After firewood has been split, all that remains is to store it. While this sounds simple, it’s essential to get it right. Otherwise, you may end up with wood that takes forever to season. Worse yet, you’ll have a pile of rotten and moldy burning material that stinks out the house.
Thankfully, wood storage is easy if you know how. This guide looks at how to store wood for the best results. We outline stacking methods from around the world and answer commonly asked questions about storing firewood.
How to stack firewood – 7 ways
1. Firewood rack method
A firewood rack is one of the best ways to store firewood. This option requires an investment, but it’s good for keeping firewood off the ground and saving time stacking.
Firewood racks come in a wide range of sizes and styles to suit any property. With most of them, it’s as simple as laying rows of wood on top of each other, all facing the same way. Be sure to point the cut ends towards the prevailing wind and sunlight.
Position racks near the house for convenience, but not too close. This strategy will help keep wood-loving critters away from your home.
Note: You may also like to read our guide to firewood BTU which includes a comprehensive chart of all the common firewood types.
2. Criss cross method
The criss cross method is a popular, easy way to stack wood. It is ideal for beginner stackers and looks neat against a wall.
- Lay down planks or pallets as a base to keep away moisture from the ground.
- Start at one side, and lay 3-8 bits of firewood next to each other, facing the same way.
- Lay a second layer on top of the first, facing the other way.
- Continue building this section of wall until you’re happy with the height.
- Build the second pillar of wood a few inches from the first to encourage airflow. Continue building rows with small gaps until all the wood is used.
3. German method
German wood stacks are highly effective for encouraging airflow. The roof repels snow and rain, and the circular shape looks impressive in any backyard.
For a neat-looking, even design, it is important to use uniform pieces of wood. Use the middle for tossing in odd-shaped wood.
- Select a stable, level spot that is easy to get to and clear of debris. Check that the area receives plenty of sunlight and exposure to wind.
- Work out how big you want your stack to be. A six-foot diameter design with a height of four feet will take one cord of firewood. One with an eight-foot diameter and a height of five feet will house a little over two cords.
- Drive a stick into the ground to mark the center of the round, then tie a string to it. Measure the required distance using a tape measure; use the string to guide laying out the base.
- Lay split logs around the circumference, using the string to get a neat, even circle. This layer is placed at right angles to the line. Once the outer ring is complete, start stacking wood, pointing directly toward the circle’s center.
- Work around the pile until it reaches one foot high, then toss misshaped logs into the middle. You can also throw even-shaped bits into the center until they reach the top.
- Make another row of logs circling the circle’s perimeter. This step helps keep the wood angled inward, making it more stable.
- Build up the outer wall until you reach the desired height, then fill in the middle section. The inner area should be a little higher than the exterior wall.
- Place logs on the top with the bark facing upwards in a shingle design.
Other names for this method include the beehive stack, round stack, wood house (Holz hausen), and woodpile (Holzhaufen).
4. End pillar method
The end pillar method is popular in the United States and looks impressive. It is usually best practice to face the cut ends of the firewood in an east-west direction. This practice exposes them to more sunlight and wind, speeding the drying process.
Before getting started, lay some pallets or planks on the ground where the wood stack will lay. A base helps keep moisture in the soil from getting to the firewood. If you’re building on gravel, a base isn’t so important.
- Build pillar one by laying 3-4 firewood pieces next to each other. Lay a second layer on top of the first, facing the opposite way.
- Repeat step one until the pillar is at a suitable height. A 9-12 row pile is typically a good height.
- Build a second pillar where you expect the stack will end, repeating steps 1 and 2.
- In between the two pillars, build a wall with firewood that reaches the supporting pillars. Face all the cut ends towards the prevailing wind.
- If necessary, use sticks or planks to bolster the wood pile.
The end pillar method works best if the wood between the pillars is stacked in a loose, irregular style. Gaps will encourage airflow between the wood.
5. Norwegian method
The Norwegian method is similar to a German stack. This house-like structure has excellent airflow, saves space, and looks good in any yard. It is also a good option if you have a lot of twisted wood.
- Lay 2x4s or pallets as a support base where the firewood pile will lie.
- Lay the logs next to each other in a circular pattern to form a complete circle.
- Throw misshapen wood into the center of the pile as it gets built.
- Repeat step 2 until a cylindrical wall reaches around 3 ½ feet high. Then lay a few more rows with the wood a little closer to the middle of the circle for support.
- Top the stack with wood that has its bark facing up.
6. Shaker Method
The shaker or Amish method is an old technique that holds a lot of firewood and repels water. They’re also easier to construct than similar styles like German or Norwegian stacks.
- Choose a central point for the stack, then lay a circle of wood around it in a hub and spoke pattern.
- Lay a second concentric ring of split logs around the first, then repeat with a third, depending on how big you want the structure to be.
- Continue building upwards, following the same pattern until it reaches shoulder height. Shape the stack’s top inward, so it forms a cone shape.
- Layer the woodpile’s top with shingles riven from logs or splits with the bark facing up.
Tip: To improve airflow, use a length of perforated plastic pipe as a center pole. Cover the top with a tin stovepipe cap to draw air from the stack.
7. Basic rectangle method
Also known as the American stacking method, this is a quick and easy way to store firewood until it’s needed.
- Find suitable support like the side of a shed or a wall, then lay down a base to build on.
- Lay a row of firewood perpendicular to the support wall.
