High Humidity Care for Your Outdoor Wood
Is your outdoor wood split, rough, discolored, and ugly? Living in an area with high humidity can wreck your deck, fence, and other outdoor areas. However, you don’t have to simply live with the damage and keep replacing those wood pieces. There is a way to beat high humidity, and the sooner you start the better.
Humidity is a natural phenomenon, and everyone knows how powerful nature can be. Sometimes, the best way to fight nature is with something that’s been man-made. Here’s how to do it:
Copper - Wood is commonly treated with copper chemical compounds to preserve it through a variety of weather conditions. Most often, wood is treated with CCA, chromated copper arsenate. Buy pre-treated lumber that’s already coated with copper compounds to keep it resistant to high humidity conditions. Applying your own copper-based treatment can be a bit of a lengthy process. You have to paint the copper chemical solution on much in the same way you’d apply stain. CCA has the added benefit of preventing UV damage, which protects wood from fading. Don’t be alarmed by CCA-treated wood; it’s supposed to have that slightly greenish look, which you can cover with stain.
Water Repellent - Humidity is essentially moisture, and that’s why water-repellent is such an effective wood treatment for your outdoor areas. Water-repellents are usually wax or oil-based. These materials naturally repel water. The moisture beads up and rolls off the wood, rather than pooling up and sinking into the grain. When water penetrates wood, it causes swelling, splitting, and all sorts of ugly problems you don’t want. Look for water-repellent chemicals made with fungicide for further protection against humidity. The fungicide will prevent the growth of mold and other bacteria that will ultimately harm your wood.
Chemical treatments are a great way to protect wood and keep it looking nicer longer, but that’s just one part of the process. Buying chemically-treated wood or adding the chemicals yourself is a good start. Now, you've got to finish that wood.
Do it with paint, stain, or a clear sealer of some type.
Paint - Paint encapsulates the wood in a coating that effectively shuts out the elements. It allows you to literally make your wood look however you like, but it does need to be reapplied.
Stain - A simple stain with a built-in sealant is an easy way to protect your wood and get it looking the color you like, while maintaining the character of the wood. It takes less maintenance than paint.
Sealer - Clear sealers allow the natural wood to shine through without leaving the wood open to damaging natural elements. A finishing coat of polyurethane or something comparable will keep the wood sealed against penetrating humidity and sneaky moisture that gets into the cracks of your deck, balcony, siding, and outdoor furnishings. Marine grade varnish sounds heavy duty, but beware - it's designed to be very strong, but to need a lot of upkeep. Unless you're protecting a boat, go for the poly.
Well-finished wood is resistant to moisture and mildew, which is exactly what it needs to be in order to fight the humidity. Nature has a wearing effect on wood, but you can combat its natural power with the right blend of chemicals. Even chemically-treated wood can still look natural. You’ll still see the wood grain and anything else you want to see, but you’ll get to see it a whole lot longer because your wood is treated and ready to take on the weather.