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The Only Firewood Stacking Guide You’ll Ever Need

Behold the simple stack of firewood.  It’s tempting to think that it is nothing more than a pile of wood destined for the fireplace.  But in reality, that humble stack of firewood represents warmth for your home, entertainment for guests around the fire pit and countless campfire cooking adventures. 

In other words, there is a lot more to a stack of firewood than meets the eye.  That’s why so many people devote so much time and care into stacking it in the right spot, on the right rack and in just the right way.  And make no mistake, hardcore firewood gathers all have their own opinions on how to stack firewood the right way.

Who knew there was even a wrong way to stack firewood?!  There are dozens of ways to stack firewood right but just as many ways to stack it wrong.   

Do you want your firewood stack to season faster, stand up sturdier and look better?  Luckily, you came to the right place.  This is, after all, the only firewood stacking guide you’ll ever need.  Check it out below.

How not to fail when stacking firewood

Stacking firewood hardly seems so complex as to warrant an entire guide on the finer points of putting one log on top of another.  However, I have had my share of failures when it comes to stacking firewood.  I guess that makes me qualified then to suggest a few tips to help you avoid making the same mistakes.  

But first, what does it even mean to fail at stacking firewood?  Well, has your wood stack ever toppled over?  Does your firewood take a long time to season?  Or is your wood stack an ugly eyesore in the yard?  If you answered yes to any of the above, it could be said that your firewood stacking skills need work.

For those of you who want to stack firewood better than the Joneses, listen up.  There are only a handful of foundational tips you really need to avoid the major pitfalls of stacking firewood.

Tip #1:

Start with similar sized pieces.  It’s impossible to get a sturdy stack of wood if every piece of wood is a different size.  You might not have control over that if you buy your wood but you certainly do if you cut and split your own.  Firewood that has the same length can be stacked in tidy rows that not only look better but season faster too.

Tip #2:

Start with a level platform.  Whether you are stacking on 2x4s, pallets or on a metal rack, starting with a level foundation is crucial.  The main reason wood piles topple over is because they are not level.  It is along the long axis of your firewood where levelness matters.  Get that wrong and by the time your stack passes several feet in height, things get off balance.

Tip #3:

Keep an eye on the line.  A nice looking pile of wood that is sturdy enough to support its own weight is a true accomplishment.  Leveling up your firewood stacking game takes some serious focus on keeping things straight while you stack.  From the first piece of wood you lay down to the last log on top, everything should be vertically lined up.  Get one layer of wood a half inch off at the bottom and your stack becomes unbalanced by the time you get to the top.

Tip #4:

Stack in single rows.  Drying out your wood fast is the goal.  With single rows of stacked wood, you’ll get the most air circulation possible around every piece.  Putting three or more rows of wood together always slows down the seasoning process for the middle sections.  If time is not an issue or if space is limited for you, then by all means stack away.

Tip #5:

Location, location, location.  I get it.  Dealing with firewood can be a pain.  You touch it once to cut it, once to split it and again to stack it.  So, it makes sense to just pile it right where you split it.  However, resit that urge and stack your wood in the best place you have in the yard.  Even if it means touching every piece one more time.  Ideal locations to stack wood limit exposure to weather, have good air circulation and plenty of sunlight.  That way your firewood seasons faster and stays drier all year.  And throw a tarp over the top while you’re at it if it’s not under cover.

Should firewood be stacked bark up or down

This age old dilemma has been debated for generations and remains a standing argument for many.  Although, the modern firewood stacker has some science to rely on for a clearer answer.  

According to several forestry experts, bark up or down has little effect on drying time for firewood stacked under a cover.  However, storing wood bark side up on uncovered wood piles helps protect the underlying wood from moisture while bark side down allows water to collect in the u-shaped curve between the wood and bark.  This slows down the drying process and encourages rot.

There are some who firmly believe that unseasoned firewood that’s stacked and covered should be stored bark side down to allow for moisture to evaporate from the wood.  It does seem reasonable since bark acts as a moisture barrier to rising water vapor if stacked bark side up.  

Is it better to stack or pile firewood

Let’s face it.  The only reason anyone asks if it’s okay to just leave their firewood in a pile is because they are short on time, out of energy or both.  Keep in mind that you already put in the work to cut it and split it.  It would be a shame to end up with a pile of low quality firewood that barely burns in the fireplace simply due to laziness.

Even if you didn’t do the hard work and bought a cord of wood, leaving it in a heap where it was dropped off all winter is a good way to waste your hard earned money.

It is always better to stack your firewood as opposed to leaving it in a pile on the ground.  Not only will firewood in a pile not season properly, it also is more likely to decay and become infested with insects while it sits on the ground.  Stacking firewood on a rack not only gets it off the ground, it also helps your wood dry faster.

