Best Practices for Wood Maintenance: Wood Moisture Removal Methods

Knowing how to remove moisture from wood is a great way to help preserve it.

As you will agree with me, wood adds personality and style to your homestead.

But moisture can have detrimental effects on wood. The effects could be dark stains, among others which makes the structure buckle in the long run.

Fortunately, you can save lumber by drying it. Here’s you will find the best Wood Moisture Removal Methods

The first step is to move everything from the project, dry it using a wet vacuum, and ventilate the workspace to increase airflow.

Next, heat the lumber and remove moisture deep inside the porous surface with a dehumidifier. 

Also, ensure you fix the moisture source and waterproof the surface.

Using surface drying and air circulation strategies guarantees wood moisture removal.

However, knowing the details on how to go about the process goes a long way.

Read the guide below for more insight on wood moisture and how to minimize and fix water damage.

What are Acceptable Moisture Levels in Wood?

The acceptable wood moisture levels range between six to eight percent for interior woodworking.

On the other hand, experts recommend a nine to 14 percent water level for exterior wood or envelope components in constructed assemblies.

Acceptable moisture content depends on the lumber’s final use and the average relative humidity.

We have two primary techniques for measuring wood moisture content. They include moisture meters and oven-dry testing.

  • Moisture Meter Testing

Moisture Meter In How to Use a Wood Moisture MeterThis technique is the fastest way to measure wood moisture content accurately.

Moreover, you’ll find two main categories of wood moisture meters: pin-type and pinless.

Pin-type Moisture Meters use penetrating electrodes and electrical resistance to determine the wood’s moisture level.

In addition, water is a good electricity conductor, while wood is a poor one, making it easy to observe electrical current resistance.

Please note that dryer wood generates more resistance than wetter one.

These accessories are user-friendly.

First, insert the pins into the lumber and ensure they align with the grain, not across it.

Next, turn on the moisture meter. The current will move from pin to pin and determine the encountered resistance.

Conversely, Pinless Moisture Meters are not penetrating and determine moisture content using a non-damaging electromagnetic sensor.

Also, the device provides a better picture of the wood’s moisture level since it scans the entire surface.

Better still, it covers a more extensive section than pin-type meters.

Pinless moisture meters also do not leave damaging holes in the lumber. Therefore, they are excellent for expensive wood floors.

Finally, these tools are easier to use than their counterparts. Press the scanning plate against the lumber, turn on the meter, and read.

  • Oven Dry Testing

Oven dry testing is an old strategy for checking wood moisture levels. Further, although it is time-consuming, you will get accurate results.

Place the wood in a special kiln or oven and check its weight periodically.

The drying process begins when the sample’s weight stops changing. Thus, keep comparing your readings.

However, we have a few drawbacks associated with the technique.

For instance, it takes a long time, even hours, to deliver an accurate reading.

But still, the drying process should be slow. Otherwise, the wood will burn, and the test results will be rendered worthless.

Also, oven-dry testing may render the lumber unusable. The kiln may dry the wood to an inoperable level.

Another con with drying the wood is that you need a special oven or kiln. Most DIYers do not own an oven.

Woodworkers need to understand how lumber interacts with moisture, regardless of being a hobbyist or wood flooring expert.

This way, they can determine quickly when the wood is ready and ideal for use.

Lumber is hygroscopic. It loses or gains moisture as relative humidity changes.

Further, these varying humidity levels cause the wood to shrink and expand. 

As a result, the lumber may not deliver sturdy structures.

We say wood reaches its equilibrium moisture content when it neither loses nor gains atmospheric moisture.

How to Remove Moisture from Wood? 

Generally, freshly cut lumber has a lot of moisture.

Also, although this internal moisture evaporates, the process takes some time.

Therefore, woodworkers consider speeding it up using various techniques.

Most unfinished wood you find on the market is a kiln-drying product.

The procedure reduces the lumber’s moisture content to about eight percent.

As a result, the material does not suffer from moisture-related issues like buckling and warping.

