After spending money truckload of firewood or cutting/splitting for weeks the last thing you want to do is let the wood go to waste. So what should you do next? You have to find a place to season it and give the wood enough time to dry. A covered rack outside is a great solution, but another thought popped into your head. Can you dry firewood in a garage?
Yes you can allow firewood to dry and season in a garage, but you need to take some precautions. It will take longer for the wood to dry without sun exposure and airflow, but the wood should eventually dry. Just make sure the firewood is bug and pest free so you don’t accidentally invite pests into your home.
I recommend taking a hybrid approach if you plan on storing wood inside the garage. Use the heat of summer to dry the wood outside and only bring in what you need after the wood is already seasoned. Trying to let wood dry completely in the garage is a recipe in frustration.
You won’t have to deal with rain/snow, but it will take well over a year to dry out completely. Continue reading to find out how I handle bugs and get a few more tips on storing your wood for the winter.
Can Firewood Be Stored In a Garage?
Let me start off by saying that most experts tell you not to store large quantities of firewood in the house. They recommend bringing only the amount of wood that you plan on burning in a day. That’s great in theory, but they’re not the ones running out to a wood pile in a blizzard at 3am in the morning cause my wifes worried that the kids are cold. The convenience of having a load of firewood in the garage can’t be understated.
You just have to understand and accept that wood will have a combination of ants, termites, spiders and other creepy crawlies hidden inside. In some cases you might end up dealing with rodents and snakes. Spray down the wood with your choice of non-toxic insecticide.
I recommend using a boric acid based insecticide (Zap-A-Roach is my favorite). Boric acid is non-toxic to humans/pets so it’s perfectly safe to use inside and out. It’s about as toxic as table salt so you can actually swallow it if you’re feeling dangerous (wouldn’t recommend it).
How Long Does It Take Firewood To Dry In a Garage?
When it comes to seasoning wood, storing it in the garage isn’t the best idea. You won’t have to deal with rain/snow, but you’re missing out on the natural sunlight and warm summer breeze. Nothing will dry out firewood faster than the summer sun.
Plan on it taking well over a year for the wood to fully dry in a garage or shed. That’s way longer than the typical 6 months when properly covered outside in a firewood rack. You’re better off storing most of the wood outside during the summer and slowly bringing a few loads at a time in the winter.
Plus bugs won’t be as active in the winter if you have an unheated garage. Just make sure you only bring in what you’ll use in a night when transitioning from the garage into the house. You don’t want to unleash a swarm of sleeping carpenter ants or termites into your living room.
Building or Buying a Firewood Rack
You don’t have to be a master carpenter to build a small firewood rack. Building a fancy wood shed would be nice, but I don’t have the time or money to deal with that. Plus I go through a lot of firewood and it would cost a small fortune to build all those sheds.
A few years ago I started building my own cheap firewood racks to get my wood covered and up off the ground. I started off building them completely out of wood, but I recently started using those cheap firewood rack brackets that you can get on Amazon.
They are so worth the slight increase in price over building a traditional wood rack from scratch. All you need is a few 2x4s and about 5 minutes of your time. What I really like is that you can easily swap out the pressure-treated boards after they start to look like junk in 5-10 years. A cheap can of black spray paint and $10 worth of lumber and it’s like you have a brand new rack.
I usually tarp off all the wood that’s stored outside making sure to leave the sides exposed to improve airflow. We bought one of those cheap firewood covers (this one) to use at my cabin a few years ago and it’s so much easier to use than the tarp. Maybe someday I’ll be able to afford to cover all my wood with a nice cover.
A Few Tips For Drying Out Wood
Drying (aka seasoning) firewood is easy once you understand a few basic concepts. There’s not much that irritates me more than allowing a load of wood to go to waste because of water damage. Don’t get me wrong, you can usually burn rotten wood, but sometimes you need to cut your losses and find a way to dispose of it.
Thankfully, I haven’t needed to throw away firewood in years after learning a few basic steps. Wood needs to be raised off the ground, covered, get good air flow, and get good sunlight. If you can provide those 4 things your wood will dry out in a single summer.
- Raise it Off The Ground: Raising the wood off the ground will increase airflow, reduce bugs, and get it up away from the wet/cold ground. If you only plan on following one of these steps this is the one to pay attention to. I have a few racks that I’ve built using firewood brackets and 2×4’s and that looks nice, but that’s actually overkill. All you need is a few pallets or pressure treated lumber to get it up off the ground. Just pay attention to how tall you stack the firewood if you’re using pallets. The pile won’t be as stable and you run the risk of letting it fall over.
- Cover it Up(leave the sides open): It doesn’t matter how you cover the wood as long as the sides are opened up. Most of my wood piles are covered up with $2 tarps I bought at the dollar store. A series of wood sheds or covers would be nice, but they’re not necessary. You don’t even need the wood to stay completely dry. Two to three nice days in the sun will dry up most of the water that accumulates after the rain.
- Improve Airflow: This step is really important and something you won’t get storing wood in the garage. Allowing the wood to have adequate airflow will drop the seasoning time from 1-2 years down to 4-6 months of summer sun.
- Sunlight: Remember that sunlight is good! No other heat source can compare to the constant UV exposure dripping down from the sun. Try to setup the rack to get as much sunlight as possible. I understand that it’s not possible in some yards.
If you follow those directions your wood will be dry in no time.
A Detached Garage Would Be Better
The biggest fear that most people have is bringing wood into their home that could be infested with bugs and other pests. Most of that concern goes away when you store the wood in a detached garage. There’s less worry about insect damage and the wood will be out of the elements.
You might run into the occasional rodents and bugs, but that problem is easily solved with a little bit of poison. I always spray my piles with preventative pesticides (my favorite) at the beginning of the season and that usually solves the problem. A box of mouse/rat poison will solve the rodent problem.
I’ve found that most of the ants will die and move outside because of the lack of humidity in the garage. My garage stays at about 40% humidity, which isn’t enough for a colony to survive. Termites won’t be an issue since they setup their colonies in the dirt.
That’s the main reason why people tell you not to stack firewood against the house. The bugs that are attracted to the wood pile will move into the wood framing on your home. A few months eating away at your home can be a costly mistake.
Store Most of The Wood Outside In The Summer
Although firewood will probably dry in the garage it will take much longer than if it was left outside in a nice wood shed or stored covered on a rack. Nothing will dry firewood faster than exposure to the sun and summer breeze. A well made firewood rack, cover, or tarp will keep most of the water off and allow it to dry quickly.
Consider storing most of your wood outside in the summer and bringing in only what you need for the winter. This approach will take advantage of the summer heat and keep you from having to deal with trudging through the cold every morning to get more wood.
I recommend waiting until the end of summer and loading up the garage on warmer days throughout the winter. People can’t seem to agree on whether or not insects will be more or less active after the first freeze. Honestly, the issue with bringing in bugs is overblown.
Check out the wood before bringing it indoors keeping an eye out for ants and termites. Spray a boric acid based insecticide (Zap-A-Roach is my favorite) anywhere you see bugs. Boric acid is completely non-toxic to humans/pets so it’s safe to burn both indoors and out. You don’t want to bring ants and termites into your home.