Learning how to stack firewood properly is a necessity if you don’t want your firewood to become moldy, wet, or home to the local mice or rat population. While stacking firewood may seem like a simple task it’s important that you do it the right way. When you stack firewood incorrectly it can lead to snake bites, termite infestation, fungus growth, or mold. While you can’t prevent all of these problems, there are some simple steps you can take to ensure that your firewood remains dry, safe, and as clean as possible.
The Principles of Stacking Firewood
There are some basic principles to stacking firewood that can deliver the best results. I’ll discuss these techniques below so you can choose a method that works for your storage situation and firewood volume.
Choosing the Right Location
When you’re searching for a place to stack and store your firewood, you’ll need to find a spot that has good sun exposure. Your wood stack should remain dry throughout the summer months so that it will burn well during the winter. Stacking wood where it has full sun exposure can help this process move faster. You’ll also want to situate the stack of firewood so that wind can blow through it. Good air circulation around wood can also help it dry faster.
Stacking Wood Safely
When you stack firewood in a wildfire-prone area, it should be stacked a minimum of 30 feet away from your home or any other structures. This can minimize the risk of a wildfire catching your woodpile on fire which could then catch your house, garage, shed, or barn on fire. If you don’t live in an area that’s prone to wildfires then you can stack it closer to your home. However, it is still recommended that the woodpile be stacked a minimum of 5 feet away from a house. This can prevent termites and other insects from finding their way into your house.
It’s also recommended that you situate your woodpile away from any areas where children or dogs play. When firewood has been stacked properly it will not topple over. However, accidents do happen, especially if dogs, cats, or children play or climb around the woodpile.
Elevate Your Wood Pile
Ideally, your firewood should be stacked 3-5 inches off the ground. Stacking firewood on the ground can cause a variety of problems.
The first problem is a lack of airflow. When you stack firewood directly on the ground there is no air circulation around the bottom of the woodpile. This can cause any green wood to remain wet which makes it difficult to burn.
Moisture is another issue. When firewood is stacked directly on the ground moisture can wick up from the earth and into the wood. Moisture can lead to fungus or mold growth and can speed up the rotting process.
Termites love wood. If your firewood is stacked directly on the ground it will give termites and other pests a direct path to enter your woodpile.
Additionally, when you carry wood into your home that has been infested with termites, the termites will come out of the wood and crawl around your home.
Firewood Rack/Pressure Treated Wood
There are many go-to methods you can use to keep your firewood off the ground. For example, you can use a firewood rack, or you can place pressure-treated 2 x 4 lumber on the ground, then stack the firewood on top of them, or you can use old pallets to stack your logs.
The Best Way to Stack Firewood to Promote Drainage
If you’re not able to store your firewood off the ground, there are other ways that you can help keep the bottom of the wood dry. For example, you can place some gravel on the ground underneath the woodpile, which can promote drainage. Additionally, you can place your woodpile on paving stone, brick, or concrete. Stacking your woodpile like this allows for improved airflow around the bottom of the woodpile and also helps prevent moisture from wicking up from the ground into your logs. It will also prevent termite infestation. However, you should keep in mind that firewood can stain concrete.
How to Stack Wood Properly
Tossing your wood into a pile doesn’t allow it to dry properly. The logs in the center of the woodpile can remain green or moist. Green wood doesn’t put out as much heat when it’s burned as dry firewood does. Green wood can also cause a high amount of creosote to build up in a chimney. Creosote, if not removed from a chimney, can result in a house fire. Before you burn wood, make sure you test it to determine if it’s properly seasoned. You can do this by using a moisture meter. A woodpile is also more prone to rodent and snake infestations. This is because an improperly stacked woodpile can give them a great place to hide.
To stack your logs correctly, follow these rules:
- Instead of trying to pack the firewood tightly together to save space, stack firewood loosely. This allows air to circulate between every piece of wood, causing it to dry evenly and quickly.
- Stack the wood with the cut ends exposed. The cut ends are where the majority of moisture is released. Keeping these ends exposed can help firewood season properly during the summer, preventing it from absorbing moisture.
