Firewood can be stored in many places, and for the consumer, sometimes the best place is wherever it is the most convenient. As a commercial firewood producer I store it where I can get easy access to it, and where it will get the most sun to help it dry.
If you get your wood green, storing it in a sunny location is one of the best ways to get it to dry. But if it is already dry, or if you live in a climate where you have a whole hot dry summer for it to dry, that won’t matter so much. A wood shed or a cover like a patio, lean to, barn can be great places to store firewood. Even a garage can be good if you can spare the garage space and don’t mind the mess. But many of us have to store our firewood outdoors.
The first thing to do is check with your local zoning laws or fire department. In some areas there are laws or recommendations when storing firewood, requiring or recommending that firewood be stored a certain distance from structures for fire safety.
Keep in mind that moving firewood is a lot of work and you will probably want to minimise the distance and number of times that you will have to move it. Choosing a place that will be close to where the delivery truck can get access will save a lot of work in getting the wood to your storage area. If possible store your wood in an area that a truck can back up to.
Also consider bringing the wood into your house when it is time to burn it. The closer it is the less distance you will have to haul it. Also think about how bringing it in from your storage area will be in bad weather. Consider what it will be like if you have to walk through the rain and snow and cold weather. Or even muddy ground. Or maybe you will be wearing a path through your lawn or landscaping.
Make sure the wood is not going to be in the way to where you will have to move it someday before you burn it. Think about whether it may block access for future projects or repairs to your home. For example, having a new appliance delivered. Or blocking access if you have to repair or have your septic system pumped. Also be mindful of delivery vehicles driving over buried plumbing or utilities like leach fields and septic tanks.
Where you store your firewood is usually not a critical decision. But doing a little thinking ahead about where you store it can save you work and grief in the future.
Learn more about firewood storage. Get many tips and techniques for storing and drying firewood.
Knowing a few tips on how to store firewood outdoors can save you from some potential problems. Storing firewood in a shed or other covered structure is great, but many of us don’t have access to these areas. Or maybe we do, but we have better uses for them than storing firewood. This is not a problem since firewood can be stored outside just fine.
Storing Firewood Outdoors
Many things will degrade when left out in the weather, and wood is one of them. When exposed to moisture, untreated wood will rot. Repeated wet and dry and exposure to sun can cause wood to discolor, crack and degrade. But with firewood, you will probably not be storing it for more than a year or two. If stored right, this is not enough time for it to degrade enough to be a problem for its intended use. But if you follow these few simple tips, you can minimise the degradation, and more important, have drier wood to burn.
Store Your Firewood Off the Ground
One of the things that will cause wood to degrade faster than anything, is if it has direct contact with soil. Wood in contact with soil creates a natural habitat for the bacteria, fungus and other organisms that consume wood. But if you are only going to store the wood for a few months to a year, it’s probably not going to decay much. But it will become a huge mess. The dirt will stick to the wood in huge clumps bonded by fungi and microbial body slime. It will also help keep the wood wet. So anything you can do to get the wood off the ground will help keep your wood clean and dry.
Putting a tarp on the ground will help, or stacking the wood on stickers, concrete or asphalt or even clean gravel. Just about anything is better than soil. Things like old carpet can work well too.
Drying Firewood and Keeping it Dry
Many people think that covering firewood is the most important part of having dry firewood. But in many cases, covering wood is not always a good idea and can inhibit drying. The first thing I see a lot of people do as soon as they get firewood, is to throw a tarp on it. That may be a good idea if the wood is dry and it’s going to rain. But if the wood is wet or green, air circulation will be more important than covering it. Learn more about drying firewood.
If your firewood is dry, you will then want to cover it to keep it dry when it rains. The most common way to cover firewood is with a tarp or plastic sheet. This can work well but I see people making a very common mistake when doing this. Knowing not to make this mistake will put you ahead of most people when it comes to storing firewood outdoors.
What they do is cover the whole pile of wood in a way that eliminates almost all air circulation. They seal up the whole pile all the way to the ground. This prevents any moisture that gets in from getting out. When they uncover the wood, instead of finding the pile of nice dry wood they covered, they find a wet moldy mess.
The better way to cover firewood is to just cover the top of the pile and leave the sides open. This allows moisture to escape while keeping the majority of the wood dry. Even if the wood around the edges get wet, it will be worth it to have the wood inside stay dry.
