Is Cherry Wood Waterproof?

Is Cherry Wood Waterproof?

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If you are planning on building something for outdoor purposes, then you need a type of wood that is waterproof, or at least as close to waterproof as humanly possible. Of course, if we are talking about outdoor use, moisture and rotting are two things that need to be accounted for.

Therefore, you need wood that is moisture-resistant. You need a material that won’t shrink, expand, warp, rot, or decay. Today, we want to take a closer look at cherry wood. So, is cherry wood waterproof, and is it good for outdoor use?

Is Cherry Naturally Waterproof?

Generally speaking, cherry wood is naturally water-resistant. Now, beware that there is no type of wood that is 100% waterproof. Wood is a naturally occurring substance and is fibrous, so it cannot possibly repel all moisture. With that being said, cherry does contain a good deal of natural resins and oils, which allow for some waterproofing.

Black cherry in particular has a very tight grain that makes it very water-resistant. There is also sugar cherry, which is not nearly as waterproof.

Sugar cherry is only a type of wood that you should use for outdoor purposes if you properly seal and treat it first. Black cherry on its own is naturally water-resistant, whereas sugar cherry is much less so. Sugar cherry is rated as only being moderately durable in terms of outdoor use, whereas black cherry is extremely durable in regard to outdoor use.

Does Cherry Wood Absorb Moisture?

Cherry wood, particularly black cherry wood, should not absorb very much moisture at all. This wood features a fairly tight wood grain, combined with a good deal of natural oils and resins. Black cherry is also fairly hard in terms of its Janka hardness rating.

Moreover, this material is also quite dense. All of these factors come together to allow a good deal of moisture resistance, meaning moisture has a fairly hard time penetrating the outer surface of cherry wood.

Sugar cherry is also quite hard and dense, and it contains some natural oils, so it should absorb only a little moisture. However, when it comes to moisture absorption, black cherry is the clear winner in this category.

Does Cherry Rot When Wet?

Cherry wood is known for being resistant to rotting and decaying even when it gets wet for quite some time. This is especially the case when it comes to black cherry. This wood can get wet for a good amount of time without rotting.

Sugar cherry on the other hand will begin to rot and decay within a relatively short amount of time if it absorbs too much moisture. Both types of cherry wood are fairly resistant to rotting when wet, although black cherry is much more so.

Does Cherry Expand When Wet?

One of the biggest advantages that you get with cherry wood, particularly black cherry, is that it is resistant to expanding and shrinking when it gets wet. Yes, just like all other types of wood out there, both black cherry and sugar cherry may expand just a little bit, but not as much as most other types.

Does Cherry Warp When Wet?

Just as it is not very susceptible to expanding when it gets wet, black cherry is not very susceptible to warping either. Cherry wood in general is very resistant to warping or changing shape due to moisture, which is why it makes for a very popular option when it comes to outdoor use.

How to Waterproof Cherry Wood

Although black cherry is very resistant to the elements, if you want it to last even longer, waterproofing it is a good idea. Let’s go through a quick step-by-step tutorial on how to do this with cherry wood.

Step 1: Choose the Sealant

There are many different types of sealants that you can use to waterproof wood. When it comes to cherry, we recommend going for an oil-based stain. These stains penetrate very deep into the wood, and being oil-based helps to repel moisture.

At the same time, stain can also add a bit of color to the equation. We recommend looking at the pros and cons of the different types of wood sealants and waterproofing agents before moving on.

Step 2: Clean and Sand the Wood

Use a damp cloth to remove any and all debris, dust, and other solid objects from the surface of the wood. You do not want to apply any sealant if there is still debris present. Let the wood dry completely once you have cleaned it. Once it is dry, use fairly fine sandpaper to sand the surface of the wood, which will allow the sealant to adhere properly.

Step 3: Apply the First Coat and Let Dry

Using your sealant of choice and a small paintbrush, apply the first coat of your waterproofing agent to the surface of the wood. You will then need to let it dry for anywhere between 4-10 hours, depending on your specific project and the environment around you.

Step 4: Sand the First Coat

Once the first coat is totally dry to the touch, you then want to use some very fine sandpaper to sand it down. This will allow you to apply a second coat and have it adhere easily.

Step 5: Apply a Second Coat and Let Dry

You can now apply a second coat of your waterproofing agent and then repeat step four.

Step 6: Repeat Again (If Necessary)

If the area you live in has a lot of moisture in the air on a regular basis, you may even want to apply a third layer. Therefore, let the second layer dry, sand it down, and then apply a third layer.

Step 7: Let the Sealed Cherry Wood Cure

You now want to let that oil-based stain cure for up to three days.


Cherry is a perfectly fine type of wood to use for outdoor purposes. If you want to make it last even longer, sealing it using an oil-based sealant is recommended.