However, manufacturers dry most building materials down to 15 percent moisture content.

Thus, you’ll have to wait for them to dry or fasten the process.

Wood moisture levels always vary and are never constant.

In addition, whether kiln-dried or freshly cut, wood consistently interacts with atmospheric moisture.

Thereby, kiln-dried lumber does not mean it has lost its moisture absorption ability.

Moreover, the material will soak in and release moisture until it balances with the surrounding air.

How to Draw Moisture Out of Wood Floors

The first step is to clear the wood floor. Remove carpets, furniture, rugs, and anything else on the surface.

Besides, clearing the space prevents water, mold, and mildew spread.

Also, place slats and blankets in an empty area if you find moisture in them. You can use fans to help them dry quicker.

There is no point in cleaning wet wood if you’ll put soaked materials on it.

Instead of fixing the problem, you’d be causing more rot in two to three weeks.

Next, follow the procedure below for a satisfactory outcome.

  • Remove Moisture Using a Wet Vacuum

image of the best shop vac for woodworking in useWet shop vacuums help remove surface moisture. They help to eliminate water puddles on the wood.

But they are not the best option for deep-set spills and mildew.

Work from one end to another, ensuring you do not step into the water.

Otherwise, you’ll push it into more porous wood surfaces.

In addition, failure to observe the necessary precautions only furthers the damage and complicates the cleaning process.

Work slowly to remove as much moisture as possible. You need two rounds to get every drop.

Alternatively, toss a few towels into the water puddle. Let them absorb it for about ten to 15 minutes.

However, please avoid leaving the towels too long, or they will push the water further into the lumber.

  • Utilize Floor and Ceiling Fans

Engage floor fans and ventilate the surface after removing puddled water.

In addition, turn on the ceiling fans to promote the room’s optimal airflow.

Open windows as it helps to remove everything on the wood. Thereby, you can dig deeper into the water issue.

You do not need to go past this step if there is no wood rot or moisture below the surface.

So, conduct a thorough investigation to ensure no water is underneath. Otherwise, you will risk long-term decomposition.

  • Heat the Wood

Adding some heat to a wet wood floor dries it much quicker. Further, the process also dries the water below the surface.

Although the heat will not go deep into the lumber, it is worth trying. You’ll also remove mold and mildew.

A few tools to use when heating wet wooden surfaces include:

  • Space Heaters. These appliances various room areas, including ceilings, furniture, walls, and floors.
  • Blowdryer. Use this device for small surfaces like dry planks, patches, and slats. However, it may not be the best accessory for wooden floors and big rooms.
  • House heater. Turn on the house heater if all else fails. It elevates the ambient temperature and increases the airflow.
  • Position a Dehumidifier Nearby

Dehumidifiers remove moisture deep within the lumber floor.

You can use them in garages, bedrooms, closets, and other spaces with high humidity.

Moreover, the appliances prevent mold and mildew if you change water tanks often.

Dehumidifiers should always be among your cleaning tools, whether you use them to dry or clean soaked wooden materials.

Place the appliances at the room’s center for the best outcome.

But position them close to the wet area when working on small areas.

  • Remove Rotten Lumber

Removing wood moisture is futile if you leave the damage behind. Hence, remove drywall and wooden boards if necessary.

In addition, hire a professional team to examine and remove wood rot when you do not know how to spot it.

Worse still, mold and mildew are dangerous. Thus, it is best to pay for expert services to guarantee safety.

Usually, wood rot features moldy odors and is brittle. Also, the lumber is so weak that you can break it with your hands.

Moreover, ceilings, floors, and walls cave due to wood rot.

Thus, the last thing you want is for the structures to break and hurt someone.

Lastly, identify new and undamaged wood and remove it from the area after careful examination.

  • Locate the Problem’s Source

Determine what caused the water damage after completing the above steps.

Further, please do not repair or cover the area until you can stop the problem from recurring.

Dripping ceilings, rain, leaking copper pipes, and forgotten spills cause long-term damage and worsen over time.

