How Long Can Wood Framing Be Exposed To Weather?

Are you planning on building a new home? Or maybe you're just trying to do some research before deciding anything. Speaking to a contractor might get you additional information, but that requires time and business hours. Building a home or business from the ground up can be daunting and exhausting. You might be wondering how long you can keep your wood out in the elements while building. So whether you're looking into potentially building your dream home or just browsing, we've got all the answers! 

How long can wood framing be exposed to weather? Try not to let your wood framing be exposed to the elements for more than a year or two. Most wood used to build houses and other structures is specially treated to be out in the elements. 

Wood framing should not be overexposed to the elements like weather, sun, wind, or rain for more than a few years. After that time the wood should not be used for construction. Also, even if the wood has only been exposed for a short time like a few days or weeks, if the wood isn't able to dry out completely in between rain or snow storms then wood rot will set in much sooner. Keep reading below for more tips on working with wet and damp wood!

Exposed wooden framing of a house under construction, How Long Can Wood Framing Be Exposed To Weather?

Exposing Wood Framing to the Elements

Most home building projects take a couple of weeks to months at the least to complete. In that time, the wood is bound to get rained or snowed on a few times. Problems can arise when the water has nowhere to drain, and the wood can start to swell or rot.

Wood rot can and will happen when the moisture content of the wood reaches 20 percent. However, wood rot is a slow process where the fungi start to grow and feed on the cellulose of the wood. The wood needs to be damp or wet all the time for wood rot to set in.

Can you use wet wood to build?

Sometimes working with damp wood is unavoidable. Working with wet wood is not ideal and if you can, let your wood dry completely before working with it. However, generally working with wet or damp wood should not cause any huge problems with your projects. One rule you should follow if you do need to work in the rain or with wet wood is, please do not use power tools. Power tools in the rain are not a good mix! 

Should I use treated or untreated wood?

Regardless of the size of your outdoor project, deciding whether to use treated or untreated wood is a big choice. Your choice ultimately comes down to how you'll be using the project after completion, the environment the project will be used in, and how the local area will be used. It all depends on what you are doing with your project!


Most pressure-treated lumber will be more expensive than natural wood due to the cost of the additional processing. However, when you factor in the comparable durability of the product, the marginal cost difference of treated lumber versus untreated lumber becomes much more reasonable, particularly if the project is better suited to treated lumber as the building material. 


Today there are only four different levels of pressure treatment, differentiated by the intended use of the lumber and the pounds of preservative per cubic foot of wood. The groups will be labeled for above ground (0.25), ground contact (0.40), permanent wood foundation (0.60), and saltwater usage (2.05). All treated lumber will be grouped and marked on this basis regardless of the type of chemical mixture used to treat the wood. 

Can OSB framing get wet?

You'll be happy to know that OSB framing is actually water-resistant. The manufacturers do this because they know it is virtually impossible to complete a house without water or snow getting inside at least a couple of times. Wood can comfortably be submerged in freshwater for hundreds of years without suffering any damage. However, to ensure your OSB boards don't suffer any damage, ensure the surface is clean of debris. Debris on the boards can hold water against them. You want all standing water to be swept away as fast as possible after each rain. 

What is the effect of humidity on wood framing?

Wooden construction of a house under construction with unsealed walls and ceiling

Too much moisture (as stated above) will result in the swelling of wood boards and planks. If the moisture content of wood reaches over 20 percent, then wood rot can and will present itself. Humidity can also cause warping and swelling, affecting how even or level your home's framing is. 

When is the best time to build a house? 

Spring and summer are generally the best times to start breaking ground on building your new home. The weather is mild, and the days grow longer until mid-June which is a huge plus when building outdoors.

However, fall is considered the off-season for construction. You might be able to score better deals on supplies and labor. The downside? Winter is the next season in line. You might run into longer construction times since winter brings cold air, wind chills, and snow which will force your crew indoors. On the other hand, winter may work in your favor if you live in a region where there are very mild winters. Cooler temperatures and overcast skies are not as physically draining as the hot summer days. 

All in all, you can choose to build a house in whatever season you choose if you do enough research! 

In Closing

Wood is used in a lot of outdoor projects. We hope this article has answered all your questions on types of wood, house building timeframes, and wet or soggy wood. Check out some more of our articles on wood below!

What's The Best Wood For A Porch Ceiling?

How To Restore Outdoor Wood Furniture In 4 Easy Steps!

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