What is Pine Tar – What is it Used for?

pine tar wood treatment

Pine tar has been in use for many centuries as a natural substance that protects wood from moisture and ultraviolet light.

It’s a kind of dark blackish-brown viscous liquid produced by burning the stumps and roots of pine trees that have been cut down.

It does take a special kiln to fully extract the pine tar from the wood.

But the substance is still in use today on wooden exteriors where paint is not desired.

Pine Tar Uses

The advantages of pine tar are considerable because of its versatility.

Besides protecting wood from external elements, pine tar also repels insects, provides a protective barrier that allows the wood to breathe, and can even be used as a mild antiseptic.

In addition to its attributes, the pine tar wood finish is easy to maintain.

This means that when applied to wood exposed to the elements, it will last for many years without the need to add more protection.

This is partly because the substance provides a protective barrier without trapping moisture inside.

Where to Use Pine Tar?

Pine tar is the perfect solution if you want a stain-like finish for wood that is exposed to the elements.

It is ideal to use finish for the following items.

  • Barns & Outbuildings
  • Decks, Porches, & Fences
  • Underground Wooden Posts
  • Wide Plank Siding, Fence Posts, & More

A 50/50 mixture of pine tar with Viking Purified Raw Linseed Oil will cover an area of approximately 600 square feet.

pine tar wood finish

Can Pine Tar be Used on Pressure-Treated Wood?

Pine tar can be used on pressure-treated wood, but it is not necessary.

Pressure-treated wood already has a preservative in it. Pine tar can be used if you want to add an extra layer of protection to the wood.

That said, Pine Tar works as an excellent wood preservative for untreated wood.

It’s, in fact, an excellent substitute for pressure-treated wood where the latter is unavailable.

Pine Tar fluid particularly works great for preserving the wood used underground. Mix it with the right oil medium and it will penetrate the wood deeply to increase its durability.

Remember Before Painting with Pine Tar Wood Treatment

Although pine tar is applied to the surface in a similar manner to paint – it is not paint.

It’s rather an excellent wood treatment product.

There are some factors you will need to consider before purchasing pine tar for your next project and painting with it.

1- Only Wood:

Swedish pine tar is only used on wooden surfaces. It cannot be used on surfaces that have been coated with petrochemicals.

This is because you will not be coating the wood with the pine tar but rather with the barrier of petrochemicals, which will not work.

This barrier will mean that the pine tar sits on the surface and does not penetrate the wood.

If you try to mix raw linseed oil with Swedish pine tar, you will only get a product that is rancid and cannot be used to coat anything.

Plus, Swedish pine tar is only used for exterior applications.

So, trying to apply it to furniture or other items that sit inside is arguably not the best use of the product.

Only use Swedish pine tar for fences, fence posts, wood exteriors, and the like.

2- Dilute & Warm It Up:

Pine tar is quite viscous, but it will need to be diluted and warmed before it can be applied.

The best method is to add 20% gum turpentine and then warm it up to 60 degrees Celsius or 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Then you can start applying it to a wood surface.

You can also mix it 50/50 with pure raw linseed oil if you want the pine tar to dry properly.

You may have to change the ratio depending on the wood surface.

3- Use a Wide Brush:

Generally speaking, a brush that is 70 to 100mm wide is the best type of brush to use when applying pine tar.

It will help even out the application, and the mixture should be absorbed by the wood rather quickly.

4- Mix It Properly:

If you have kept cans of pine tar in storage for some time, then the pigment will probably have sunk to the bottom.

This means mixing it thoroughly while diluting it to get the right effect.

If you want to keep the color uniform, be sure to stir the can every so often to ensure that the pine tar is even.

5- Different Looks:

The appearance of pine tar can vary depending on how it is mixed and the wood to which it is applied.

In addition, the species of pine from which the tar is made can determine its appearance.

You may get a light or dark appearance, but it should be consistent if you paint it all in one coat at one time.

Also, remember that if the wood has too much moisture, the pine tar will simply sit on the surface. So, be sure to fully dry the wood before applying the pine tar.

Pine Tar Alternatives – The Best Wood Treatment Substitutes?

Based on your location or climate, you may not be able to find pine tar.

If that’s the case, there are some of the best substitutes for pine tar that can be used to finish your wood surfaces.

These include:

  • Eco Wood Treatment
  • Lifetime Wood Treatment
  • Timber Pro UV transparent finish

All these products penetrate deep into the wood to make it water-resistant while protecting it from rot, insects, and water damage.

Some of them also don’t change the color of the wood as pine tar does.

The Bottom Line

To sum it up, pine tar is an excellent wood preservative that can easily replace pressure-treated wood.

However, you must mix it with the right oil to ensure that the pine tar penetrates the wood deeply.

The above is all about how you properly mix and apply pine tar to wooden surfaces.

Hopefully, the tips will help you next time you plan to use this wood treatment product for your project.

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