Can I Use Water Instead of Wood Conditioner?

Wood conditioner is an essential part of wood maintenance. Can you use water instead? Can you use water instead of a wood conditioner? The answer to that question is no, not really. Wood needs to be conditioned regularly to keep it strong and healthy. You can’t just put a coat on when you feel like it and expect the same longevity from your furniture or wooden surfaces around the house. But there are some alternatives we’ll discuss below, so stay tuned!

5 Reasons Why Using Water Instead of Wood Conditioner is a Bad Idea

  • Water won’t do anything to protect your deck.

Since water is not a protective coating, it will be useless in protecting the wood from sun and rain damage — two of the biggest enemies of any outdoor material.  You would need some type of barrier between the wood and the elements for this purpose (as well as aesthetic purposes).     

  • Water will leave a film on your deck.

Water doesn’t dry completely, and the result is that it leaves behind a visible watermark or streak.  This isn’t going to look good for anyone who has put in the time and money into creating an outdoor space they want visitors to enjoy.

  • Water will evaporate.

Since water won’t dry completely, it’s going to disappear over time — and not slowly either.  It’ll be gone in a matter of days which means you’re losing out on the opportunity to enjoy your deck for more than just one season (at best).       

  • Water will be ineffective against anything besides UV rays.

Sunlight is the only thing that causes damage to wood, and since water doesn’t have any sun-protective properties, it’s not going to do much if you’re hoping to keep your outdoor space safe from sunlight or other forms of ultraviolet light (like black lights).       

  • Water can damage your deck.

If you love the look of wood, water is not going to do anything to preserve its natural beauty and color.  It will strip away all those gorgeous hues resulting in a dull-looking surface that’s much less aesthetically pleasing than it was before you added water as a conditioner.

When to Use Water Instead of Wood Conditioner?

If your project needs a light or medium finish, you can use water instead of a wood conditioner. Water has no color, so it will not tint the wood at all. It also dries quickly and is easy to clean up with soap and warm water after brushing on the topcoat. If you are working outside in direct sunlight for extended periods of time, using water instead of a wood conditioner might be the best option.

Water, on the other hand, is not a good solution for high-traffic outdoor projects that must last more than one season. If it gets dirty, it will wash away rapidly and may even dry out in the sun, making cleanup difficult. Because water has no protective characteristics, water-treated wood cannot be utilized to replace pressure-treated wood in the prevention of rot and insects.

Water isn’t the best choice for outdoor projects that need a long lifespan or high traffic areas. It can wash away quickly when it gets dirty and even dry out in the sun, making it hard to clean up later. Water has no protective properties, so water-treated wood cannot be used as a substitute for pressure-treated wood, which is used to prevent rot and insects.

Do You Really Need Wood Conditioner When Staining?

Subscribe to TwoFeetFirst on Youtube

Recommended Posts:

woodworking resources

Kevin Nelson

I will always have a special place in my heart for woodworking. I have such fond memories working on projects with my parents on the weekends in the garage growing up. We built tables, shelves, a backyard shed, 10' base for a water slide into the pool, 2 story fort playhouse with a fire pole, and so much more. This woodworking blog allows me to write helpful articles so others can enjoy woodworking as much as we have.

Recent Posts

STOP Making Out-Dated Table Saw Sleds, Do This Instead