When storing firewood outdoors, we are not dealing with rocket science. The main thing is to keep the wood off of the soil, and once it’s dry, cover it but make sure it gets air circulation. Read more tips on firewood storage, like where to store wood, how to stack it and how to dry it.
I have been producing firewood commercially, as well as burning it myself, for decades. After producing, hauling, storing and selling thousands of cords of wood, I have learned a lot about how to store firewood. In this article I will teach you some of what I have learned about firewood storage.
When it comes to firewood storage, keeping the wood dry is one of the biggest factors. Wet wood burns less efficiently, produces more smoke and creosote, and is just hard to burn. Wet wood will also decay and grow mold and other fungus.
One of the most important ingredients in keeping wood dry is air circulation. Firewood should be stored in a way that allows moisture in the wood to evaporate. One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is to cover up wet wood in a way that prevents air circulation.
Covering Wood With a Firewood Tarp
Many people cover wood with a tarp or plastic sheeting and cover the whole pile all the way to the ground. Covering the whole pile may help keep more rain off but it also holds moisture inside. If there is enough moisture inside, the tarp will start to sweat and drip water back onto the wood.
If you cover your wood with a tarp, it is best to only cover the top of the pile. The edges of the pile should be left open. This allows air to flow under the tarp and through the pile. This way any moisture that gets inside can evaporate. Without air circulation, any moisture inside will stay inside and your wood will dry slowly if at all. These stagnant moist conditions can lead to fungus growth and wood decay.
Keep Firewood Off the Ground
If firewood has direct contact with soil it can become a mess. The wood will absorb moisture from the soil and the soil will usually stick to the wood, often in thick clumps. Where wood and soil make contact makes great habitat for microorganisms, fungus, insects and other things that will create messy decaying wood.
If wood is to be stored outdoors, a concrete slab or asphalt is a great surface to store it on. If this is not available, tarp on the ground or just about anything that will separate wood from soil will help. Even clean gravel is better than soil.
Stacking firewood is more work than throwing or dumping it into a heaping pile, but it can be worth the extra work. Stacking firewood helps to get the wood off the ground, positions it for better air circulation, and can make it easier to cover. It also can give the wood pile a smaller footprint and save space.
A common mistake people make when stacking firewood is to stack it up against a surface like a wall or fence, or another stack of wood. This is fine if the wood is already dry and stored in a dry place, such as indoors. But if it is wet or green, or has a chance of getting wet, you should leave a few inches of space between stacks or between the stack and any wall or other surface.
Where to Store Firewood
The best location for firewood storage will depend on whether the wood is green or dry. If the wood is green, it is best to leave the wood outside uncovered where it will get full sun. Sun and wind will dry wood faster than if the wood is stored under cover. Even if it gets rained on that is fine. Many claim that wood that is exposed to rain and sun both will dry faster. As hard as that may be to believe, it actually seems to be true. It may be that wetting wood keeps the outside pores open so moisture can better evaporate from deeper inside the wood.
Indoor Firewood Storage
If the wood is already dry, the best place to store it is inside a shed, lean-to or other covered area. Green or wet wood in an enclosed building will not dry as fast as it will outside in the sun. If you do dry it indoors, just make sure the building has good air circulation. An opened walled structure can be better for drying wood than an enclosed structure. Especially if the sunny side is open.
Storing Firewood is a Garage
You can store firewood a garage, but keep in mind you will likely be bringing bugs and debris into your garage. firewood also creates great habitat for mice, spiders and other pests that are best left outside.
Storing Firewood Under Eaves
Under wide eaves can be a good place for firewood storage, but this is best done on the sunny side of a building. This way the wood can quickly dry in the sun if the wind blows rain or snow on it.
Outdoor Firewood Storage
Many firewood users don’t have the luxury of having a covered area for firewood storage. If this is your case you will likely have to stack your firewood outside and cover it with a tarp. Just make sure you use the tips above about covering wood.
Choosing a sunny spot is best. Also consider how easy it will be for a delivery truck to get to the location. If you have to haul it all to your storage area with a wheelbarrow or by hand, that will be a lot of extra work. Also think about how convenient the location will be for you to bring in wood to burn it.