Understanding how to stack firewood under the right conditions is important for helping the wood to dry out quickly and efficiently, and also for ensuring that it stays dry once the wood has been seasoned.
In order for wood to be useable as firewood it needs to be dry enough. The seasoning process can take many months or even years for the moisture content of the wood to be low enough, and the way in which the wood is stacked throughout this process plays an important role in how quickly the wood dries out.
The best way to stack firewood is on top of a dry platform or raised off the ground, with the cut ends of the logs facing outwards and open to the atmosphere, while ensuring that the logs aren’t packed together too tightly and have sufficient cover if the stack will be subject to rain or snow.
We’ve put together this guide to explain in detail how you should be stacking your firewood at home, whether it’s to season the firewood or for storage, while also explaining how we stack our own firewood for both seasoning and storage.
This article discusses how to stack firewood outside for seasoning and storage.
If you’re looking for how to stack firewood in a fireplace you can find out how to in another one of our articles here.
How To Stack Firewood For Seasoning
When it comes to stacking firewood for seasoning or for storage the most important factor is doing it in such as way that allows to the wood to naturally dry out and naturally stay dry.
The important aspects when stacking firewood are that:
- The firewood should be kept away from any form of rain of moisture.
- Any moisture has the ability to leave the stack.
- Open to the atmosphere to allow the sun and wind to dry the wood out, and to keep it dry.
It’s important to keep any form of water away from a stack of firewood because the wood can start to go bad and rot over time if subject to consistent and prolonged contact with moisture. Wood that starts to rot will become unusable as firewood.
It’s also important to ensure that the wind can still get to the wood, even if it’s being protected from any rain or snow.
With this is mind firewood should therefore be stacked:
- Placed on a dry platform or raised up off any moist ground.
- Protected by a lean-to/overhang or form or woodshed roof, and not directly covered over by a form of sheet such as tarpaulin (if subjected the rain or snow over the seasoning process).
- With the cut ends of the logs open the atmosphere on at least one side.
- In a single row and not too tightly packed together.
When stacking firewood for seasoning it’s important that the wood is stacked in the correct way so that it doesn’t go bad, and to also help reduce the time it takes for the logs to fully season.
Properly seasoned wood should have a moisture level of less than 20%. Freshly cut ‘green’ wood can have a much higher moisture content value than this, and so stacking firewood for seasoning the right way helps to reduce the time it takes for the wood to fully season.
Stacking firewood in the right manner to allow for the wood to fully season is therefore important because burning logs that are still too wet can lead to inefficiently burning fires that can struggle to get going and stay going.
Keeping Firewood Off The Ground
Firewood should be stacked raised up off any form of ground that can become moist, or placed on a dry platform.
The issue with leaving wood stacked up on the ground is that the lower layers of wood can absorb the moisture in the ground and be in regular contact with moisture, leading to these bits of wood to go bad and rot over time.
Pieces of wood subject to constant contact with moisture can become unusable as firewood because they won’t have had the ability to properly dry out. Wood stacked on the ground can also become a home insects, and any surrounding vegetation can block the wind from being able to dry the wood.
So how should firewood be stacked off the ground?
In order for the whole stack of firewood to remain dry, firewood should therefore be stacked on a dry and flat platform such as concrete, or raised up from the ground on other bits of wood such as pressure treated timber.
We stack our firewood to season on a concrete base, which falls towards the nearby ground to help remove moisture from the stack.
This allows the lower layers of wood to properly season without the worry of the wood going bad. The concrete base prevents the wood from sucking up the moisture in the ground and also helps to drain any excess moisture off into the adjacent ground.
You can also stack your wood off the ground by placing each end on a long piece of wood such a pressure treated 2×4’s. This will help to prevent moisture from reaching the firewood and the pressure treated wood will be able to withstand the moisture from the ground.
You can also use a firewood rack or wood shed to stack your firewood inside of, which will have legs or a suitable base that will keep your firewood off the ground.
We also stack some of our wood closer to our home within a wood shed, and it keeps the seasoned wood remaining dry and ready for use in our fires.
Keeping The Stack Of Firewood Covered
In order for firewood quickly and efficiently it must remain dry throughout the process. Wood that remains constantly wet without any time to dry can start to go bad rather than dry out properly.
If you live in an area where it can be common to rain periodically throughout the year then it’s worth protecting the wood from any rain or snow.
If you need to protect your stack of firewood from above then it’s important the form of protection doesn’t directly cover over the wood, such as using a sheet of tarpaulin over the entire stack.
Covering a firewood stack completely can:
- Cause moisture to build under the cover and it will have no way to escaping, leading to wood that goes bad rather than drying out.
- Prevent the wind and sun from being able to properly dry out the wood.
The best forms of protection for your stack of firewood are therefore either the roof of a firewood rack/shed or a lean-to/overhang from an adjacent structure.
Our firewood stacked inside our wood rack helps to keep any rain and snow off the wood.
We also stack our wood that needs to be seasoned up against the back of our garage. An overhang from the garage helps to protect the stack from the majority of the rain and while the wood is drying.
Both these methods help to protect our firewood from any excess moisture that would cause the firewood to not season properly or stay dry.
