How To Protect & Seal Your Waterfront Wood | SEAL-ONCE© How To Protect & Seal Your Waterfront Wood | SEAL-ONCE©

How To Protect & Seal Your Waterfront Wood

waterproofed wood - close up of wooden table sealed from water

Watermelons growing isn’t the only thing that happens down by the Bay. Water damage is a real concern for waterfront properties and structures.

As picturesque as living by the water is, it can deteriorate wood quickly. Do you have a dock, patio, or gorgeous Adirondack chairs near the water’s edge?

To keep your wood structures beautiful and safe, you need to know how to waterproof and protect your wood against the elements of waterfront living.

Here we’ll share must-have tips for protecting your wood and prolonging both its appearance and lifespan.

Why Waterproof?

You may be thinking, “Do I really need to waterproof wood?” After all, isn’t it made for outdoor use? While you do have a point, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

This is especially true when discussing wood for waterfront property.

Do you have a gorgeous deck, dock, or wood chairs on the water’s edge? These items need extra protection against the elements.

Depending on where your home is located, saltwater is especially damaging. Treating your wood with a marine-grade wood sealer is your first defense against permanent damage.

Untreated wood is at risk for rotting, splitting, warping, and mold. Damage also happens fast — within 48 hours in some cases.

Three Causes of Decay in Waterfront Wood

It’s probably no surprise that any wood structure along the water’s edge is more susceptible to break down and water damage. After all, it’s exposed for prolonged periods of time.

The good news is, knowing the causes can help you protect it and prolong its lifespan.


Splintering is one of the most common forms of wood damage to waterfront structures like docks and decks.

Salt in most seawater accumulates on the wood over time, weakening it. Wood structures also soak-up the salt, causing decay from the inside out. The wood fibers then separate and the wood appears splintered.

Not only is this aesthetically unpleasant, but it compromises the structural integrity and strength of the piece.


You can’t fight biology. Some external factors are out of your control.

Waterfront wood is especially susceptible to fungi and insects that use it for nesting and food.

Wood decay fungi fall into two main groups — white rot and brown rot.

Brown rot is visible on untreated wood structures. It causes shrinkage when dry and makes the wood brittle. Brown rot is most common on waterfront structures made of Douglas fir and pine.

If your waterfront structures are made of a hardwood like oak, you may encounter white rot. Although rot doesn’t cause shrinkage or warping, it will affect the appearance of your wood. Common imperfections include flecks of dark lines and spots of white or tan discoloration.

Although less common, insects like termites, beetles, and ants can also damage waterfront wood structures.


Lastly, there are chemical interactions to contend with when preserving your waterfront wood.

Depending on the design of the piece, certain areas of the wood membranes can trap water, creating prolonged exposure and damage.

Water that runs alongside nuts and bolts can enter the wood, carrying fungus spores that infect the structure from the inside out.

Learn How to Waterproof Wood the Right Way

Although your waterfront wood structures are at greater risk for damage, not all hope is lost. With a little planning, you can keep your wood looking and functioning like the day you purchased or installed it.

Knowing how to waterproof decks, docks, and waterfront furniture is your best defense against damage and premature deterioration. Waterproofing wood is an investment in its longevity.

The waterproofing process includes preparing and sanding the entire structure until smooth and applying several coast of marine wood sealer. These sealers are designed specifically for use on waterfront structures and furniture.

Choose one that compliments your taste and your needs.

Waterproofing Your Wood is an Investment

If you live at the water’s edge, you want to take full advantage of your surroundings. That means building a waterfront wood structure to use and enjoy.

It’s also important to know how to waterproof and protect these pieces from damage and decay. Marine waterproof sealers are the best option for extending the lifespan and improving the appearance of your wood structures.

Now that you know how to waterproof wood, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy waterfront living.

Ready to tackle another project? We can help!