Can You Use Non Pressure Treated Wood Outside?

Can you use non pressure treated wood outside? Yes. Untreated timber will also be a feasible option outdoor with active steps if appropriate.

The life of unpressurized wood will be extended by treatments such as sealing, painting, or using other bonding agents.

Even so, you might end up with some issues, such as incurring extra costs when trying to restore damage if you use non-pressurized lumber outside and fail to supply the structure with the required protection.


Advantages Of Untreated Lumber

Can I Use Non Pressure Treated Wood Outside

More and more people are going back with the raw materials since chemical processed materials are harmful to human health.

In fact, CCA (chromated copper arsenate), which is founded in industrial wood protection products, is known to cause various cancer forms and even deaths.

The debate remains unresolved whether or not there are cases of an absolutely healthy application of treated timber.

1. Better for users’ health

The obviously pros of raw timber are that it does not face any health risks.

It is almost as close to the wood in its natural form.

You should only use untreated materials when you create something that you frequently in contact with, such as playing equipment, lawn furniture, benches, etc.

If you build an elevated garden bed, a flowerpot, a making mulch, the natural board can also be used.

Any chemical compounds used for wood are intended for the destruction of insects, so they will certainly not good for your soil either.

It might destroy flowers, plants, and invade your vegetable garden.

2. Price friendly

untreated lumber near me

It is much cheaper than industrial lumber.

Since CCA treated timber has been withdrawn from the market, modern processing methods are utilizing high levels of copper, which is much more expensive.

As a result, treated wood prices have increased dramatically.

You do not have to think about protecting your skin when using non-pressure treated wood outside.

You may want to wear a mask to keep from breathing in sawdust, but you can wear short sleeves or shorts without the doubt that you may be threatened.

On the contrary, for processed timber, you should cover it adequately with long sleeves, long trousers, and eyeglasses.

Make sure you clean off your clothes properly afterward.

What Risk Can I Face If I Use Untreated Wood Outdoors?

Can You Use Non Pressure Treated Wood Outside If You Paint It

Most of the time, you would have some possible issues by using raw wood outdoors.

The first issue is raw timber may get muddy. Over time, wood can deteriorate, rot, and produce fungi.

Moist conditions ensure a pleasant breeding ground on untreated timber.

1. Sunlight

When using outdoors, the sun is a big threat to raw timber.

UV light continues with the time to deplete wood oils.

One way to fight against the sun’s destruction is to use the raw board only in shaded areas or areas not penetrated directly by the light.

2. Humidity

Humidity is also a factor you need to pay attention to.

For decks and other horizontally designed projects in particular.

On these surfaces, water always tends to accumulate.

If the air in potentially moist surfaces at a temperature between 32 and 90oF, a perfect storm will cause rotting, fungi, and other decayed wood inside.

To protect your furniture from possible damages by water, you need to use an outdoor sealer like Natural Cedar Exterior Spray, Ready Seal, SEAL-ONCE NANO Penetrating Wood Sealer & Stain, etc. This is a waterproof product that is good for avoiding water infiltration.

untreated lumber for deck

Before deciding on which direction to go with your home decor projects, you have to consider both the pros and cons of each option.

Here are many factors that needed to weight in:

  • Sun and shadow area?
  • Geographic location and natural ranges of temperature?
  • Annually rainfall accumulated
  • Type of timber used
  • Any sealants or other commodities used on?
  • The amount of ground touch the wood has

Overall, in a few short years or quicker, the integrity of the wood will eventually be lost, while your board could still be used for several years.

Please notice that even some cases of using pressurized boards have shown that in 10 years or less, decks can become rotting or expiring problems.

If you use it for projects such as a garden bed, it might be all right to the physical integrity of the wood.

However, if you use it for tasks like a backyard deck, this is an entirely different thing and it would be advised to consider other ways.

Which Species Can Be Used Outdoors?

raw wood outdoor

Your outside projects can be very different depending on the particular kind of wood you are using.

Some sealers do not interact and protect as well as others.

For a longer period of time, cedar, redwood, cypress, white oak, etc. are good options for surviving in outside conditions even if being untreated.

In contrast, pine, alder, hemlock are kind of weak and have higher chances of rotting when left in the outside environment.

However, you can still use these non-pressure treated wood outside if you paint it a protective coat.

Thus, this kind of plant is not highly recommended.

How To Use Non Pressure Treated Wood Outside?

non pressure treated wood outside

These are many options for protecting exterior furniture:

1. Keep it dry

Decay and rot are directly connected to the growth of fungi, and moisture is required for these microorganisms to survive.

Removing fungi from the moisture it needs to live will help to prevent decay.

2. Keep it shaded

The sun will rob wood and bleach, also degrade the natural oils.

Natural chemicals in timber, for example, lignin, become depleted.

Check carefully to avoid direct sunlight to keep the structure out whenever possible.

3. Stable environmental condition

As mentioned above, unstable temperature and humidity can be harmful to your work.

The fungi need a rich supply of oxygen, humidity, and temperature to reproduce and thrive.

When these requirements are met, they convert the timber into a store of food that causes rot and decay.

Control the environment’s temperature and moisture to control the speed of decay.

4. Seasonal furniture

When not in use, you can bring your furniture inside.

