Storing Firewood: Keep Covered or Uncovered?

  • Thread starter CraigHardy
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CraigHardy

CraigHardy

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  • #1
I'm getting many mixed signals out there from very experienced wood burners. I've read posts from numerous forums that have stated that keeping stacked firewood outside uncovered is the way to go. Their logic has been that the sun and wind will access the wood a lot better uncovered than covered. They swear that their wood burns wonderfully. Then there's the other side that claims that there's no substitute for keeping their stacked firewood covered. One guy said that he cut down a few trees and stored have of the split wood in a barn and the rest outside uncovered. He said that, hands down, the wood in the barn burned a lot better than the wood outside. So he's saying that firewood that's kept covered is much better than not.

So which is it? I've got a lot of firewood outside and I would like it to dry as quickly as possible. Should I stack it and cover it or leave it uncovered throughout the winter?
 
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CampFireJack

CampFireJack

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  • #2
You can't leave your firewood uncovered. That's stupid. Sure, if it's during the months of June, July, August, and September, have at it. Those are the driest. But do you really think you'll be seasoning and drying your firewood during the rest of the year by having it rained on and snowed on. Think about just the snow for a minute. Once it snows, that snow will completely cover the top layer of wood. It'll also fall on the ground around your pile. If you get a two foot snowstorm (wherever you live), half of your pile will be potentially covered. It's best to store your stacked firewood in a well ventilated wood shed. This way, no snow or rain will continually soak your wood and the air will be able to flow through it all. The air is the most important part of the mix.

Back when I was a kid, my father had me stack our wood in long rows next to a six foot tall wooden fence. The airflow wasn't great and we never covered the wood. I can remember going outside to gather some in the mid winter and I had to pull the pieces apart because there was ice holding them together. Once I brought some loads inside, we had to let each piece thaw out. It was the worst way to do things.

These days, I like to cover my outdoor piles with some old plywood I have laying around. I rip each piece so it's 2'x8' and I lay the pieces on top of the piles. This way, the air and sun and all the rest can access the pile and everything can season just perfectly.
 
KodyWallice

KodyWallice

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  • #3
The consensus is that you should only cover the top of any pile of firewood. If you were to get a tarp and cover the entire pile (sides and all), it would probably rot. Firewood rots quickly if no air can flow past it. Firewood that's tightly packed into rows and then completely covered with plastic tarps are notorious for rotting.

Use a tarp or boards on top. Whatever you have laying around. When it comes to drying, it's the air flow that does it, not the sun. People like to say it's the sun, but it's really the air. For years I've seasoned all my firewood in my open garage and it's dried just fine. Granted, I've got an old garage that's got some wonderful air flow. By sun or shade, if the wood pile has air flowing through it, it'll dry out.

Firewood can get pretty wet from the rain and snow and still season properly. You can keep your wood out in the elements for most of the drying time. Just be sure to store it inside a wood shed or something with good air flow for a few months before you intend on burning it. This is usually September or October.

Bottom line: covered on the top is best and will give you the driest wood possible, but if you don't cover your wood at all during seasoning, be sure to move it to a covered location for a while before burning it. It'll be nice and dry when it comes time to burn.
 
CaptainDan

CaptainDan

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  • #4
Your goal should be to keep your stacked firewood outside for about a year to dry out, covered or uncovered, and then move it into a vented wood shed or garage to dry out a few months before you begin to burn. Ideally, you'd want to keep it covered outside with some plywood or corrugated steel roofing or something to keep the rain and snow off it. You would think a few months for that final drying would be enough, but you'd be surprised at how that wet can absorb into the wood. I've seen experiments where two pieces of almost identical wood was compared. One was left outside uncovered and one outside covered. The covered stuff was much drier, even after both were sheltered for months in a shed. So don't count on that final few months at all. All your wood should ideally be covered all the time. Just the top though. Never the sides.
 
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