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How to Waterproof Tree Stumps |Step-by-Step Guide

Tree stumps are excellent décor items that you can use both outdoors and indoors. If you want your carefully saw-trimmed tree stumps to last longer, you need to seal them.

I’m a big fan of tree stumps. I placed a few tree stumps in my garden and I use them as chairs. Obviously, when you keep them outside, you need to prevent the stumps from rotting and decaying.

The sooner you do this, the better. Stumps can take up to 10 years to completely decompose. But once the process starts, it will affect the quality and the beauty of the stump.

Fungi are the ones responsible for the decaying process. Add rain water to the process and your beautiful tree stumps will become a pile of sawdust-like material in just a few years’ time. But there’s a way to avoid that.

In this guide, I’m going to show you how you can seal your stumps so as to make them waterproof and protect them against the elements.

How to Make Tree Stumps Waterproof

1. Sand the stump

The stump top should have a smooth surface so make sure to even out any lumps. To do this, you can use high-grit sandpaper. Simply rub the paper against the stump until the surface is smooth and even.

Once you’re done, use fine-grit sandpaper to completely smooth out the surface.

2. Clean the stump with a cloth

Use a damp cloth to remove dust, dirt and other debris. This step is necessary especially after having used  sandpaper.

There will be plenty of small wood pieces resulting after this process that you need to remove. You can first use a small brush to do that and then the damp cloth.

⇒ Learn more: 3 Waterproofing Solutions for Pressure Treated Wood

3. Apply a layer of wood sealant

This is the most important step. Take a medium brush and use it to apply the first layer of wood sealant. Make sure to cover the whole surface.

You don’t need to apply a thick layer as it will take longer to dry. Moreover, the layer may also form air bubbles which will ruin the stump’s aesthetics. Let the sealant dry for 48 hours.

If you don’t know what waterproofing solutions to use for wood, here are two of the best products I’ve used.

  • Thompsons Waterseal Natural Wood Protector

I like this product because you can use it on both damp or dry wood.  This comes in handy if you’re in a hurry and you want to seal your tree stumps as soon as possible even if they haven’t dried out completely. If time is not an issue, I strongly suggest you wait until the stumps have dried.


You can use just one layer. Bug again, I suggest you apply two layers of sealant just in case.

This product will give your tree stumps a yellow tint which I think is great. I really liked the end result and my stumps are still waterproof almost two years after I used this product.

  • TriCoPolymer VOC free non toxic lumber-seal

Now, if you’re looking for an eco-friendly non-toxic product, you may want to try out this one. But I should tell you from the very beginner you will need to apply a new layer of product after one year.

The solution simply soaks into the wood and the best part is that is has no smell. This is a major advantage since most waterproofing solutions have a specific smell. The product is safe for animals as well.

Alright, now that we’ve seen what products you can use to get the job done, let’s see what you need to do next.

4. Apply a second layer of wood sealant

Once the first layer of wood sealant has dried, you can apply a second layer. Let it dry completely for another 48 hours. Your tree stumps are now waterproof.

Important note

Before starting to waterproof  your tree stumps, you need to make sure they’re completely dried out. If you apply any waterproofing solution on damp stumps, they may still rot. Even if certain products can be used on damp wood, I do recommend that you wait until your tree stumps have dried and only then apply a layer of sealant.

FAQ

How long does a tree stump take to dry out? 

Keep in mind that a stump needs at least four weeks to dry out in an open air environment. Place the stumps in an airy place but not directly under sunlight to prevent wood from splitting.

Do tree stumps attract termites?

Decaying tree stumps attract terminates and other bugs. By sealing the surface of your stumps using special wood sealing products, you also protect them against wood-boring beetles and termites.

Conclusion

To make tree stumps waterproof, first even out any lumps using sandpaper. Then clean the stumps with a cloth to remove dust, dirt and other debris. Apply a first layer of wood sealant and let it dry for 48 hours. Then apply a second layer of sealant after 48 hours.

So, there you have the steps you need to follow in order to preserve your tree stumps and make them waterproof.

Comment below and let me know if you used other methods to get the job done.

⇒ Learn more:

Last updated in October 2021 to add additional information.

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