- Add a second layer of wood in the opposite direction, parallel to the wall.
- Continue criss-crossing further layers until you achieve the right height.
How to cover wood
During bad weather, it is best to cover exposed firewood. Tarps are a popular option that are durable and easy to attach. You can secure the tarp with bungee cords attached to tent stakes in the ground.
Some firewood racks have breathable covers to protect the whole pile. These are okay for dry wood but aren’t recommended for green wood.
In most cases, it is best to cover the stack’s top portion to allow air to circulate. If you must cover the whole pile, then be sure to remove it once the weather clears.
If you’re unsure what to cover the stack with, check out these best materials for covering firewood to get some ideas.
How much space should I allow for a wood shed?
A wood shed or shelter is ideal for protecting the stack from rain while allowing in wind and sunlight. It can range greatly in size depending on the needs of your household. Here are some ballpark dimensions to get you started.
|Storage capacity||Shed dimensions (feet)||Best for|
|7 cords||10 x 20 x 8||Highly reliant on wood for heating and cooking|
|5.25 cords||10 x 15 x 8||Fires most nights|
|3.5 cords||10 x 10 x 8||3-4 fires weekly|
|0.5 cords||5 x 3.5 x 5||Occasional fires|
Tip: You can also read our guide on the ideal length to cut firewood.
Commonly asked questions
How can I tell if my firewood is properly seasoned?
Firewood ready to burn will have lost its color and smell while feeling dense and light for its size. Look for cracks in the ends and listen for a hollow sound when knocked against another log. You can also invest in a moisture meter to ensure the log’s moisture has dropped below 20%.
Can I store firewood on the ground?
It is usually best to store firewood off the ground to promote air circulation. A gap also helps keep moisture, bacteria, and bugs away from the wood stack.
Can I store firewood inside the home?
Although neatly stacked logs look good inside the house, they are homes to spiders, ants, termites, and many other insects. Making a fake stack using treated wood is better to avoid unwanted infestations.
Does firewood need to be covered?
Only cover the top of the wood you intend using this season. Wood that won’t get used until following years can be left uncovered. Leaving it open gives the wood more airflow and less chance for mold to develop under the tarp.
Can I store firewood in the garage?
It is best to store unseasoned wood outside so that it gets exposed to sunlight and wind. Dried wood can be kept in the garage, but wood-boring insects may find a new home in its framework.
Is it okay to stack firewood next to a house?
Although a house provides good stability and some shelter for the wood, try to avoid stacking firewood against the house. Pests within the pile may venture into your home, and the wood is flammable, which creates a fire hazard.
How long can you store firewood?
Wood will last at least four years if it is stacked correctly and doesn’t have regular contact with moisture.
Is rotten wood okay to burn?
Rotten wood often stinks and gives off creosote as it burns. It is also less dense, which burns quickly and gives off less heat.
Should firewood be stacked bark side up or down?
Stacking firewood with the bark facing up is a good idea as it acts as a protective layer from rain. Facing it down can cause rain to pool inside the bark, slowing seasoning and causing rot.
What is the ideal height for a firewood stack?
Most firewood piles will range from 4-6′ high. Keep in mind that space availability, size of person stacking, and rack dimensions affect the maximum height.
Can firewood get rained on?
Occasional rainfall won’t cause serious harm to seasoned or unseasoned firewood. But too much moisture can lead to mold and rot, so a wood shed or tarp is helpful in wet areas.
Tips for storing firewood
Check out this firewood storage advice to keep your wood in good condition and speed up the drying process.
- Minimize bugs: only bring two days of wood into the house and keep the rest outside.
- Create gaps: stack firewood with a 3-5″ space between each row to increase air circulation.
- Avoid pesticides: never spray firewood with chemicals to get rid of bugs, as they are highly flammable.
- Fell at the right time: chop down firewood trees between winter and early spring when sap and moisture content is less.
- Protect the stack: use a tarp or store in a woodshed to protect the firewood from rain and snow.
- Try to avoid dirt: It’s better to store firewood on concrete, gravel, asphalt, or other hard surfaces. Use dirt as the last resort.
- Position correctly: reduce the drying time by avoiding damp, shade-prone areas.
- Raise the wood: lay the split logs on a pallet to encourage airflow underneath the stack.
- Split the wood: increase the surface area exposed to heat and wind.
- Use the FIFO rule: to reduce pest infestations and rot, use the oldest wood in the stack first.
- Stack loosely: A tight pile of firewood saves space but restricts airflow, which slows down the curing time.
- Overlap stacks: While building straight vertical rows of wood is quick and easy, stability is sacrificed. Overlapping each row is safer if you have kids and pets.
- Keep the area weed free: Long grass and weeds reduce airflow and encourage moisture and insects.
- Take care of living trees: while trees make functional bookends for stacks, they can sustain damage from the added weight.
If you found these ideas useful, also read our tips for splitting wood.
Proper firewood storage technique will significantly impact the wood’s quality and how long it takes to season. Beautifully made stacks that look like wooden houses offer valuable benefits like stability and improved airflow. But for most, the basic criss cross method, constructed in a row, will work perfectly fine.
Always remember that water and soil are the biggest threats when making wood stacks. Do everything you can to minimize these while maximizing exposure to sun and wind. Get this right, and you’ll enjoy good-quality wood free from mold, rot, disease, and infestations.