Wood: waterproofing your deck and making fire starters

Wood is great for decks...and great for burning! Follow these instructions to keep water away from your precious deck, and to make convenient fire starters for your outdoor fire pit or barbecue.

Wood: waterproofing your deck and making fire starters

Water repellent for exposed wood

  • Try this recipe for a long-lasting, waterproof coating for decks, shutters and other wooden items that are exposed to the elements.
  • If you plan to stain the wood, do so before applying the water repellent.
  • If you want to paint or varnish, apply the water repellent first and allow it to dry before painting or varnishing.

What you need

  • 1 L (4 c) exterior varnish, either spar (marine) or polyurethane
  • A clean 4 L (1 gal) paint can
  • 225 g (1 c) grated paraffin wax
  • 1 stirring stick
  • Mineral spirits
  • Paintbrush or roller

What to do

1. Pour varnish into can. Add wax and stir slowly until wax dissolves.

2. Add mineral spirits until the can is full, and stir slowly to mix all ingredients, without creating air bubbles.

3. Brush or roll the treatment onto raw or stained wood and allow to dry for four hours before using, painting or varnishing.

4. If you want to paint the wood, prime with oil primer after the water repellent dries, allow primer to dry as directed on package label, then paint.

Fire starters

If you use this simple recipe to make your own fire starters, you'll never have to dash to the hardware store at the last minute when you'd rather be enjoying your patio firepit or charcoal grill.

What you need

  • Scraps of particleboard or kindling
  • 500 g (1 lb) paraffin wax
  • Cake cooling rack

What to do

1. Melt paraffin in the top of a double boiler over low heat or in a slow cooker set on low heat.

2. Dip wood scraps into the melted wax to cover completely, remove and set on the cooling rack to harden.

3. When the wax cools, store the waxed scraps in an old coffee can in a cool place. To use, place one or two scraps at the bottom of your firepit or charcoal grill and stack logs or charcoal over them. Use a long-handled match to light the waxed starters, which will act as long-burning igniters for your fire.

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