treated Wood Outside?

There are lots of exterior wood structures that you might come across. You might on outdoor wooden pieces ranging from wooden deck and picnic tables. Not ignoring that environmental conditions can be too harsh, most people find it easy to use pressure-treated wood for their exterior wood structures. Perhaps you’ve been asking the question can you use non pressure treated wood outside?

Yes, you can use non-pressure treated wood outside for exterior wood structures. However, it would be best to take some protective measures to ensure that these structures can stay durable as long as you want.

To ensure your wood structures’ durability, you can use outdoor wood sealers, paints, and stains. If you use your wood outside without giving it the necessary protection and proofing, it might end up giving you problems later on as you spend more on repair and damage to your project. This article will provide you with all the necessary information you need to know about non-pressure treated wood.

How long will non pressure treated wood last outside?



It can last as long as five years, although it depends on a few factors like exposure to sunlight, the region’s climate, and the area used outdoor. Depending on the project used, the wood might decay faster if used for a wood vegetable garden, while it might last up to 10 years if used on decks.

Although its durability might be reduced due to water, termites and microorganisms causes it to decay. Its life span depends on the project it’s used for.

How to tell the difference between treated and untreated non-pressure wood

Beginners and even professionals in woodworks still find it difficult to differentiate between the pressure treated and the non -pressure wood. The most important thing to pay attention to is the green tint.

Naturally, the pressure-treated wood bears end tags that identify the chemical used in the treatment process, the wood most times either has a brown or green color it acquired during the treatment.

More so, treated wood often has an oily, chemical odor compared to non-treated lumber, a natural, pleasant scent. One can use the smell to tell the difference between the two types of wood.

Read AlsoHow to treat untreated wood for outdoor use.

Risks of using non-pressure treated wood outside.

If you choose to use non-pressure treated wood outside, you need to know the possible risks you’re willing to take in the process of use.


The significant risk is water, which is a disadvantage. As soon as wood gets wet, anything can happen to it. It can start rotting and decaying, and eventually, molds can begin growing on it. To prevent your non-pressure treated wood from possible damages by water, you need to use an outdoor wood sealer, which will help waterproof your wood and prevent it from water infiltration.


As much as sunlight has many benefits, it poses a significant disadvantage to both pressure and non-pressure treated wood. Sunlight produces ultraviolet rays, these rays are dangerous, so that they will first drain the oil that is present in the wood, and once the oil is gone, it’ll start losing color and eventually fade away with time.

One way to protect wood against the sun is by using stains with UV light blockers.


Once the wood is exposed to a high humidity level, molds will start growing on the wood, which eventually leads to rot and decay.

Climatic condition

Climate and weather also affect the durability of the woods. The climatic condition varies, which makes it a critical risk to consider before use. The climatic condition of the area you want to use your wood will greatly determine if the wood can be used outdoor and how long it’ll last.

Types of wood suitable for outdoor use


The wood varies, so is its durability. Some woods are highly resistant, while others start rotting once they soak up water. Even though we encourage the use of pressure-treated wood outdoors, some wood species will thrive in the outside environment even if left untreated such wood types are redwood, cypress, cedar, white oak.

These woods have a unique ability to work well with protective agents such as sealers, making them suitable for exterior usage. On the contrary, woods like pine, alder, and ham lock are weak and have a higher rotting rate if untreated and used for outdoor purposes.

Steps on how to seal non-pressure treated wood for outdoor use.

Non-pressure wood needs to be sealed with sealers of high quality to increase its durability and life span. The following steps will guide you on how to seal your non-pressure wood pieces without stress.

  • If you have non-pressure treated wood, especially the one you intend to use outside and want to prolong its life span, you have to seal it. Before you start the sealing process, you should ensure that the wood is in good condition and beats no initial sign of rotting or decay.
  • As you prepare for your sealing process, ensure that the wood is dry. Once you’re sure that it is dry, you can go ahead to clean the timber. Ensure the wooden surface dries thoroughly and ensure that no air is trapped inside.
  • After about 48-72 hours, your wood should be dried and ready to accept the top sealing coat. Use the application methods as directed by the manufacturers to apply the sealer over the wood’s surface.
  • Allow the first coat of the sealer on the wooden surface to dry. Afterward, add the second layer over the first and give it time to cure before starting using your surface. Using a third coat is optional. However, the layers are enough to protect your wooden pieces.

How do you tell the difference between deck stain and sealer?

There are some cases you will realize that a formula functions both as a stain and a sealer. However, you can choose to use the two independently.

How do you differentiate the two? Stain plays an essential function in changing the deck’s look through a color change, while sealers are mostly transparent and do not alter the wood’s color. Sealers give wood surfaces some level of beautiful shine.

They provide a protective function more than the decorative one.

A sealant gives a transparent finish, whereas wood stains add pigment that changes the wood’s look. However, both will make the wood waterproof and needs to reapply every few years.

Simple steps on how to weatherproof non-pressure treated wood

These outlined simple steps will guide you on how to weatherproof your wood piece and structures at your convenience. Use these steps for both indoor and outdoor wood structures.

  •  First, you could adopt linseed or tung oil to form a protective and beautiful hand-rubbed finish on the surface of the wood.
  •  The other option is to use varnish, polyurethane, or lacquer finish.
  • You can settle for semitransparent deck stains as a way of making your non-pressure treated wood waterproof.
  •  Seal the wood with a coating of polyurethane, varnish, or lacquer.
  • Finish and waterproof wood simultaneously with a stain-sealant combination.

Tools and materials needed

  1. Linseed and tung oil
  2. Sealer or stain
  3. Polyurethane
  4. Varnish
  5. Lacquer finish
  6. Brush
  7. Rags

How to use and maintain non-pressure treated wood outside.
  1. Keep it dry
  2. Decay and rot are directly connected to fungi’ growth, and moisture is required for the microorganisms to survive. Removing water and keeping it dry will help to prevent decay.
  3. Keep it shaded
  4. Excess sunlight will cause warping and degrade the natural oils and deplete the natural chemicals present in the timber. Please keep it away from prolonged exposure to sunlight to strengthen its durability.
  5. Stable climate
  6. Unstable temperature and humidity can affect your work negatively. The fungi need a rich supply of oxygen, moisture, and weather to reproduce and thrive. When those nutritional requirements are met, they convert the wood into a food store that causes rot and decay. It would be best if you controlled the temperature as well as the moisture to control the speed.
  7. Weatherproofing
  8. Although natural weather-resistant lumber is the best alternative for outdoor use, it becomes weak and vulnerable to decay and rot at a particular stage. Only sealers or paint with UV protection must correctly weatherproof the raw boards to ensure their long durability and life span.

Final Thoughts – Can You Use Non Pressure Treated Wood Outside?

So far, both pressure and non-pressure treated wood has been discussed, and I revealed that you could use non-pressure treated wood for exterior use. To increase its life span, you can use sealers and stain to make it weatherproof, which increases the durability of the wood in the long run.

Although, if you decide to work on a project that will serve for a very long time, for example, three decades, you’ll have to use pressure-treated wood. Using non-pressure treated lumber for outdoor purposes depends on the type of wood you want to use for your outdoor woodworking process and your choice and preferences, but non-pressure treated wood works well for outdoor use.

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