How to Treat Untreated Wood

Updated February 21, 2017

Untreated wood is vulnerable to moisture as well as insect pests, such as termites. Wooden steps and patios located outdoors can quickly absorb rainwater and snow, causing the wood to warp, erode and eventually rot. Treating wood with a water seal helps it repel moisture, blocks harmful insects and keeps the wood looking its best.

Wash the wood with soap and water and allow it to dry completely.

Sand the entire surface of the wood along the grain with a sander and 250-grit sandpaper to make it smooth. Hand-sand corners, edges and other areas difficult to reach with the sander.

Vacuum the wood to eliminate the dust and debris from sanding.

Apply water seal evenly over the entire surface of the wood using a paintbrush, roller or sprayer. Allow the seal to dry thoroughly.

Apply wood stain to the wood with a paint brush, if desired.

Wait two days before walking, sitting on or otherwise using the wood.


Wear protective goggles and a dust mask when sanding. Work in a well-ventilated area to prevent inhaling stain or seal fumes. If working outside, check the weather forecast before applying water seal to make sure it won't rain within two days of application.

Things You'll Need

  • Sander and 250 grit sandpaper
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Paintbrush, roller or sprayer
  • Water seal
  • Wood stain
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About the Author

Christina Sloane has been writing since 1992. Her work has appeared in several national literary magazines.