Can You Use Non Pressure Treated Wood Outside? Easy Tips On Using Non Pressure Treated Wood

Image of a non pressure treated wood that you can use outside

There are so many external wood structures that you are likely to come across; you could be the owner of some such as wooden decks and shades. Or, you might interact with some as you carry out your daily activities such as picnic tables. Considering how harsh the external condition is, most people find it easy to build with pressure treated wood. 

One question, though, is, can you use non pressure treated wood outside? Yes, you can use non pressure treated wood out. However, you need to take some protective measures to ensure that these structures can serve you for as long as possible. You could use outdoor wood sealers, stains, and paints to protect your untreated wood when you use them outside.

If you use untreated wood outside and fail to accord your structure necessary protection, you might end up running into several problems, such as incurring extra costs in trying to repair the damage.

What are the Dangers of Using Non Pressure Treated Wood Outside?

If you choose to use non pressure treated wood outside, you need to ask yourself of possible hurdles that you are likely to face in the process. Most of these challenges that you will face while using non pressure treated wood outside are only going to devalue your structures. They include:


The first and the bigger problem is water, as soon as your wood gets wet, anything can happen to it. It can rot, decay, and have molds growing on it as time passes. 

To protect your non pressure treated wood from possible damages by water, you need to use an outdoor wood sealer like Ready Seal, Natural Cedar Exterior Stain, and Sealer for WoodThis product is waterproofing and will do an excellent job against water infiltration.

The Sunlight

Much as the sunlight has numerous benefits, it poses some great dangers to both pressure treated and non pressure treated wood outside. The sunlight produces ultraviolet rays. These rays are dangerous such that they will first drain the oils that are present on the wood.

Once the oil is eliminated from your wooden structure, it will start losing color and fade entirely with time. So, one way of protecting your wood against the sun is by using stains with UV light blockers. One such stain is DEFY Extreme.

Wood Species that You Can Use Outdoor

Even though we encourage the use of pressure treated wood outdoors, some wood species will thrive in the outside environment even if left untreated. Such wood types are:

  • Redwood
  • Cedar
  • White Oak
  • Cypress

These wood types have a unique ability to work well with protective agents such as sealers, which makes them perfect for exterior usage.

On the contrary, wood species such as pine, alder, and hemlock are weak and have higher rates of rotting if left untreated and used on the outside environment.

How Long Can Non Pressure Treated Wood Last Outside?

Well, this can take from between 2-5 years. This duration depends on factors such as how well do you maintain your structures, exposure to sunlight, where the outdoor is the wood used, and the climatic condition of a region.

Where do you intend to use your non pressure treated wood? If it is for projects like wood vegetable gardens, you’d expect the wood to deteriorate very fast, and it might not worry you a lot considering the small budget involved on wood for gardens. 

If you were to use the non pressure treated wood on decks, it would not be an excellent move. First, it might not last more than 5 years due to water, infestation by microorganisms, termites, and other factors.

We have seen cases where pressure treated wood lasts less than 10 years when used to create decks. If the non pressure treated wood experiences similar conditions, they would not last long.

Can You Use Non Pressure Treated Pine Outside? And How Long Will It Last?

Yes, you can use a non pressure treated pine for your outdoor projects even though it will not serve you for a longer duration like the non treated redwood. We expect a non treated pine to last between 5-10 years when used outside.

How Long Does Non Pressure Treated Cedar Last Outside?

You would expect non pressure treated cedar fence, for example, to last 15 and 30 years, especially if you take good care of it in terms of maintenance practices. In the case of pressure treated ones, a fence made out of cedar could serve you for up to 40 years

How Can You Weatherproof Non Pressure Treated Wood?

We have tested and proven three significant ways that you can use to ensure that your non treated wood remains weatherproof. They are:

  • First, you could adopt the use of linseed or Tung oil to form a protective and beautiful hand-rubbed finish on the surface of the wood.
  • Another option would be the use of varnish, polyurethane, or lacquer finish.
  • You could also settle for semi transparent deck stains as a way of making your non pressure treated wood waterproof.

How Do You Tell the Difference Between Treated and Non Pressure Treated Wood?

Newbies and even some experienced woodworkers still find it hard to differentiate between the pressure treated and the non pressure treated wood. All that you need to pay attention to is the green tint. 

Usually, the pressure treated lumber bears end tags or stamps that identify the chemical used in the treatment process. The wood can have a green or brown color acquired during the treatment.

Furthermore, treated wood often has an oily or chemical smell, unlike the non treated ones, which have a pleasant natural scent. can smell oily or chemical as opposed to a pleasant natural smell of non treated wood

How Long Does Non Pressure Treated 2×4 Last Outside?

Many factors determine how long a non pressure treated 2X 4 would last in the outdoor environment. However, one average, the non treated 2×4, can last about two years until it starts to rot. Therefore, you intend to use non pressure treated 2×4 for your exterior project; the time it lasts will depend on many factors such as water, exposure to sunlight, and a lot more.

How To Seal Non Pressure Treated Wood

  • If you have non pressure treated wood, especially the one that you intend to use outside and looking to prolong its service life, then seal it. Before you start your sealing process, you should ensure that the wood is in good condition and bears no initial signs of rotting.
  • As you prepare for your wood sealing projects, ensure that the wood is dry. If you are confident that indeed it is dry, then go ahead and clean the wood. Allow the wooden surface some time to dry thoroughly and have no air trapped inside.
  • After about 48-72 hours, your wood should be dried and ready to accept the top sealing coat. Use the right application methods such as a brush to apply the sealer over the surface of the wood.

Note: The overall best wood sealer for exterior use is the Ready Seal Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer. Most of our readers have had the best experience using it as a sealing formula.

  • Allow the first coat of the sealer on the wood surface enough time to dry. Afterward, add the second layer over the first and allow it time to cure before you can start using your surface. Usually, some people would prefer up to the third coat. However, two layers are enough to protect your wooden structures.

Below’s a video on sealing of non treated wood:

How Do You Tell The Difference Between Deck Stain and Sealer?

There are cases where you will find that a formula functions both as a stain and a sealer. However, you can choose to use the two independently, So how do you differentiate the two? Stains play an essential role in changing the appearance of the deck through color change.

As for sealers, they are mostly transparent and do not alter the color of the wood. Sealers give wood surfaces some level of beautiful shine; they offer protective functionality more than decorative ones.


Can you use non pressure treated wood outside? 

Yes, you can use it on exterior projects. However, it entirely depends on you the type of wood that you want to use for your exterior woodworking projects. If you desire a project that will serve you for several years, say up to 40 years, then you should go for pressure treated wood. Non pressure treated wood would usually last less than 10 years, but they still do the work well.

If you use not treated wood, ensure that you follow protective and maintenance practices to keep your structures safe from the dangerous ultraviolet rays from the sun, waterproofing as well as mildew resistance.

If you have an interest or have used non pressure treated wood in the exterior environment, let us know of your experience. You can also tell us what you think about this post and even ask questions in the comment section.

Image of a woodworker wearing hearing protectors for woodworking

Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.