Also, mold only needs small amounts of water to spread and significantly damage the structure.

Humidity is another common cause of water damage.

Thus, woodworkers living in humid areas should use dehumidifiers throughout the year.

Remember, moisture puddles and grows mold beneath the surface.

And locating the issue lets you tackle it before it causes more harm.

  • Add New Lumber If Necessary

Fix the moisture problem source and add wood boards to cover the damage. Also, ensure you follow the local building codes.

Call the city council or construction companies when you doubt where to start.

However, these issues are not necessary if you are repairing furniture. You only need them when repairing the house.

  • Waterproof the Wood

Apply boiled linseed oil with a soft bristle paintbrush after the wooden floor dries.

Further, consider using waterproof paint on colored lumber surfaces.

Wood wax also comes in handy when sealing planks and is an extra precaution.

How to Get Moisture Out off a Wood Table

First, examine the color of the water stain before removing it from the wood table.

White stains occur when the moisture is in the lumber’s finish. Here, clean the surface to rectify the issue.

On the other, dark water stains show that the water is already in the wood. As a result, you need to refinish the surface.

Some tough water stains need a combination of cleaning techniques.

So, experiment with various methods till you get the desired outcome.

Fortunately, most recommended water stain removals are common household ingredients. For instance:

  • Mayonnaise

The oil in mayonnaise displaces the moisture in the water stain and rectifies cloudy residues in the wood finish.

Use a paper towel and dab the formula onto the water ring. Then, let it settle for a few hours or overnight.

In addition, keep the surface covered throughout.

Later, wipe the mayonnaise with a clean rag and finish by polishing. And voila! Your surface is ready for use.

  • Vinegar and Olive Oil Mixture

Mix equal vinegar and olive oil parts in a small bowl. Then, apply the mixture with a clean rag.

Wipe in the wood grain direction until the stain goes. And finish by wiping with a clean, dry towel.

Vinegar helps remove the stain, whereas olive oil serves as a furniture finish.

  • An Iron

Start by covering the water stain with a clean cloth. Further, always use a cotton rag without any decals or prints.

Ensure the iron has no water and adjust it to a low temperature. Then, briefly set it on the cloth over the stain.

Give the iron a few seconds to observe the watermark. And repeat the steps until you remove the entire stain.

Please note that this technique works best when stains are still damp. It is difficult to use an iron to remove set-in watermarks.

  • Hairdryer

This strategy works best for freshwater marks or stains.

Grab a hairdryer when you notice a water ring on your wooden table. Plug it in and adjust it to the highest setting.

Aim the dryer at the water stain and hold until the mark disappears.

Next, polish the table with olive oil or furniture oil, depending on what you can afford.

  • Toothpaste

You only need white toothpaste, not the gel or whitening varieties, and a paper towel or rag.

Dab a liberal toothpaste to the cloth and buff it onto the stain.

Continue rubbing the surface gently until you can no longer see the stain. Then, wipe any residue with a paper towel or cloth.

Below is a straightforward procedure to deal with wood water stains.

  • Act quickly if you notice water spills on the wooden table. Wipe it with a clean cloth or towel.
  • Wood tables are easily moveable. Thus, keep them in a well-ventilated space or move them outdoors.
  • Position one or two fans facing the table to speed up drying.
  • Remove remaining moisture using baking soda. Spread one coat and leave it for a while.
  • Apply an olive oil and vinegar mixture to the table after drying.
  • Finally, wipe the surface with a vinegar-dipped cloth.

 How to Draw Moisture Out of Wood Decks

Remove water-soaked furniture or flooring from the deck. Set the items outdoors for sun drying.

Pick up your vacuum cleaner and empty it if packed. Also, keep emptying it when it fills up during cleaning.

Continue suctioning even when you can’t see watermarks.

Vacuum cleaners pull water from the wood pores and draw water out.

Use a scrub brush to remove grease, debris, oil, dirt, and other substances.

Further, consider a disinfecting cleaner for a better outcome.

Clean the deck twice to prevent future water stains and damage.

