i'm building a garden wall that runs around my backyard. it's about 3' tall.
i'm not sure what kind of lumber it is (a friend gave me a bunch of old
posts after he remodeled his garage). i'm planning on sanding down and
staining the outside portion of the wall with a proper stain, but what about
the inside where the earth will go? i hardly need to pay for premium stain
here. i just want to try to keep the wood intact for as long as i can. i
remember my grade 8 shop teacher told me i could use vegetable oil as a
cheap wood stain. is there something like this i could use for my garden
Your answer depends on how long you want it protected, what you want it
protected from, how concerned you are about appearance, what you are
willing to pay and how 'environmentally conscious' you are.
There are tradeoffs. There is no single correct answer.
If appearance doesn't matter and you don't have an environmental conscience,
try creosote or used motor oil. You get about a gallon at every oil change,
eh? Kills a lot of stuff, eaten by a select few critters, soaks deep into
the wood (esp. if applied in the heat of the day)
I use raw (not boiled) linseed oil on my garden structures. I just soak the
wood really good and pile the dirt in. Seems to work pretty well so far. I
had to take apart one planter after a little over 3 years to move it. The
tubafours (end grain exposed) hadn't handled things too well, but the rest
of the lumber was a whole lot better than I expected.
Bill, just curious, but why do you use raw linseed oil? Is it better
than boiled for protecting?
I've always used boiled linseed oil mixed 1:1 with turpentine & a dash
of Japan drier to coat tool handles. Makes a much better coating than
poly, IMO. I like the feel of it better. I was taught to use boiled
because it dried better. I've never used raw, though, so I don't
know. I think it would be pretty expensive to coat a fence in, at
least the way I soak it into the tool handles.
I've used old motor oil on stuff before & it's a really good protector.
Made a rabbit cage stand that sat in dirt out of cheap, SPF 1x3's &
coated it liberally with the stuff. It was about 10 or 12 years in
service before we moved & tossed it. Even where the boards dug into
the ground with a good seasoning of rabbit manure, were still in pretty
good condition. It's kind of messy though. Lean against the fence &
you'd stain clothes for quite a long time.
For a fence, to really protect it, you need to get the preservative in
where the rot sets in. That's the couple of inches either side of the
ground line & where the boards attach to the post. Those are the bug
infested, moisture retaining areas. I've never cared for face boards
or caps because they just promote rot, IMO.
If it were me, I'd probably go with something like Olympic or Cuprinol
stains. They're pretty good & come in lots of colors. They also dry
thoroughly, which motor oil doesn't. I think motor oil would be better
at protecting at the ground line, though.
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