Should stacked firewood be covered

When you think about it, most of us use firewood to heat our homes in the fall and winter when the weather turns cold and wet.  Even if you don’t need it for heat and just like the occasional fire for a cozy atmosphere, you can appreciate the importance of dry wood.  

In mild, wet climates you should always keep your firewood covered to protect it from rain or snow.  The best practice is to cover wood immediately after stacking it.  Dry firewood burns hotter, more efficiently and with less smoke than damp wood.  Once your wood gets wet, it will take quite awhile to dry out again even if covered.  

Is it okay to stack firewood on the ground

It is never okay to stack firewood directly on the ground for several reasons.  First, constant moisture from the soil prevents drying.  This in turn leads to decay and infestations from termites, ants and other insects.  

It doesn’t take much to get your firewood off the ground either.  Something as simple as two strips of 2×2 boards on the ground is enough of a barrier between the wood and the ground to keep it in good shape.  Paving stones, wood pallets or firewood racks are all great ways to keep wood elevated and dry.

Remember to avoid stacking wood on any surface that allows moisture to pool underneath it, like a tarp.  The tarp might keep your wood off the ground but it collects water every time it rains.

How high can you stack firewood

Everyone’s situation is a little different.  If you’re like me and space is limited, then stacking higher is your only option.  Others may have enough open space to spread out their wood stacks.  In either case, the question remains.  How high should you stack firewood?  

Safety is ultimately the most important consideration when deciding how high to stack firewood.  Even if you stack your wood with the utmost of care, there is always a chance it can tip over.  This is especially dangerous for kids playing around a wood pile.  It’s also a danger to you as you remove wood from the stack.

For safety reasons, a self-supported firewood stack should never exceed 4 feet high.  Split logs contained in a woodshed can be stacked higher as long as there are supports along the sides that restrain every row of wood.  

At some point, it comes down to common sense.  Use your best judgement to determine what seems safe to you.  If you have the space, it is always better to have several smaller stacks.  Not only for safety but for more efficient seasoning. 

Can I stack firewood against my house

It sure would be convenient to keep a stack of firewood within easy reach of your back door.  Not to mention you could use your house eves to keep firewood dry, right?

As tempting as it sounds, never store firewood against your house.  Firewood stacks are a magnet for rodents and insects.  You would be giving them easy access to your home.  Plus, keeping wood against your house limits air flow between your siding and the wood.  As a result, your siding becomes vulnerable to damage from insects, mold and mildew.  

It is a good idea to always keep at least 20 feet of distance between your home and any firewood.  If you’re stacking wood against any other structure, like a garden shed, give at least 6 inches of space to allow for adequate ventilation around the wood.

5 best firewood racks for any situation

A quality firewood rack can be worth its weight in gold.  Not only does a rack keep your wood tidy, it also keeps your beautifully season firewood off the ground and out of the elements.  

However, I can tell you from personal experience that not all firewood racks are created equal.  Sorting through all the duds to find the best racks that can handle any stack of wood is a daunting task.  Finding one that suits your needs and budget at the same time is even harder.  

That’s why I put together the 5 best firewood racks to match anyone’s situation.  These are not just the cheap racks either.  These are the firewood racks actually worth buying.

Best heavy duty firewood rackWoodhaven Outdoor Rack

Woodhaven’s firewood racks are the last you’ll ever need to buy.  No other wood rack even comes close to matching it’s durability and ruggedness.  With its heavy gauge steel construction and weather proof powder coating, you can bet it will handle the elements.  Plus, all Woodhaven wood racks are easy to assemble using the high quality nuts and bolts included. 

Rack sizes range from 4 feet to 16 feet in length but I find the 8 foot rack perfect for a decent stash of wood in a small space.  You can pile wood up to 4 feet high on these racks and they still feel rock solid giving you piece of mind that your stack won’t tip over.  The 8 foot long Woodhaven rack holds approximately 1/3 cord of wood when full.  Need to stack more?  The 16 foot rack holds nearly 2/3 of a cord.  

Each Woodhaven rack also comes with a waterproof top cover that shields the upper logs from moisture while allowing for proper seasoning of wood further down the stack.  As you work your way through the wood, the cover lowers to ensure you always have completely dry wood ready to burn.

Best budget friendly firewood rackAmagabeli Outdoor Rack

You don’t always need the most heavy duty firewood rack to get the job done.  Sometimes all you need is a budget friendly solution to your wood storage needs.  That’s where the Amagabeli Outdoor Wood Rack comes in.  At less than $60, you can have your wood off the ground and ready to season on a sturdy platform that will resist whatever Mother Nature throws its way.  

Both the 4 foot and 8 foot version are made of tubular steel that bolts together fast and easy.  While the design might appear flimsy, it is up to the task of holding the weight.  