In addition, wet springtime or fall weather are told to be the most damage.

You should also choose the species that are suitable for your purposes and outside conditions.

5. Chemical protections

treated wood

While natural weather-resistant lumber is the best alternative for external exposure, it becomes vulnerable to failure at a certain stage.

Only water repellent preservatives, sealers, or paint that include UV protection are required to correctly use the raw board for some sort outdoors.

The preservative over-the-counter is available in transparent or pigmented or dye-containing stain.

If you concern about the risks, applying an oil-based sealant is the best safety option.

Oil based sealants have been suggested as it limits the amount of arsenic, copper, and other harmful compounds accessing the wood’s surface.

6. Applying borate

For works that contain arsenic, you can use the borate option.

Wood that borate pressurized can also be used for interior purposes.

This compound naturally occurs in rocks, water, and living organisms.

Borate treated boards are used as one of the best choices for traditional pressure treatments.

It is a thick substance that can be sprayed by an ordinary hand/tank sprayer when mixed with warm water.

How To Make Untreated Lumber Water-Proof?

wood outdoor fence

There are three safe approaches for waterproofing your building:

  • Using linseed or Tung oil to produce a beautiful and protective hand-rubbed finish.
  • Seal the wood with polyurethane, lacquer, or varnish coating.
  • Simultaneously polish and waterproof timber with a stain-sealant combo.

Definitely, you can use non pressure treated wood outside, however, bear in mind that certain waterproofing approaches are more suitable for interior and exterior items, while others are targeted towards dark or lightweight timber.

Make sure to follow the following guideline for the best finish, no matter which kind of coat you choose.

  • Step 1: Check for the mold or rot for your untreated timber. Make sure that it is in good condition and bears no initial signal of rotting. When non appears, it can be dried and sealed.
  • Step 2: Wash the surface with a wet towel. Using a dry towel to soak as much water as you can.
  • Step 3: Allow the structure to sit dry while keeping it against the weather and ensuring sufficient air ventilation.
  • Step 4: To assist the drying process, do not use fans, air conditioners, or heaters. Slow drying is the best for wood with moisture.
  • Step 5: Take at least three days for your work to dry entirely.
  • Step 6: To avoid the moisture from entering, add a coat of wood sealant on the surface with a paintbrush. Make brush strokes from one end to the other of the board to minimize lap lines.
  • Step 7: Before adding the second coat, let the first coat dry completely for better results. Some will usually prefer the third coat. However, normally, two layers are enough for your structures.

Check out a video on sealing of non processed wood:


Oily rags can burn suddenly, even without being near fire, because it creates heat as the oil dries.

Please take care by using a water bucker while working, drop the towel in the bucket, and continue with another clean towel.

Later, hang rags out separately to rinse.

You can throw them away without risk when they completely dry, but they should not be reused.

Commonly Asked Questions About “Can You Use Non Pressure Treated Wood Outside?”

cheap outdoor wood

1. What Is The Difference Between Treated And Non Treated Wood?

You need to pay attention to the green tint.

Usually, the pressurized one typically has end tags or stamps which show the chemical used in the process.

The color of the timber that is purchased after processed is green and brown.

In comparison, unlike the raw one which has a good natural scent, the processed also has a scent that is oily or chemical.

2. Is Treated Wood Safe?

Yes, when properly used, handled, and disposed of.

Although in the past, some people doubted the toxicity in their structures after being treated.

Today, several formulas like ACQ (alkaline copper quaternary), copper azole, and also arsenic-containing formulas are still used for specialty construction.

Nevertheless, we should install pressurized timbers with care.

When you cut and mold it, please use a dust mask, gloves, and eye cover.

Never burn scraps or sawdust, instead, put them in the trash.

3. Why Is It Important To Put Your Furniture Off The Ground?

When using non pressure treated wood outside, natural fungi that grow in the soil may attack your lumber.

Thus, we use fungal-resistant preservatives on the ground or retention stage.

The table below shows some rules for above ground or ground contact of crafting:

How To Use Non Pressure Treated Wood Outside

Table: courtesy American Wood Protection Association


4. How Do Naturally Durable Species Compare To Treated Ones?

Naturally durable species such as red cedar, cypress, etc. resist decay to some degree, but it also depends.

The amount and type of fungi-toxic chemicals determine the toughness of the timber.

Boards that processed according to CSA requirements show more stable longevity on average than a raw board.

5. How Wet Should Your Board Be To Prepare To Apply Borate?

For successful diffusion of timber, your timber should be at the moisture content of at least 27% (up to 1mm/week, depending on temperatures), but note that this content only makes a slow migration.

When the percentage is higher, faster diffusion occurs.

For example, with humidity of about 40%, the chemical can migrate at a rate of up to 3mm/week.


All of the following content has answered the question that can you use non pressure treated wood outside. However, the kind of timber you want to use for your external work depends entirely on your decision. You can go for pressurized wood if you wish for a project that serves for many years up to 40 years. On the other side, wood that is not processed will typically last shorter, but it still performs well. When using untreated boards, ensure the buildings are secured from harmful UV rays from the sun, waterproofing, and mildew resistance, by observing safety and repair procedures frequently.

Further Reading:

Tags: building materials, rot resistant, resistant wood, outdoor projects, wood preservatives


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