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The Home Depot

How to Prevent Warped Wood

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Carpentry > How to Prevent Warped Wood
How to Prevent Warped Wood

Wood is one of the most commonly used building materials on the planet. Both indoors and out, wood looks good, performs well, and adds value to a property. Unfortunately, many wood installations succumb to splitting and warping over time. If you know how to properly maintain the wood components of your home, however, you can increase their lifespan and even enhance their appearance.

    When dealing with an existing outdoor wood installation, a significant amount of warping may mean that the wood is already too far gone to salvage.
  1. 1.Prevent Warping in Outdoor Wood

    Nowhere is wood warping a more pronounced problem than it is in outdoor wood installations, and because the average cost of a wood deck installation is $10,350 according to the Remodeling 2011–12 Cost vs. Value Report (, it is definitely in every homeowner's best interests to protect their investment. Traditional outdoor wood that is sealed once every year will repel water and last longer than wood that is simply left to the elements; some composite and tropical hardwood installations, on the other hand, will never need to be sealed. It is very important, therefore, to ask your contractor about the care he or she recommends any new outdoor wood installation should have. .


    When dealing with an existing outdoor wood installation, a significant amount of warping may mean that the wood is already too far gone to salvage. It is important to note, however, that mild or even moderate warping can often be fixed at a fraction of the cost of replacement. When structural stability is not an issue, damaged outdoor wood surfaces can often be sanded or stripped and then sealed, giving them a fresh new look and adding years to their lifespan.

  2. 2.Prevent Warping in Indoor Wood

    Of course, warping and splitting in traditional outdoor wood installations cannot be avoided indefinitely. Indoors, however, properly installed wood can last for generations with proper care. True hardwood flooring is one of the most desirable installations in the home improvement industry, and protecting this asset is certainly worth the effort. Although an extremely tough layer of urethane that requires minimal maintenance often protects newer hardwood flooring, many older hardwood floors are sealed with a wax finish that requires special care. Most homeowners already know what kind of sealant covers their hardwood flooring, but if you have recently moved and are not sure what kind of finish you have, it is important to find out, as products meant for one finish may cause stains or damage to another.


    Because indoor wood is not typically subjected to things like rain or direct sunlight, the kind of severe warping and splitting commonly seen on older outdoor wood installations should not occur inside. If significant warping or splitting is noticed on indoor wood installations, it’s often a sign of improper installation, moisture leaks/build-up, or both. This situation can get out of hand quickly and cost you thousands if left unchecked. Severely warped indoor wood may be hiding other problems, too, like plumbing issues, mold, or damaged ductwork.

  3. 3.Choosing the Right Wood for the Job

    If you already know that a woodpecker is present and you can readily identify its favorite spot(s), you can sometimes convince it to move along by denying it access to its most-frequented hangouts. Fill in holes that have already been created, and protect the area by blocking it off with plastic netting, flashing, or metal screen material.

  4. 4.Woodpecker-free by Design

    When entering a remodeling or building project that deals with exposed wood, one of the most effective things you can do to prevent warping is choose the right wood for the job. A deck or fence made of ipe, for example, will last for years with little to no maintenance, even in extremely moisture-rich environments. Cedar siding, which is naturally moisture-resistant, can perform well in environments where temperatures and moisture levels fluctuate dramatically (like New England) without the aid of paint, but will eventually turn grey over time without some sort of UV coating. Every wood has its pros and cons, so it's important to research your specific project before you decide on a wood variety.

  5. 5.In a Nutshell

    Whether you're dealing with decks, fences, flooring, or even furniture, the best thing you can do to prevent warped wood is to ask yourself these three questions: What kind of wood is it? What kind of finish does it have? What techniques do professionals recommend to care for the combination of the two? Answering these questions correctly will not only keep your indoor or outdoor wood looking great, it will lengthen its lifespan and save you money in the long-run by lengthening the amount of time between replacements and repairs.

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