Position a dehumidifier at the deck’s center and adjust it to its highest extraction setting.

Additionally, turn on the fans at the highest speed and open the windows and doors for a natural breeze.

Check for mold and mildew once the lumber is visibly dry. Scrub the surface to remove the organisms, if any.

Also, mix water and baking soda to clean the mildew. Then, dry the wood.

You can check how much water remains using a moisture testing meter. Further, the drying process may take weeks.

Thus, knowing where you stand in the procedure is advisable.

How Long Does It Take to Draw Moisture Out of Wood?

Naturally, wet lumber needs at least two weeks to dry completely. But the weather needs to be warm and windy.

In addition, the drying time depends on the wood’s moisture content and the exposure duration to rains or moisture.

The moisture content should be at least six to eight percent to consider wood dry.

Remember, lumber takes about one week to dry after rain.

The moisture content increases to 30 percent after rain exposure, but you can consider the wood dry at 15%.

Here are a few pointers when determining the wood’s drying duration.

  • Wood Type

Hardwood has a lower moisture content than softwood because of its less porous structure.

However, moisture trapped in hardwood is not easy to remove as hardwood. Therefore, you need more drying time.

  • Weather Condition

The drying time will only last two to three days if you live in a windy and dry location.

On the other hand, the process will take more than two to three weeks if the project is in a wet and rainy area.

  • Humidity

The drying time is longer than the average value when you store the wood in a highly humid space.

Besides, the moisture elevation speed slows down because of the low humidity. 

So, store the wet wood in a windy indoor space with lesser humidity.

  • Size of the Wood

The surface area open to the environment is higher in smaller wood than in large woodblocks.

As a result, the moisture reduction rate in the atmosphere is also high. And the wood dries faster.

Always measure the wood’s water content with a moisture meter to determine the drying time after rain exposure.

Additional rain does not increase the moisture content significantly if you adequately cover the wood.

Also, stack up small lumber pieces and raise the structure above the ground to keep it dry.

Covering the wood prevents exposure to additional moisture or rain. Consider a metal or plywood sheet to cover the tops.

This way, you won’t give access to water droplets or moisture in the lumber.

Split the wet wood into small pieces before stacking them to facilitate quick drying. Also, ventilate the stacked wood using stickers.

The exercise denies moisture access to the wood’s fiber and increases the airflow between each lumber piece.

Place the wood near a fireplace to help it dry faster.

This process helps you dry wood during rainy days when it’s not practical to dry the material outdoors.

Alternatively, you can heat the wood by positioning it in a garage or shed.

These areas have sufficient heat and space to fasten the drying process.

Sometimes you need to power wash wood to remove stubborn stains before painting or staining.

However, giving the surface enough time to dry after cleaning is still advisable.

Typically, 48 hours are sufficient for lumber to dry after power washing.

But you will find some trapped moisture inside the wood.

So, leave the material to dry for two to three days while exposing it to the sun.

Once the lumber’s moisture content is down to 12 or 15%, it is dry enough for use.

What Chemical Products Can You Use to Remove Water from Wood?

We have multiple store-bought products efficient in removing water from wooden surfaces. They include Homax and Guardsman.

The product includes a pre-treated reusable rag that removes watermarks from lumber.

However, ensure you consult the manufacturer’s directives before use.

It helps confirm that product is suitable for the wood’s existing finish, such as lacquer, varnish, or shellac.

In addition, please test the product in an inconspicuous area when unsure of the wood’s finish.

Frequently Asked Questions

The question include:

  • Why Is Wet Wood Bad for Woodworking?

First, moisture trapped in wet wood causes rotting and compromises the entire structure.

In addition, the workpiece rots quickly and is vulnerable to damage.

Thus, using wet wood for woodworking projects wastes time and money.

Always select wood with a six or eight percent moisture content for woodworking. Otherwise, your work will be pretty challenging.

Below are more reasons why wet lumber is terrible for woodwork.

  • Sanding Is Difficult

Sanding is a mandatory exercise when one wants to deliver a smooth, flawless finish.

