Wood preservation


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Established Member
6 Mar 2019
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I’m planning to use an old stable as a workshop. The stable has some nice wood panelling on the walls some of which is in bad condition - woodworm, rot etc. I think this has been caused by previous damp (I’m hoping that will be vastly improved now that the building has a new slates and, for the first time, gutters!), probably horses kicking the bottom of the walls, and damp firewood being stored in it.

I don’t want to replace the panelling because I like the history of it, the building is listed, and it would cost too much anyway. However, I would like to slow the rot so that what’s left survives as long as possible, and perhaps restore the look of it a bit (without attempting to make it look “new”).

I’d welcome thoughts on how I might go about this. I’m assuming some sort of wood preservation treatment to kill any bugs/mould, perhaps a bit of wood hardener for the worst bits, a light sanding and some sort of finish to bring a bit of life back and add some protection.

Here’s a photo (if you click on it, it should appear the right way up). The wood in the background is the worst of it. The bottoms of the panels have completely gone, but I’m not worried about that as it will be largely covered by a workbench.


Any advice on products and techniques gratefully received.



(Ps the new “horse” in the stable is a Wrigley truck. It was made in Poole probably around 60 years ago. My Dad was a flower grower in Guernsey and used it daily for around 25 years. He recently restored it and I brought it back to the UK. It’s very useful in the garden.)


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Horses pee by the gallon, literally. This, along with the piles of damp shavings or straw, is why old stables rot around the bottom. Now, woodworm cannot survive in warm dry conditions, so if you can be sure of the internal environment in there, then you can use that knowledge to decide whether you need to treat the place with chemicals. The problem with chemicals in a timber frame is that they only work on the surfaces they contact, so in your case you would have to take either the inner or the outer skin of the building off to enable the spray to reach all of the surfaces of the timber frame. That would pretty well wreck your building. Therefore, I reckon your best bet is to make sure air can get everywhere, and that the building remains scrupulously warm and dry. Hoover up all the dust you can see now, and look for new dust appearing (which isn't easy in a workshop, I'll grant you).

Personally I'd be reliant on a damp meter before I moved any (untreated) timber in there, but would have no issues at all if the building was now dry and warm. There is SPAB advise on the matter easily findable on the interwebthingy, and this should put your mind at rest.

ETA............I think Guernsey might be in the UK.....
Thanks Mike

Yes, I can't take the paneling off without trashing it. I think it's going to be case of doing the best I can and keeping it under careful watch.

I'm hopefully the building will now be dry. Warmth will be more of a problem - it won't be heated - although it does at least now have some insulation in the roof which will help matters.


PS Guernsey is most definitely not part of the UK. It's part of the British Isles and is a Crown Dependency, but is not in the UK (and therefore not in the EU either).

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