Keeping Your Wood Stack Dry
Stack firewood properly so unseasoned or green wood can dry out and be of use during the winter months. If you’re trying to dry out your wood, avoid completely covering it with a tarp. When you cover the entire woodpile, you can trap moisture under the tarp which will prevent the wood from drying out properly.
When it rains, using a tarp will cause the rain to run off the top and not soak into the wood. You can also cover the top of the woodpile using tin roofing or another type of similar material.
Stack Firewood with Bark Facing Up
If you don’t have anything you can use to cover the woodpile you can turn the top layer of the wood bark side up. Doing so will cause the water to run off the top of the wood, instead of penetrating it, ensuring the logs have enough air. The open-air will quickly dry out the wood.
Sunshine and Prevailing Winds Can Help Season a Firewood Stack Faster
As I mentioned above, your firewood should be protected from the top and placed in a location that allows prevailing wind to move through every piece, helping to season it faster.
Why You Need to Season Firewood
Seasoned wood is dry wood. Seasoning wood is basically the process of drying out firewood during the spring and summer months so that it’s ready to burn in the fall and winter. Wind and sun do an excellent job of seasoning firewood, so stacking your logs in a sunny spot, stacking the wood loosely, and allowing wind to reach it, will ensure your logs dry out so you’ll have plenty of seasoned firewood ready to go, once the weather turns cold again.
You can also stack your wood in a woodshed to keep it dry. Storing logs in a woodshed allows you to stack them to promote airflow through the wood while keeping snow and rain off of your woodpile.
Many pros believe that using a firewood rack is the best way to stack your firewood since it promotes proper ventilation. A firewood rack is a type of enclosure where cut logs can be stored. A rack allows you to properly store your firewood as it gradually dries. The rack should be elevated and the firewood should still have a cover on the top to protect it from rain and dew. With a rack, you can easily stack wood to allow seasoning and air circulation.
Wood Stacking Styles
There are many different methods that you can use to stack your firewood that can actually be aesthetically appealing. Of course, the main reason you should stack your firewood is to keep it dry and ready to burn, otherwise, wood that is not covered and protected will eventually rot.
The methods I’ve included below allow you to stack your wood so your entire stack can get as much sun as possible. These methods also have an artistic flair to them, which is what makes them so popular.
Below, I’ll go over a couple of popular Artistic methods for stacking firewood.
As I mentioned earlier, using a couple of two-by-fours that have been pressure treated can provide a great place to set your firewood on so that it doesn’t become moist due to ground moisture seepage.
Create Towers to Elevate and Store Your Log Pile Properly
- For a little style, you can build a tower on one end starting with four pieces of split wood laid parallel to each other. Place four more pieces laid perpendicular on top of the ones underneath to stack wood in this manner, alternating directions until the stack is about 5 to 6 levels high. Next, you can build another tower in the same manner at the other end of the base. These wood towers will work as supports to hold the firewood stack between them. Stack the split logs between both of the towers and leave some space between them to promote air movement; it will help the logs dry out faster.
- You can keep stacking the wood to the height of the end towers. If the logs seem stable, then you can add to the end towers as well and make your stack even taller. You can choose a height that you’re comfortable with depending on how much wood you have. Some people choose to stack their logs up to six feet high.
German Firewood Stacking Method
Many people believe the German method is the best way to stack firewood more efficiently while protecting the logs from rot and pests so they’re ready for your wood-burning fireplace come fall.
- The German method is designed to promote airflow from the outside of the stack and into the center of the woodpile. The location where you’ll stack the wood should be flat, measuring 6 feet by 6 feet.
- Hammer a wooden or metal stake in the center of the cleared area. Next, measure 3 feet out from the wood or metal stake in different directions, marking the ground with a circle. Place the logs along the circular line that you have marked around the stake. The logs must touch end to end, creating a circle. This is the edge of the woodpile. Place logs around the circle with one end touching the wood in the circle and the other end of the log pointed toward the stake. Now, you’ll have the first outer layer of firewood and the firewood should be sitting at an angle toward the center of the circle. Place the logs in the center in an upright position and continue to stack each piece until you’ve reached your desired height.
Your Wood Stacking Questions Answered
When it comes to stacking firewood there are many variations you can try. The goal is to keep the logs off the ground, promote airflow and ensure that your logs remain dry and ready for burning.