Unfortunately, the absorbed moisture or water causes the wood to swell unevenly.

So, eventually, the lumber warps and tears apart easily during sanding.

In addition, you’ll still end up with scratches, swell marks, and cracks even if you go through with the sanding process.

Therefore, only sand the wood when it is dry. 

  • Poor Strength

Wet wood is weaker than dry wood.

Besides, the density of the material reduces once it swells and absorbs water, regardless of being hardwood.

Moisture and water also cause the wood to expand and loosen the bonds between fibers.

As a result, the material weakens. And even worse, the damage is irreversible after drying.

Finally, please avoid working with wet wood after it dries. Moreover, there is no use in applying a water-resistant paint or sealer after water damage.

  • How Long Does Wood Take to Dry After Water Damage?

Generally, lumber dries within five days after water damage.

But this duration lengthens or shortens depending on weather conditions, wood type, and humidity levels.

In addition, cover the wood during these five days and limit exposure to the outside environment.

Thankfully, the project will take a shorter duration if you stay in a dry, sunny, and windy area.

On the other hand, you will need more than five days if you live in a high-humidity location.

However, your hands are not all tied because you can fasten the drying process by using fans, dehumidifiers, and air drying.

Fans are an excellent and affordable way to dry wet wood. It facilitates air circulation and thus eliminates moisture content.

Alternatively, you can use a dehumidifier. It removes moisture from the surrounding objects and air.

As a result, water trapped in wood goes into the atmosphere to balance the moisture level.

Lastly, air drying is efficient for sunny areas with lower humidity.

In addition, increased air circulation dries the wood within days.

  • Can I Use Baking Soda for Moisture Absorption?

Baking soda is not just a kitchen ingredient. It is also helpful for humidity control and damp absorption.

Besides, the product is a hygroscopic substance like many other salts. Therefore, it can attract and absorb moisture from its surroundings.

As a result, you can use it to reduce the moisture content of nearby surfaces and substrates, making them drier.

The process begins when you place baking soda in a damp environment or near wet objects and surfaces.

It attracts the water molecules and merges them with others. Thus, you get physical and chemical changes.

Further, the hygroscopic material only absorbs water from the surrounding area and helps reduce moisture.

Also, baking soda is not deliquescent.

A deliquescent material absorbs water from the atmosphere, but it does so until it dissolves again and becomes leaky.

Therefore, drying damp wood with deliquescent products is not ideal. The absorbed water will return to the affected area.

Thankfully, baking soda does not allow the above and will not dissolve or liquefy.

  • Does Baking Soda Absorb Water From Lumber?

Baking soda removes moisture from the wood. Further, placing baking soda on surfaces with high moisture levels helps manage the situation.

The product absorbs the excess moisture and allows the infected areas to dry.

However, baking soda features a narrow application field. Therefore, it only absorbs moisture in small areas.

You can still use the product on extensive surfaces, but it is pretty messy and not pocket friendly.

Therefore, consider a dehumidifier with a broader impact field when working on large wood perimeters.

  • What Can I Use Instead of Baking Soda on Wood?

Honey, desiccants, nylon, silica gel, aluminum oxide, rice, germinating seeds, molecular sieve, and Hesperostipa Comata Seeds are alternatives to baking soda.

They are hygroscopic and non-deliquescent and will give a satisfactory outcome in humidity control and moisture absorption.

The above’s hygroscopic attributes help remove moisture from the wood. But ensure they do not have other side effects on the wood.

Otherwise, the results will be worse than moisture damage.

  • How Does Water Damage Wooden Furniture?

Lumber is a natural material and is vulnerable to rot and mold.

Further, prolonged or too much water exposure aggravates the problem.

Wood swells from increased moisture levels. And sometimes, you’ll find water marks caused by wood finish.

Please note that dark water marks indicate that water is already in the wood fiber.

On the other hand, light marks show that the water stain is still on the surface.

  • How Do I Fix Water Damaged and Swollen Wood Furniture?

