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How to Stack a Woodpile Using a Tarp

How to Stack a Woodpile Using a Tarp

There are many different ways to stack firewood properly. Each approach will have pros and cons with regard to stability, ease of use, and the ability for the wood to dry properly. Some of the various ways to stack wood include building a shed, stacking using some type of rack system, building a round woodpile known as a holz hausen, or using a more rectangular-shaped stack. Regardless of the kind of stacking used, it’s important that the wood is kept dry.

In the case of a rectangular or linear type stack, the key is to decide how the ends of the stack will be supported so they don’t fall over. One way to support the ends of the woodpile is to buy a rack that has rigid ends to the row, thereby fully supporting the pile between two rigid rails.

Other people use a stake instead of buying a wood rack, but care should be taken to make sure the stake is rigid enough to support the wood. That stake needs to be deep enough in the ground to ensure that it doesn’t tip over when exposed to the elements and forces from the wood over time.

Another option that has no cost is to stack two pillar-type stacks at the ends of the row. To build a pillar stack, lay two or three logs parallel next to each other. For the next row, do the same but place them perpendicular to the row you just made. Alternate each row of logs perpendicular to the row below them until you reach the desired height.

Here is a picture of this pillar alternate stacking technique:

how to store firewood outside in winter

Once you get your pillars constructed, you can fill in between them by stacking all the logs parallel to each other. Some people think it is necessary to make the whole stack using the alternate orientation for each row, but this is a waste of time. As long as the cover is constructed properly as discussed below, the wood will have enough airflow to dry properly.

Regardless of the type of stack you build, the final step is to properly cover the wood so it is both protected from the elements while at the same time providing enough ventilation to dry, also known as seasoning.

The simplest way to do this is by using some type of tarp or plastic sheet. Most tarps come with grommet holes that will allow you to attach a rope to tie down the tarp to a secure tie-off point. One of the biggest challenges with the approach is what to tie the tarp too! If you do not have a rack, you don’t have a structure to tie it off to. If this is the case, one trick is to slide a small branch between the logs down low, leaving it protruding from the stack. This will allow you to tie the rope to it using a half hitch or similar knot. When you want to lift the tarp to remove the wood, you can slide out the stick, remove some logs and then reposition the stick without having to untie the knot. Lastly, we would avoid just placing a log on top of the tarp to secure it. Although this seems the like the simplest solution, that log will be exposed constantly to the rain and will ultimately become rotten over time. Over time the wind will most likely flip up the parts of the tarp that overhang and possibly allow the wind to blow it completely off your woodpile.

When choosing the size of your waterproof cover, it’s important to not completely enclose the pile under the cover. This would prevent airflow and slow down the ability for the wood to dry out. The best approach is to make sure you obviously cover the top of the wood pile and leave approximately nine inches hanging over the sides. This will allow any rain that falls on the tarp to drip off the overhang while still leaving the sides of the pile exposed to the sunlight and wind for proper drying. Keep in mind that although during a rainstorm, the exposed woodpile may get wet, it is only on the surface and will quickly dry once it stops raining. The key is to keep the water off the top of the woodpile so that it does not soak into the inside of the woodpile which would lead to wet and soggy wood that would never dry out properly.

These tarp tips can also be applied to a round Holz hausen-type woodpile. If using a square or rectangular tarp with a round woodpile, the corners will hang down low to the ground. This is less than ideal because it covers the sides of the woodpile that should be exposed to the sun and air. In addition, the flaps tend to act like a sail on windy days, trying to pull it off your woodpile. One of the nice parts of building a holz hausen is the pleasing look of the finished stack. Unavoidably, when using a standard tarp, the cover corners will hang down and hide your nice work!

A more refined solution for a round woodpile is to use a product we sell, called a Cordwood Cover®, that solves all of these problems.

Firewood Vs Cordwood Vs Face Cord

Firewood Vs Cordwood Vs Face Cord

What’s the difference between firewood and cord wood? The distinction may not seem significant to most people. Logs are logs, right? Well, not exactly. For those making frequent use of their fireplace, knowing what separates these two kinds of fuel can save you hundreds of dollars on cleaning costs.

Cord wood are firewood logs cut and split into conveniently sized pieces that are easy to carry or stack in a wood pile. They’re what you see being sold at stores. The term actually comes from the “cord” or string used to tie the logs into a bundle. Firewood, on the other hand, is simply any wood intended to be burned.

While either functions well enough, cordwood is easier to store and seasons faster than unsplit logs. This means your fires will burn more efficiently and cleaner, preventing dangerous creosote from building up in your chimney. You can read up on the proper way to season firewood in our previous blog post.

However, “cord” doesn’t just indicate a type of log, it’s also a unit of measurement. How much firewood is in a cord of wood? Typically, between 600 and 800 pieces. More specifically, it is however much fits into a 4′ high x 4′ wide x 8′ long pile of firewood. If you want to purchase a consistent amount, buying a cord is your best option. That way, you’re guaranteed to always receive the same volume of fire logs regardless of their individual size.

If a full cord is a bit much for your needs, you can always purchase a smaller amount called a “face cord.” While a face cord also measures 4′ high x 8′ long, widths can vary. This means the volume can range anywhere between a half a cord to a third depending on the seller, so make sure you ask for exact measurements before buying.

Importance of Seasoning Firewood

How to Tell if your Firewood is Seasoned

Seasoning firewood correctly means the difference between a roaring fire and a disappointing smolder. Logs kept dry under proper outdoor firewood storage will naturally season over time as they are exposed to the elements. This allows excess moisture to evaporate, leaving behind fire logs that burn hotter, longer, and more efficiently.

Unseasoned or “green” wood is any wood still heavy with residual moister. This can be newly cut logs or even wood you find on the side of the road after your neighbor has taken down some trees. These logs are harder to light, produce more smoke, and don’t burn as hot. Even worse, they can cause creosote to build up in your chimney, leading to decreased airflow and creating a potential fire hazard.

How to Tell if your Firewood is Seasoned

Seasoned wood looks like what you buy at the store. If you are unsure, check the color. Seasoned logs are brown rather than green. They also tend to be coarse on the end and you may even see cracking. Seasoned wood is lighter in weight with easily peelable bark and makes a hollow sound when struck.
While seasoning wood can take anywhere from six months to two years depending on conditions, it’s worth it to have a safer and more pleasant fire-building experience. The process itself is easy.

How to Season Firewood

In order to season logs, keep them raised off the ground on a firewood stand and protect them with a cover. This will make sure they stay dry and prevent rot. Be sure to stack the wood so that one side is exposed to sun and wind, allowing moisture to evaporate. If your firewood gets rained on, simply let it dry as rotting only occurs with prolonged exposure. If stored correctly, seasoned wood will last for many years.


How Long to Season Firewood

How you store your wood is essential to ensure your firewood can season without being disturbed. The time it takes to season firewood can vary depending on the type of wood you're using.

  • Ash burns most efficiently when split, stacked, and left for at least 6 months to season.
  • Maple can take from 6 months to a year to season properly, depending if you have soft or hard maple
  • Oak can take anywhere from 12 -24 months to season as it can contain high levels of water