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To tarp or not....

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Grannyknot, Dec 6, 2011.

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  1. Grannyknot

    Grannyknot New Member

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    So yesterday, while I was standing outside thinking of where my next stack of wood will be, my neighbor, a long time wood burner came over to admire my work.
    He, of course, has twice the amount of wood Ive got, and has a lot of knowledge on the subject.
    He questioned why I put tarps over my seasoning wood. I said that I figured it would season better if rain and snow didnt hit the wood directly.
    Then he showed me all his wood that was in the process of seasoning and how it wasn't covered. He thought it helped it to season better if it was left uncovered.
    My neighbor explained to me that sometime in October, he moves all his seasoned wood to a covered area, or just throws a tarp over it.

    So, is this pretty much the consensus for wood that is being seasoned?

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  2. Constrictor

    Constrictor Member

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    seasons better uncovered. the only time to cover is if its going to snow or rain on the wood you need in the next few weeks.
  3. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    I would cover my stacks only if I had a rigid cover. Tarps don't allow air movement, which is vital for drying. A rigid cover allows air to move beneath it and through the sides. As it is, I don't cover and it seems to be fine. I stack a week or two worth of wood on the porch so it dries before I move it inside, even during the winter.
  4. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    I don't cover my wood . . . well in the first year . . . in Year 2 the wood moves to the shed.

    That said . . . I have some two-year-old wood I have been burning this Fall that I have top covered . . . well truthfully, some of it is draped all the way down the sides when snow was last predicted . . . I'm not too worried though since the wood is already seasoned . . . if I wasn't so lazy I would pull up the tarp sides to allow the wind to get better access.
  5. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    Think about it: How well would your laundry dry when you put a tarp over it? ;) Air moving through the stacks is important for proper drying. What you can do is to put a cover on top but to leave the sides exposed. That can help if you get a lot of rain but is most of the time not required. Stack loosely, leave some space between the individual rows, and I have found that having the side with the bark up seems to work better.
  6. Grannyknot

    Grannyknot New Member

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    Thanks for the replies.
    I'll be uncovering my seasoning wood this afternoon.
  7. NH_Wood

    NH_Wood Minister of Fire

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    I stack fairly tightly on pallets - I leave uncovered for the first spring-fall - after that I put a piece of rubber roofing on the pallet that just barely covers the top. The wood sits like that for about 3 years. I don't like the center getting very wet - the stack is tight enough that it takes time for the center to dry out. Plus, I'll get a lot of oak leaves that get wedged in the stack, and they keep pockets of moisture for a long time. I didn't cover the wood I'm burning this year - it was uncovered for about that last 2 years and its fine, but its in the best drying spot and not under as many oaks. I'm sure you'll do just fine with leaving your stacks uncovered, but I'd suggest leaving plenty of room from the wood to breathe. Cheers!
  8. ClassicSWC

    ClassicSWC Member

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    I only cover the top of my stacks. Can't see how keeping rain off the stack is a bad thing.
  9. Constrictor

    Constrictor Member

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    No sun on the stacks, less wind, cieling to hold moisture under.
  10. shawneyboy

    shawneyboy Minister of Fire

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    Easy answer.... NOT... I leave them uncovered, untill they go into the woodshed.
  11. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    Good neighbor ;)
    Him sharing his experience & knowledge is valuable. Use his good sage advice :)
    On you way to becoming a friend & a neighbor. Good neighbors are priceless. :)
  12. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Here is how we do it. Cut during winter. Split right after snow melt in spring. Stack right after splitting. The stacking is always where wind can hit the sides of the piles. Wind is more important than sun but having both is nice. Leave uncovered but cover top just before snow flies. We use old galvanized roofing for covering the stacks. Also, you will notice we stack 3 rows together but we have extra time for drying as we are usually burning wood that has been in the stack 2-7 years. If only drying a year, do stack in single rows.

    [​IMG]

    I also stack approximately 4 1/2 feet high which will shrink down to around 4' by fall. This has worked for us for the last 40+ years.
  13. doogiegh

    doogiegh Member

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    I'm new to all of this.. I'm still amazed by the idea that a 4.5' stack will shrink all the way down to 4'.. It makes perfect sense.. Anyone who ever put in a deck knows to put the boards "tight" and that in just a few weeks, there's 1/4" gaps between all the boards... So 1/4" between every piece of wood 25 pieces tall is the 6 inches.. I get it.. It just sound surprising to read..
  14. Adabiviak

    Adabiviak Feeling the Heat

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    Is the question here an absolute, as in to tarp all the time or never? I cap mine off (with the sides open) to keep rain and snow from soaking into the stack from the top down, but that tarp goes on as late as possible and comes off as early as possible.

