how to treat barn wood for indoor use
Kristina Davis

I immediately studied and researched how to treat barn wood for indoor use the moment I got my hands on them.

It’s a thrifty and efficient approach by using old, unused wood as an added touch to the interior of my home.

And although the process wasn’t a walk in the park, I am overjoyed by how they turned out to be.

To treat, clean, and reuse barn wood for your home, prepare all materials you will need for the process. Then, start by cleaning the wood lightly, and then make sure to remove bugs and insects using a steamer, or a mixture of borax and water spray, then seal the wood.

Now, in my journey of understanding the process, I came across 2 options: having it professionally treated and treating it yourself at home.

To initiate the discussion, let me expound on these professional options I mentioned that you have in treating your barn wood.

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Having Your Barn Wood Treated Professionally

treating barn wood professionally

If you have the time, money, and patience, then I would suggest having it professionally treated.

The methods done by professionals are safe, secure, and highly effective.

Not only that, but you also have the guarantee that the barn wood you’ll use inside your home is clean and free from unwanted pests!

You’ll be hitting 2 birds with a single stone!

You have 2 choices if you go the professional route: kiln-drying and milling.

Kiln-Drying Barn Wood

Kiln-drying is the process of baking the wood inside a kiln, an oven of some sort to remove the moisture in the wood.

Wealthy people go this route because it’s faster, safer, and definitely effective. The only drawback is that the price of this service is not a joke.

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This is because it does not only clean the wood, but also disinfects it, rids it of all the insects and bugs that could be lurking inside, and can ensure that the wood is perfectly balanced and stable.

I tried this once and I was, I can say, happy about it because I got my barn wood within the day, but my wallet wasn’t.

Milling Barn Wood

milling barn wood

Milling, on the other hand, is the process of smoothing and perfecting the exterior form of the wood.

The process flattens, squares, and enhances the overall physicality of the wood, creating a cleaner and smoother finish.

It’s a far less expensive procedure than kiln-drying, but it’s not also that effective in exterminating bacteria, viruses, molds, and fungi.

Did those not entice you because you’re more interested to learn the complete process of cleaning, treating, and disinfecting to the end process of how to seal barn wood for indoor use?

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I got you!

How to Treat Barn Wood For Indoor Use at Home?

treat barn wood

Throughout my entire time figuring this out, I learned one thing: that doing the process at home can save you a lot of money but at the cost of your time and patience.

Without further ado, here are the methods you can do to treat your barn wood successfully and properly at home.

Method #1: The Regular Cleaning Method

This standard cleaning method is something that we are all familiar with. It’s a method you can do using soap, a regular garden hose, and a bristle brush or a sponge.

Clean the wood using the hose and soften stuck debris as best as you can. Then, soap and scrub it down with the sponge or the bristle brush.

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Spray it off again with water and repeat until all dirt is removed.

Then, dry it out under the sun for at least 2 hours to ensure that they don’t absorb a lot of moisture. Moisture is the number one enemy of wood, so, take care.

Note: I typically use a mild detergent because they’re powerful and they’re fragrant.

Method #2: Pressure Washer Method

use a pressure water

If you have access to a power or pressure washer, then use it. Simply spray the wood with the pressure washer and watch all the debris fall off.

Do this until all possible dirt is removed. This is my favorite method of cleaning because it’s fast and reliable.

Although I would suggest using a mild detergent with a pressure washer to soften and brighten the wood faster.

NOTE: The direction of my pressure washer is along the wood’s grain. This is to easily capture and remove dirt that is stuck along the crevices and spaces of the wood.

Method #3: Wire Brush Method

Last, but most definitely not least is to do the wire brush method.

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This method is usually partnered with sanding and is effective in cleaning the surface of the wood, getting rid of all imperfections.

Brush it vigorously (but not to the point that it’ll be damaged) to get rid of all the dirt.

Once done, smoothen it out by sanding it up until the time that you see it’s leveled and balanced.

These are the 3 easiest, best, and fastest methods for how you can clean barn wood at home.

Now, that’s 1 step closer to fully treating them!

Let me now discuss the next step – which is how you can get rid of the insects and bugs that could be thriving inside it.

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How Do You Exterminate Bugs From Your Wood?

exterminating bug

In these 2 methods, I’ll share with you 2 different ways how you can exterminate and get rid of the bugs that could be living and thriving inside your barn wood.

Method #1: Steamer Method

This method works the best for me because it’s almost effortless. You simply need to turn your steamer on and apply it to the wood.

Have it on for at least 3 to 4 hours at 160 degrees Fahrenheit for the maximum effect.

The heat from the steamer will almost instantly exterminate any living thing on it. Then, dry it out under the sun for at least 2 hours.

I usually steam the wood after it is dried out from the cleaning method. It works like magic and each time I do it, I feel like my piece of wood isn’t reclaimed!

Method #2: Water Spray and Borax 

spraying water barn wood

I don’t usually perform this method because of all the activities.

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But, many people say that it’s an effective way of repelling insects and bugs inside the wood in the future, too.

To accomplish this, follow these steps:

  1. Mix 1 part of borax with 2 parts of water.
  2. Pour it into a spray bottle.
  3. Spray the wood with this mixture and successfully terminate bugs and insects.

For the last and concluding part of treating your barn wood, let me dive deeper into how you can seal barn wood.

How to Seal Barn Wood For Indoor Use?

seal barn wood

Sealing is the final part of every wood treatment and the purpose of this is to protect the wood from its natural wear and tear.

It’s not what you might think where you’ll have to use a wide variety of materials – it’s simple, easy to do, and can be done in under 5 minutes!

You just have to apply your wood sealant over your reclaimed wood or barn wood using a clean brush.

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Leave it to air dry for about an hour, then apply another 1 or 2 coatings of sealant again.

This will maximize the strength of your wood and can seal it thoroughly. There have been times when I used wax instead of a sealant, and it worked out pretty well, too.

Besides, experts vouched that wax can also be an effective sealant or enhancer of wood grains.

NOTE: In sealing the wood, make sure that you go along the natural grain of the wood, not against it.

Final Verdict

Learning how to treat barn wood for indoor use is neither an easy nor a hard process.

It’s like riding a bike, once you get used to it, you won’t even consider it work!

Save money and efforts by treating your barn wood in the comfort of your home. Although you’ll need to have more patience, seeing the great condition of your wooden piece is rewarding.