What is Pine Tar – What is it Used for?

pine tar wood treatment

Pine tar has been in use for 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 extract the pine tar from the wood fully. But the substance is still in use today on wooden exteriors where paint is not desired.

Pine Tar Uses and Applications

The advantages of pine tar are considerable because of its versatility. Besides protecting wood from external elements, it 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, which means that when applied to wood exposed to the elements, it will help last the wood for many years without the need to add more protection. This is partly because the substance provides a protective barrier without trapping moisture inside.

Pine tar is also the perfect solution if you want a stain-like finish for wood exposed to the elements. It’s ideal to use this 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.

And the good thing is you might only need to apply additional tar every five to ten years, depending on your location’s weather conditions and the quality of the wood, as it won’t bubble or peel as paint does.

Can Pine Tar Be Used on Pressure-Treated Wood?

Pine tar can be used on pressure-treated wood, but it’s not necessary because the treated wood already has a preservative in it for the required protection.

However, if you really want to, it can be added as an extra layer of protection to the wood.

That said, Pine Tar works as one of the best wood preservatives for untreated wood. It’s, in fact, an excellent substitute for pressure-treated timber where the latter is unavailable.

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

pine tar wood finish

Things to Remember Before Using Pine Tar

Although pine tar is applied to the surface as you apply the paint – it’s not actually the paint. It’s instead an excellent wood treatment product.

This means you will need to consider some crucial aspects before purchasing pine tar for your next project and painting with it.

1- Only Exterior Wood:

Swedish pine tar is only good to use for exterior applications such as fences, fence posts, siding, etc. Applying it to furniture or other items that sit inside is arguably not the best use of the product.

Also, keep in mind that pine tar should only be used on bare wooden surfaces that have not been coated with petrochemicals, such as solvents, paints, epoxy resins, pesticides, etc.

If you try to do so, you will not be coating the wood with pine tar but rather with the barrier of petrochemicals, which will not work. This barrier will mean the pine tar sits on the surface and does not penetrate the wood.

2- Dilute & Warm It Up:

Pine tar is quite viscous, so it must be diluted and warmed before it can be applied. The best method is to add 20% gum turpentine and warm it to 60 degrees Celsius (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 appropriately fast. Depending on the wood surface, project requirement, and climatic conditions, you may change the ratio of the mixture if you want.

3- Use a Wide Brush:

Generally speaking, a 70 to 100-mm wide brush is the best type of paintbrush to use when applying pine tar. It will help even out the application and let the mixture be absorbed by the wood rather quickly.

4- Mix It Properly:

If you have kept cans of pine tar in storage for some time, the pigment will probably have sunk to the bottom. This means mixing it thoroughly while diluting it to get the right effect is important before you apply it.

Also, if you want to keep the color uniform, stir the can every so often to ensure that the pine tar is even during the entire project.

5- Different Looks:

The appearance of pine tar can vary significantly depending on how it is mixed and the type of 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?

Pine tar is not so popular and readily available, and based on your location or climate, you may not be able to find it. If that’s the case, some of the best substitutes for pine tar 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, mix it with the right oil and apply it correctly to ensure it penetrates the wood deeply.

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

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