    Also, was your neighbor questioning why you tarp your wood when he apparently does the same thing, or was his question why your wood was covered during the presumably dry season?
  15. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    I think he was covering his wood that wasn't seasoned, still green. The neighbor only cover his wood after it's been left uncover for a year or more then covers the dry seasoned stuff.
    If you cover, just cover the top, not the sides. like you are doing.
    For the first year of seasoning the CSS wood, no cover just single row stacks or good spacing between rows is "the norm".
    After that just cover the top. A rigid cover is best, tarps are a pain, blow off, hold water , rip, shred, or leak. had all that before my shed :)
  16. Fredo

    Fredo Member

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    BackWoods Savage,

    Wow, very impressive how you stack your firewood. There is something beautiful about stacked wood. Even my wife that has been my FireWood Laborer due to my back says the same thing.

    I hope I don't sound corny but the oak that I have put up in my pole barn has a beautiful, golden color to it. Unfortunately, that beautiful oak is going into my Crematorium( Wood Stove) shortly.

    Seeing pics of the wood that you have makes me wish I had a trailer now!

    Fredo
  17. tecumseh

    tecumseh Member

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    I would think that tarping or covering would be a good idea for people in places where their stacks (like mine) need to stored fully or partially under trees like NH_Wood mentioned. I have pine needles, leaves, and sticks raining down on my stacks throughout the year and I dont have the option to move them elsewhere before the year of their use. I find a tarp (only over the top without side overlap) helps keep that junk and water off reasonably well. Not saying replacing tarps and figuring out how to keep them down is any fun, but its much better than scraping or banging wood to get the crap off. With my limited space I cannot get past 2 years of holding room so I want as little water hitting the stacks as possible to make sure things are as dry as possible especially with the load of oak I split this fall.

    I am interested to see if people feel that covered stacks invite more critters to live in the stacks than open ones? I got the scare of a lifetime about a month ago when I went out to start pulling wood and found a little black and white baby friend snuggling in a nest of leaves that had blown under the block/pallet stacking I use. I do see eaten nuts and seeds in between splits now and then when I grabbing wood to burn.

    Tim
  18. Fredo

    Fredo Member

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    Tecumseh,

    Where I live is big soy bean and corn country so you can imagine the field mice population! Reading your post brings to mind of all the surprise mini but very elaborate mouse dwellings that I have and continue to discover.

    I have a bonfire wood pile underneath the overhang of my pole barn. There you can find mouse made apartments, single and multiple dwelling places! I have found combinations of bird, chicken and straw homes. Cardboard, paper and plastic constructed homes and even electrical wiring witin mouse houses!
    Come to think about it that's why my ATV isn't starting! The Lil Rat Basterds took the electrical wiring to my Four Wheeler! But anyway, I am a Newbie and brainstorming how I am gonna stack my firewood also.

    For now my wife has been loading our oak face cords into the corner of my polebarn to keep it out of the elements. I have good air circulation in there but I also know that the mice are hard at work building next generation mansions as we speak! Nothing a flame thrower can't handle by the way!

    The kind folk at Hearth.com are an encylepedia of knowledge and will give you a good idea about wood stacking and a way to fix any of your concerns.
    I personally can not wait until my injured back recovers so I can get out in my yard and start playing with my stacks of wood.


    Fredo
  19. Grannyknot

    Grannyknot New Member

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    Thanks for the replies everyone.
    Even though its colder than the dickens here, we are forecasted to have sun and wind for the next 7 days.
    I pulled all the tarps off my stacks.

    Going scroungin this weekend.
    Spotted some nice oak on a street corner about a half mile from my house.
  20. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    And this is one more thing to think about when selling wood. If wood sellers do let the wood dry before selling it then it actually takes more splits to make up the cord of wood! If selling it green there is not only more weight but also more volume.
  21. Kenster

    Kenster Minister of Fire

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    I'm in the camp with the guys who don't cover except for wood that is already dry and that will be burned in the next week or so. Any wood that will not be burned this year should be left out in the open, uncovered. Now, I don't have to worry much about snow down here so I'm playing on a different field than many of you. I don't have a wood shed, either. But if I did, I wouldn't move any wood into the shed until it's already to burn and only the wood that I will be burning that year.

    My personal practice is to leave everything out exposed to the elements and keep several days worth of dry wood up on our big, covered front porch. If I'm expecting several days of wet weather ( a rare occurrence in Texas these days) I might throw a tarp over the stack I'm pulling from. But for stacks in the drying process, I don't care if leaves fall in the stacks or critters build nests in there. No big deal. I don't see a reason in the world to cover wood that is a year or two (or more) away from the stove.
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