The Best Way To Protect Outdoor Wood

Wooden Outdoor Furniture


When it comes to the warmer months, we all want to get out in the garden and enjoy a bit of fresh air. This means that many of us are investing in everything from outdoor furniture to new fencing, that can help us relax and soak up the sun. But what is the best way to protect outdoor wood to prevent it from getting damaged? Our experts have put together this handy guide to protecting outdoor wood so you can have peace of mind that it will continue to look beautiful long-term.


Why Is It Important To Protect Outdoor Wood?


Like any exterior surface, protecting outdoor wood is crucial for a number of reasons. Wood as bare mineral surface is highly porous. This means that if left bare, it will uptake moisture. The more porous the wood, the more moisture it will absorb. The level of porosity of the wood will depend from species to species, with hardwoods like Teak, Iroko and Oak being more durable than softwoods. In reality, wood of all types will uptake moisture if left untreated, which can lead to a number of problems.




While all natural mineral surfaces when exposed to high levels of moisture will decay in some way, wood is particulraly prone to damage over time. Bare, untreated outdoor wood, especially in this country, will be left exposed to high levels of moisture which continue to saturate the material. Eventually, when the rotting sets in, it causes wood to become weakened and eventually will break off and require repairs to be made.


Organic growth


Organic growth is a broad term that refers to any moss, lichens or other fungi that grow on natural surfaces such as wood. As wood is highly porous and can uptake large amounts of moisture, it is particularly prone to organic growth. This is because this organic growth relies on moisture levels in order to spread. The more moisture present in a material, the better the conditions are for organic matter to thrive.




Aside from the discolouration that is caused by organic growth, the wood will darken in colour when it becomes wet. This leaves wood looking tired and patchy, as the colour change differs where sections of wood are more exposed than others. Overall, especially in a climate like the one here in the UK, you will lose the beautiful, natural look of the wood each time there is a downpour. 


What Is The Best Way To Protect Outdoor Wood?


There are a wide variety of wood products on the market today, which can make finding the best product for you rather difficult. While any exterior wood product can provide some level of protection.


Wood paint, wood stain & wood oil are all forms of outdoor wood products that are primarily designed to provide wood with a new finish,  whether this is adding a new colour or sheen to the wood. While these products can offer a level of weather protection, they are not designed with this solely in mind. For example, while some wood paints or stains refer to themselves as 'weatherproof' or 'weather-resistant', these are not completely waterproof meaning they will allow some moisture to soak into the wood. To be completely waterproof, a treatment must be water repellent. By being water repellent, moisture is prevented from absorbing into the wood, when it is left exposed to rainfall. This in turn means that moisture cannot find its way into the material and cause it to deteriorate. 


The best way to protect wood if you do not want to alter the appearance of the timber is to apply a wood waterproofing product. These are water repellent treatments that once applied to outdoor wood, provides it with complete waterproof protection. Some waterproofing treatments such as wood sealers form a film on the surface of wood that completely seals the pores of the timber. While this prevents water entering the wood, it also prevents moisture from naturally escaping out of the wood, which can lead to a build-up of moisture. This build-up of moisture can lead to further saturation of the wood and cause the film of the sealer to burst after a matter of years or even months. Other forms of wood waterproofing treatments absorb into the wood in the same way a moisturiser would, providing the wood with water repellent properties rather than forming a water repellent film on the surface. By penetrating into the wood instead of forming a film, the pores of the wood remain open and moisture can naturally breathe out, while water cannot absorb into the wood. Due to the highly breathable nature of these waterproofing products, they are highly durable. The lack of a film also means that there is no coating to become weathered, meaning it can withstand any weather conditions without peeling, flaking or bursting. 


Protected outdoor wood


Emperor Wood Waterproofer is a super hydrophobic treatment for any outdoor wood, from garden furniture to wooden cladding. The treatment absorbs deep into the wood, providing it with water repellent properties but also maintaining high breathability. This combination not only helps to keep outdoor wood dry, but also provides ultra-durability.  


In independent testing conducted by UKAS accredited laboratory Lucideon, Emperor Exterior Wood Waterproofer when subjected to 25 year accelerated weathering was found to have no change in performance or appearance after the 25 year period. For this reason we offer a 10 year manufacturers guarantee, ensuring its performance in any weather conditions for over a decade without the need to re-apply to outdoor wood.