Whatever form of cover is used it shouldn’t block the sunlight or wind from getting to the stack of logs.
If you’re stacking firewood up against a structure like we do then be sure to leave a gap between the ends of the logs and the structure to further help with airflow.
Stacking The Firewood
The aim of stacking firewood is to either bring the moisture content of the wood down to acceptable levels for use in fires, or to keep firewood that has already been seasoned remaining dry.
The sun and wind (but in particular the wind) play an important role in being able to dry out firewood or keep it dry.
Firewood should therefore be stacked in such a way that allows both the wind and sun to get to the wood.
When stacking wood you should ensure that at least one end of the wood is open to the air. This means that at least one cut end of the logs shouldn’t be blocked by anything when it has been stacked.
Firewood should also be stacked for seasoning in a single row If possible.
Stacking our firewood up against the back of our garage allows for the outer side of the logs to be open to the atmosphere. The wind and sun is able to get to the logs to help dry them out as quickly as possible. It also allows for any wood that has already been properly seasoned to stay low in moisture content.
Wood rack/sheds are also fully open on one side for the wind to help dry the wood.
There should be nothing placed in front of the stack of wood that would block both the sun and wind from reaching the logs.
When it comes to actually stacking the firewood, the logs should be stacked:
- Up in rows from the base.
- With one end of the logs facing outwards.
- In an angular formation and spaced far enough apart to help with airflow in between the logs.
- As high as you are comfortable with.
When stacking firewood for seasoning, first ensure that you have the right platform on which to stack the wood, whether it’s on a dry concrete base, in a firewood rack, or raised up on treated timber.
Place the wood down in layers, ensuring that one end of the logs is facing outwards.
The firewood should be stacked together so that they won’t move about, but should be arranged so that they’re not too tightly packed together. Leaving a small gap in between the logs allows for air to get in between the logs to help with the air drying process.
Don’t stack firewood too high or it may cause the whole stack to become unstable. Only stack the logs as high as you are comfortable with.
Is It OK To Stack Firewood On The Ground?
Firewood should not be stacked directly on the ground but instead stacked on a dry platform such as concrete or the base of a wood rack, or raised off the ground by placing treated timber under the ends of the stack.
If firewood is stacked on the ground it can lead to the lower layers of wood going bad over time.
If firewood is directly in contact with moist ground it can cause moisture to seep back up into the wood, leading to wood that starts to rot due to constant and prolonged contact with moisture.
Firewood placed on the ground can also become a habitat for insects and animals, and any surrounding vegetation can block the sunlight and wind from reaching and drying the lower logs in the stack.
Firewood should therefore never be placed directly on the ground and always stacked on some sort of dry platform or raised of the ground.
Do You Stack Firewood Bark Up Or Down?
It’s generally recommended to stack firewood with the bark up because it can help to prevent moisture from gathering in between the bark and the wood.
By stacking firewood with the bark facing in an mostly upwards direction, the curvature of the logs allows any excess moisture to runoff down the stack.
If firewood is stacked with the bark down any moisture from the wood or from rain may pool within the U-shape of the bark. This can lead to a stack of logs that doesn’t season properly or as quickly as if the wood was stacked with the bark facing upwards.
How High Should You Stack Firewood?
Firewood is typically stacked between 4’ and 6’ high for seasoning, but a chosen height for stack of firewood can be down to preference or may be restricted by the height of a roof, such as in a firewood rack.
How high you decide to stack your firewood for seasoning can be down to your own height and how high you feel comfortable stacking the logs. If stacking wood higher than around 7’ then you may need to start using a form of ladder to reach the top of the stack.
Our own stack of seasoning firewood can be up to 10’ high, but we have the space available to do so and are happy to use a ladder to reach the top of the stack.
We also use a firewood rack to store and season logs closer to the house. When using a firewood rack or shed the height of a firewood stack will be dictated by how high the structure is.
How Do You Stack Firewood To Dry Faster?
The most important elements for allowing your stack of firewood to dry faster are to ensure that the stack is off any moist ground, sufficiently covered over to help protect the it from the rain and snow, and fully open to the air on at least one cut end of the logs.
To help your stack of firewood to dry out faster you can also:
- Place the open side of the stack against the prevailing wind.
- Ensure the open side of the stack gets the majority of the sun.
- Stack the logs so that there’s sufficient gap between them for air to flow through.
- Lay the logs with the bark side upwards to help with moisture dispersal from the stack.
What Can I Put Under A Firewood Stack?
Firewood should be stacked either raised up off the ground on placed on a suitable surface that won’t retain moisture for long periods of time, such as concrete or block paving.
Firewood should not be stacked directly on the ground. To keep it away from moisture, firewood should be raised up off the ground using either treated timber under the ends of the stack or placed within a firewood rack that will also keep it off any moisture ground.
We season and store our firewood off the ground within a firewood rack:
Firewood can also be stacked on top of a surface that won’t retain moisture for extended periods of time. We also stack our firewood on top of a concrete platform which allows any excess moisture to runoff into the adjacent ground, but you can also use many other types of dry platforms such as bricks or pavers underneath your stack.