When Wood Gets Wet What Happens? (All You Should Know)

Wood is a common house material. There are furniture, beds, and more made of wood. Any accident or incautious moment may lead water into the wood. Do you know when wood gets wet what happens?

Wood starts the wet effect when it gets moisture from the water. This is the reason why wood expands and starts showing effects. Depending on the wood type, the reaction varies. Sometimes, wood gets marks from the wet as well. Also, too much moisture is the reason why wood gets rotted.

Wood is very much sensitive to water. They are not designed to be waterproof. Let’s find out more about the water effect on different types of wood.

4 Common Things Happen When Wood Gets Wet: Know The Effects

There are a couple of changes that happen when the wood gets wet. The changes will eventually damage the wood. If there is no change, it means the wood will stay fine. Check what the aftereffects are when wood gets wet. 

1. Moisture

Moisture is the primary change when wood gets wet. Wood absorbs the moisture of the water and then starts the effects. Most of the time, wood expands if they get moisture.  

2. Swell

If the wood gets enough moisture from the water, it will start getting swell. Depending on the wood quality, there will be more or less swell or rot in the water-damaged portion. 

3. Color Change

Wood changes color and leaves spots on the surface when it gets wet. There can be two types of rings in wood – white and dark. If you can’t dry the wet part properly, the spot will be permanent on the wood.  

4. Rot

If wood gets too much moisture from the water, it will start rotting. Wet rot also occurs if the water is left on wood for a long span of time. This will damage the wood cell and start rotting.

How Different Woods React When Gets Wet: Check Now

Popular wood types are resistant to water, but not completely. Check how different wood types react when they are in touch with water. 


Cedar wood absorbs water and will get moisture. Since cedar wood is designed to absorb less water than usual. The natural waterproofing saves cedar wood from much damage. 


Pine is a soft wood that works great for furniture because of its stiffness and strength. Eastern pine is more water resistant than bare pine wood. Pine wood is rated as moderately waterproof.


Among the wood types, mahogany is more resistant to water than others. This is because, even if mahogany wood gets wet, it can resist welling, swelling, or warping. 


Oakwood is not very durable if they get wet. This wood easily absorbs moisture, and the wood cell gets damaged. Also, the color of the wood will get darker. 


Pressure-treated wood reacts less than normal wood. But it should be ensured that the wood is completely dry during the process. Otherwise, the wood will shrink or warp.


Plywood comes with phenolic resin to make the surface waterproof. So, if plywood gets wet, there will be less damage. In addition, regular contact with water will damage plywood.

4 Easy Steps To Repair Water-Damaged Wood: Read Now

If your wood or wood product gets water, there are some steps to emit the deface. The steps should be taken as early as possible to ensure the wood is not swelled or damaged.

1. Dry Out 

To repair water-damaged wood, the first and most important step will be drying the wood. You should remove the moisture by keeping the furniture under sunlight. 

Another effective solution to dry water-damaged furniture is using an iron. If the water is on a leveled surface, lay a cloth on the surface and hold the iron on the cloth for a few seconds. 

2. Cut The Damaged Part

Here is another alternative to repair water-damaged wood. If the wood is still useful after cutting the wet part, you may cut the damaged part with a scraping tool or chisel to cut the damaged part.

You should scrap or cut the damaged part completely and use sandpaper for finishing. Once the finishing is done, remove the wood dust using a brush.

3. Use Belt Sander

A belt sander is used to shape or finish wood material. This electric tool can be used to bring the furniture back in shape. Most quality wood gets swelled when it gets wet. If you can ensure that the wood is in shape using a belt sander, vanish your wood or apply proper finishing.

4. Wood Finish

Once you repair a water-damaged wood, it’s time to apply finishing to ensure its durability. You may apply coats of varnish or paint the wood. It’s recommended to use latex enamel-based paint for wood. 

You can also apply a waterproof stain that matches the surface of your wood. This will protect the wood from future damage.


Is Wood Furniture Ruined If It Gets Wet?

Getting wood furniture wet is like a nightmare. There can be serious damage to the material of the furniture. The damage to wood furniture depends on the quality and the type of wood. The furniture won’t ruin, but there will be shrinking or swelling.

As there is no waterproof wood furniture, it will be damaged for sure. You may waterproof your furniture by using additives, but they don’t eliminate the risk completely.

Why Does Wood Swell When It Gets Wet?

The thickness of wood increases when it gets wet. This is because they absorb moisture and expand. Different types of wood are available, and they all expand when wet. The amount of expansion depends on how much the wood absorbs moisture from the wood. 

The expansion also depends on the environment and temperature. It is impossible to emit wood’s swelling and shrinkage, so furniture makers have to deal with these issues.

What Happens If Pressure-Treated Wood Gets Wet?

Here comes another common confusion. Pressure-treat is a process that enhances the longevity of wood by using high pressure. The process injects preservatives into the wood by using high pressure. They are designed to last long but are not waterproof.

Pressure-treated wood will get wet and absorb less moisture than normal wood. The swell or shrinkage of pressure-treated wood will be less than that of normal wood. 

How Long Does Water Take To Damage Wood?

This actually depends on the wood types and the environmental circumstances as well. Normal wood will easily damage within 1-2 months of getting wet. On the other hand, pressure-treated wood or sealed wood won’t easily get damaged after water.  It will take time to start the effect.

They are designed to withstand water and absorb less moisture than usual. Once the wood absorbs enough moisture, it will start getting swell and damaged. 

Is Wood Weak When Wet?

Wood absorbs water when wet. As a result, the water expands in the wood’s cell walls. The cellulose content of the wood slice starts to decline per unit area. Hence, wood gets weaker. The process doesn’t establish overnight. It takes time based on the quality of the wood. 

Modern wood is designed to absorb less water than traditional wood. To preserve the superiority of wood, it is recommended to prevent the wood from getting wet in any way.

How To Remove Water Spot From Wood?

To remove water spots from wood, you may use mineral oil or spirit with a soft cloth. Pour some oil on the spot and rub it with a soft cloth. If the spot is too deep, it will be quite tough to remove. 

If the water spot is too dark and deep, you may apply a finishing by using wood varnish. First, sand the spot with sandpaper. Then apply finishing that matches the wood color.

Final Thoughts

To ensure the longevity of wood, keep them safe from water. Wood is not a waterproof material, and it will always react if it gets wet. The moisture gets into the wood and makes it expand. This damages the quality of the wood. 

Though quality wood types show less effect when getting water, there will still be watermarks or slight swell for sure.


A. Eckelman, C. (n.d.). The Shrinking and Swelling of Wood and Its Effect on Furniture. 26. https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/fnr/fnr-163.pdf

Water’s effect on the mechanical behaviour of wood. (n.d.). DoITPoMS. Retrieved February 5, 2023, from https://www.doitpoms.ac.uk/tlplib/wood/water_effect.php#

About Sam Maxi

Hi, this is Sam Maxi. I love talking about woodwork tools and my reviews are mostly based on the experience I have from my work. Apart from reviewing, I am a huge fan of surfing. Also, I love watching horror genre movies.

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