Best customizable firewood rackMofeez Wood Rack Bracket Kit

One of my favorite wood racks on this list is the Mofeez Bracket Kit.  This is the ultimate in wood rack customization.  The length of your wood rack is entirely in your control.  Mofeez brackets are made of thick, rigid steel and require 2×4 lumber to put together.  You get 2 brackets and all the screws to assemble it.  I recommend you swap out the included screws for better quality wood screws though.  

There are several other bracket kits available but none are made with the same quality.  A durable coating resists rust better than the competition and the youthful addition of drain holes in the vertical post slots extends the life of your firewood rack.  When you want the ability to make any length wood rack, don’t pass this one up.

Best covered firewood rackAmagabeli Wood Rack with Cover

Dry firewood is the goal and the Amagabeli Wood Rack with Cover is how you ensure dry wood is always handy.  This stout rack is the same great rack I recommend as my budget pick with the added bonus of a 100% waterproof cover.  It’s a great way to store your already seasoned firewood fully protected from rain, sleet or snow.  

You can be confident that the cover won’t blow away in the wind since it securely fastens around the wood.  The built in vents combined with open space at the bottom allows for sufficient air flow to keep your firewood from collecting moisture.  

Best indoor firewood rackEclume Hammered Steel Rack

You don’t need an outdoor firewood rack to be a work of art.  It simply needs to be durable enough to store heavy stacks of wood.  But once you stack a bundle of wood next to your fireplace, function and beauty become a priority.  No other indoor wood rack comes close to matching the craftsmanship of Eclume wood racks.  

These racks are made to impress with simple elegance and straightforward functionality.  Go ahead and waste your money on lesser racks that wobble on uneven legs.  However, I suggest you buy an Eclume Hammered Steel Rack instead.  Every rack is handmade by blacksmiths in the USA and are crafted to look good and last a lifetime.

DIY firewood racks

There are countless creative ways to build firewood racks from spare materials you have laying around.  Among the easiest to build are pallet racks.  Use reclaimed pallets to create any sized rack, with or without sides.  You can even use pallets to build a full blown wood shed. 

Another easy DIY firewood rack uses nothing but 4-6 cinder blocks and some scrap 2x4s.  Simply place the blocks at equal spacings in a line parallel to each other.  Span a couple 2x4s across the blocks as the bottom support and then place two vertical 2x4s in the open holes of the cinder blocks at each end.  

Take a look at this blog post by TheGardenGlove.com where they show you how to make this DIY wood rack and several more awesome wood storage projects.

How to stack firewood without racks

It is possible to stack firewood without the benefit of a rack.  This is great news for anyone not willing to shell out their money on expensive racks or wanting to take the time to build a DIY rack.  Stacking firewood without a rack requires the wood to be self-supporting.  With some technique, anyone can accomplish this.

All you really need is a few wood boards, like 2x4s or 2x2s, and a little patience.  Remember, the goal to to make a stack that won’t collapse at the ends or fall over sideways.  You also need to keep your wood off the ground.  

To start, find a level spot and lay down the boards parallel to each other and about a foot apart.  Ideally, your stack should be 6 to 8 feet long.  The very ends of your wood stack will be supported with a pillar of crisscrossed logs.  Use uniform logs to stack four pieces one direction followed by four more pieces on top, turned 90 degrees.  Alternate in this way until you have a criss crossed pillar 3-4 feet tall at each end.  Now you can stack wood lengthwise across the boards between the end pillars.  

The pillars provide sturdy book ends to keep your wood pile from collapsing.  Follow my earlier tips on how not to fail at stacking wood to make sure you get the best stacked wood possible.  

The benefits of firewood sheds

For those of you with space to spare, a woodshed might be the ideal way to stack and season your wood.  A well built shed does two things.  It keeps rain and snow off your wood and maximizes air flow throughout the stack.  All other means of stacking wood, whether it be pre-made racks, DIY racks or no rack, all fail at some point to protect your wood in extreme conditions.  

Wood sheds, on the other hand, keep your wood perfectly dry all the time.  Here are just a few of the benefits of having a wood shed.

  • Fully roofed to eliminate moisture on the wood
  • Excellent air circulation on all sides (Assuming it’s designed right)
  • Great way to store one or many cords of wood for long term use
  • Keeps wood clean and free of insects
  • Looks nicer than most other ways of stacking wood.  No ugly tarps!
  • Relatively inexpensive to build
  • Completely customizable for any space
  • Lasts a long time  

Maybe you have a hard time getting your wood to season properly or you simply want to tidy up the yard.  If you have the option, a wood shed is a worthwhile project.

More things to know

I’m sure you are not interested in reading an entire novel about firewood but incase you just can’t get enough, there is plenty more to learn.  Don’t pass up your chance to become a firewood expert.  Check out some of my other popular posts that answer your most pressing firewood questions.