Honestly, dealing with moisture-related damage on wood furniture is frustrating.

Besides, water damage is always unexpected and almost inevitable, requiring one to always be on the lookout.

Most likely, you will experience fair light water damage. But these issues are easy to solve.

The problem occurs when you handle severe wood damage and even have to replace the structure.

Below are a few tips to fix water-damaged furniture.

  • Dry the Wood

Dry the furniture thoroughly before anything else.

You can place it in the sun for 24 hours instead of using artificial strategies like a blower or hairdryer.

Ensure the wood is dry but not too quickly. Otherwise, it will crack or break.

So, take your time to achieve a good outcome.

  • Use More Fixings

Start the repairs and add more fixings if needed. Also, examine all the parts needing support and move them back into place.

Fortunately, we have tools like screws, expanded metal lather, wall plugs, pipe brackets, bolts, nails, frame fixings, cable clips, and galvanized strips to help fix wood structures.

Adding more fixings gives the repaired furniture a better appearance.

  • Use a Finishing or Belt Sander

Use a finishing or belt sander for sanding the furniture after drying.

The most powerful belt sander is easier to use on top of your furniture tabletop.

But the finishing sander helps to deliver an ultra-smooth surface.

Thus, use both tools for a superb outcome.

  • Apply Marine-Based Polyurethane.

The product is an exterior coating for boats and delivers surface protection against moisture and sunlight.

In addition, it is perfect for railings, tables, furniture, and countertops to avoid water marks.

Marine-based polyurethane comes in water and oil-based options and gives wood superior protection from possible moisture damage.

  • How Do I Remove Watermarks from Wooden Furniture?

Dissolve vinegar, olive oil, baking soda, toothpaste, or salt in water. Then, apply the mixture to the affected wood area.

Apply the chosen formula in a circular motion until the watermark disappears.

Please avoid using too much water in these mixtures to facilitate a more noticeable and excellent result.

  • How Do I Repair Water Damaged Veneer Furniture?

A veneer refers to wooden furniture comprising wood pieces glued together to deliver a finished surface.

However, the material is still susceptible to moisture damage, especially its glued point.

Apply liquid furniture polish to remove dull white water marks. Or wipe the surface with a cloth soaked in denatured alcohol.

Regulate the alcohol amount used lest you destroy the wood finishing.

Alternatively, rub the spot with a mixture of rottenstone and oil or cigarette ashes. Then, wipe it with a clean rag.

Wax the surface and polish it once the stain disappears.

But you may still need to peel back the veneers and reglue them for a durable structure.

  • When Can I Hire a Professional When Removing Moisture from Wood?

You can do various DIY fixes and apply multiple tricks to restore water-damaged furniture. 

However, some instances are too hard, and you need professional help.

Thankfully, we have different companies offering professional services in restoring and repairing water-damaged wood.

The experts know the correct procedure when finding and correcting the hidden damage.

Finally, professionals have woodworking expertise and the latest equipment.

Hence, they save you money and time when dealing with water damage on wood.

  • Can I Use Steel Wool to Remove Moisture from Wood?

Using steel wool to remove wood moisture is okay. But consider using the finest grade available.

Otherwise, you will leave ugly scratch marks on the surface.

Also, use lemon oil and rub it in the wood grain’s direction.

Lastly, tread carefully and avoid going beyond the stain confines, or you’ll damage the wood finish.


Wet wood causes irreversible damage whether you’re working with floors, planks, or walls.

Even worse, the lumber rots much quicker if you have tile, rugs, carpet, and other materials covering it.

Removing water and other liquids from wood guarantees longevity. Therefore, get more information in the above discussion on:

How to Remove Moisture from Wood

Use floor fans and dehumidifiers to remove wood moisture. Further, wet vacuums come in handy in removing puddled water.

Remember, wood moisture facilitates rot, mold, and bacteria.

In addition, even high-quality furniture and wooden floors break down from rot and moisture. 

Therefore, remove moisture as soon as possible to guarantee your wood more durability.

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.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.