If you want to protect exterior wooden surfaces from rot, decay & discolouration but do not want to alter the natural beauty of the wood, applying one-coat of our wood waterproofing treatment is the ideal solution.


Outdoor wood protection


A Step-By-Step Guide To Protecting Outdoor Wood


What You Will Need:



  • Emperor Exterior Wood Waterproofer
  • Paint brush, roller or pump-sprayer
  • Dust sheet
  • 180 grit sandpaper (may be required)
  • Masking tape
  • Exterior wood filler & filling knife (may be required) 


1. Preparation


The first step when it comes to protecting outdoor wood is to establish the condition it is in. By doing this you can take the necessary steps to repair the wood in order to extend its lifespan. 


Unless you are protecting new outdoor wood, you will need to clean the surface to remove any weathering that has already occurred to the surface. Any dirt, debris or organic growth will be visible once the wood waterproofing treatment is applied as it is completely invisible. On wood that is quite dirty you can use a power washer to give the wood a thorough clean. This will not only dislodge dirt but not also remove any loose or defective wood. Where the weathering is not prominent, hot soapy water and a soft brush is enough to remove dirt from the surface of the wood. You can sand down the wood if it has been significantly discoloured and where cleaning alone is not sufficient. This can be done using a 180-grit sandpaper, which will help remove the top layer from the wood.


Next applying a fungicidal cleaner to any weathered wood will prevent any organic growth from continuing to grow on the surface. While the waterproofing treatment removes the moisture required for organic growth to grow, it can still continue to develop if not removed. Apply Emperor Exterior Cleaner to the wood using a brush, roller or pump-sprayer and leave it to dry for 2 hours. After this period, any organic growth such as lichens or moss will be killed and the wood will be completely clean.


After cleaning the wood, you can remove any rotting and decaying material. These areas can be repaired using an exterior wood filler, helping to not only improve the appearance of the wood but also helping to provide full waterproof protection. Many fillers come in different shades to help you best match up the shade of the wood to the filler you are adding. If you do not match the shade correctly, this will be visible in the final results as the treatment is not designed to change the colour of the wood.


The final step is to protect any areas surrounding the timber by putting down a dustsheet to protect the surfaces.


2. Applying The Waterproofer


The product can be applied using a hand-pump sprayer, brush or roller. It is a thin, watery solution that is very easy to apply, so anyone can do it!


Apply the treatment to the bare wood at a coverage of 5m2 per litre. Applying the correct amount of treatment is important as this ensures maximum performance. This is a one-coat application treatment, so once you have applied the treatment you can simply leave this to dry for 1 hour at 20°C. At lower temperatures it can take slightly longer for the product to dry.


Once dry, you will be left with completely water repellent exterior wood that is protected from weathering for at least 25 years. The full beading effect of the wood treatment will be visible once it has cured, which may take a number of days, so be patient. In this time, the wood will still be fully waterproof and protected however. 



Frequently Asked Questions



Q. Will it change the appearance of the outdoor wood?


Emperor Wood Waterproofer absorbs deep into wood instead of creating a film like other wood products. For this reason, there is no film to change the appearance of the wood, meaning it offers completely invisible protection. This includes no colour change or difference in sheen on the wooden surface.


Q. Does the type of wood impact how best to protect my outdoor wood?


While there are a wide variety of wood species that have differing features, they are universally all negatively impacted by weathering and the decay that is caused by high levels of moisture. Having said this, softwoods are more prone to weathering than hardwoods, so if you are looking to protect softwood, the sooner you do this the better, as the adverse effects of weathering will take a hold quickly.


Q. What guarantee of performance is there?


Emperor Wood Waterproofer has been independently tested by a UKAS accredited laboratory in a 25 year weathering test. After 25 years equivalent weathering, there was no signs of change in appearance or performance of the wood, which means it was fully protected for a 25 year period. Due to this, we offer a 10 year manufacturer guarantee which ensures the performance of the product in any conditions when applied correctly. If the product does not fully protect your outdoor wood from water absorption we will replace the product no questions asked, as we know just how effect it is at preventing wood from decaying.


We hope we have answered any questions you may have had regarding the best way to protect outdoor wood. If you have any other questions, feel free to get in touch with our team of experts who are on hand to assist you. Contact them today by emailing or calling them on 0333 006 8880. Alternatively, shop our range of exterior waterproofing treatments today and get free next working day delivery on all orders over £50.