Below, I’ll answer some of the many common questions people have regarding firewood care and stacking techniques.
Do I Need to Use 2x4s that Have Been Pressure Treated?
No, you don’t have to use 2x4s that have been pressure treated. However, wood that’s been pressure treated is designed specifically for ground contact and lasts much longer than logs that have not been pressure treated. Keep in mind, if you use pallets, they will rot eventually, so your logs may end up on the ground at some point.
Should I Cover My Firewood Pile?
There are several ways you can cover firewood. Some people will use tarps. However, the tarp shouldn’t go all the way to the ground. Instead, it should only cover the top of your woodpile. By only covering the top, you will allow the air to flow freely through the wood to dry it faster.
Can You Prevent Termites from Getting into a Woodpile?
Termites live in dirt, creating tunnels to their food, which is located above ground. The main colony, which contains the queen, remains underground, but the termite workers will travel to a firewood pile. If you bring wood inside that contains termites it’s unlikely that the termites will infest your home. However, if you stack firewood too close to your home, they can use the wood stack as a bridge of sorts to your home. This can cause an infestation. Make sure you keep your woodpile stacked as far from your home as possible.
Should I Stack Wet Wood?
Yes, you can stack green or wet wood. Stacking wood is the best way to season it. By stacking firewood correctly, you’ll allow air to flow around the wood which will dry it out faster.
Does Wood Dry in a Pile?
Given enough time, wood will dry in a pile. However, it won’t dry as fast as if it were stacked properly. The airflow around the wood is restricted if it’s placed in a random pile. Stacking wood properly allows air to flow around the wood freely, speeding up the drying process.
Is it Okay for Wood to Get Wet?
You want your firewood to stay totally dry. If you live in an area that gets frequent rainfall then you’ll need to cover the wood in some way. The best way to stack firewood to keep it dry is using a tarp, shed, or rack.
Can I Store Firewood Inside My House?
I don’t recommend stacking firewood inside a house. However, in the winter once the wood has been seasoned, some people do like to keep one- or two days’ worth of firewood in the home so they don’t have to keep going outside in freezing temperatures to get wood every few hours.
How Long Does Stacked Firewood Last?
Firewood has no after expiration date. Once the wood has been seasoned you can store it for several years or even decades. However, you’ll want to ensure that it’s stored off the ground and in a dry location.
Can I Keep Firewood in the Garage?
Some people like to keep their firewood in their garage. If this is what you want to do, make sure that you inspect the wood before you bring it inside. You’ll want to check the wood and make sure it’s not infested with ants, termites, or other insects. It’s not recommended that you use pesticides on your firewood to kill insects. This is because you will be burning the wood in your home and you don’t want to expose yourself and your family to toxic smoke. When you store the wood in a garage make sure that you keep it away from any potential fire hazards.
Can I Keep Firewood on My Deck?
You may have seen a beautiful picture of a rustic mountain cabin with firewood stacked neatly on a deck. While this makes a cabin more aesthetically pleasing, it’s not usually recommended. Firewood stacked on the deck can be a major fire hazard. It can also be a great place for snakes, rodents, or bugs to hide. However, for a more convenient way to keep wood on hand during the winter, some people will bring a large amount of firewood and store it on their decks so they do not have to go all the way out to the woodpile to get wood on a daily basis. I recommend keeping one to two days worth of firewood on your deck and no more.
The best way to stack wood can be a matter of personal preference, the amount of wood you need to store, and how much space you have to work with. It can also depend on what part of the country you live in and whether or not you experience heavy rainfall.
Keep your firewood off the ground to prevent moisture from seeping into the wood and to keep insects, snakes, and rodents out. Learning how to stack wood the right way can prevent termite infestation, burning wet wood, and ensures you have enough wood to keep you and your family warm once the temperature drops.
Make sure you have your wood stacked carefully to allow air to flow through the wood to dry it faster and keep it dry. Seasoned wood burns the best. Partially cover it with a tarp if you expect heavy rainfall during the season. Store your firewood away from your home or any other structures to prevent housefires, termite, or rodent infestation. By following these simple tips and recommendations, you can create a beautiful, sturdy, dry woodpile that will last you all winter long.