How To Seal Creosote Lumber? 3 Easy Steps

You might be thinking of using pieces of lumbers that were once treated with creosote. But you’re worried about the harmful toxins. Creosote contains harmful chemicals that may harm animals and plants.

So, you want to know how to seal creosote lumber?

Sealing creosote-treated lumber can definitely allow you to reuse old lumbers. First of all, through the CPES process, you can seal creosote lumber. This method can seal over creosote and protect the environment as well. To seal your lumber you need to clean the wooden surface first. Only then you’ll be able to coat with CPES.

However, it’s quite impossible to learn the sealing process. So, we have prepared a step-by-step direction for you.  

If you got some time, let’s have a look into the process-

Table of Contents

Why Seal Creosote Treated Lumber?

Creosote is a tar-like preservative yet a little nasty. Creosote usually protects railroad ties against the components. Railroad ties stay protected from the toxins that are absorbed into soil or water.

But, EPA has not given permission to use creosote for residential purposes. Because creosote contains a strong odor, harmful phenols, and toxic chemicals. Different types of molecules compromise the natural fragrances in the creosote. 

Some of these tiny molecules permeate to a certain degree through the sealed surface. These are really harmful to human health and the environment. So, creosote lumber must be sealed for our own protection.

How to Seal Creosote Wood?

Oil-basedApply oil-based sealant or stain specifically designed for creosote lumber.Enhances natural wood appearanceRequires regular reapplication
Water-basedUse a water-based sealant or stain suitable for creosote lumber.Easy cleanup and applicationMay not provide as much protection
EpoxyApply epoxy coating to the creosote lumber surface.Provides a durable, protective layerRequires careful application
VarnishUse a varnish specifically formulated for outdoor use on creosote lumber.Offers long-lasting protectionRequires multiple coats and upkeep
PolyurethaneApply a polyurethane coating to the creosote lumber.Provides a clear, protective finishMay require sanding between coats
WaxApply a layer of wax to the creosote lumber surface.Provides water resistanceRequires frequent reapplication
AcrylicUse an acrylic sealant or paint suitable for creosote lumber.Easy to apply and maintainMay not provide as much protection
SiliconeApply a silicone-based sealant to the creosote lumber.Offers excellent water resistanceMay not adhere well to creosote lumber
CombinationCombine multiple sealing methods, such as applying oil-based sealant followed by varnish or wax.Provides enhanced protectionRequires more time and effort

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How To Seal Creosote Lumber

Sealing creosote-coated lumber is a must as it contains toxic chemicals. We have shown the sealing process down below.

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Before starting the process, we will need some equipment. These items will make the process a lot easier-

  • Methyl Ethyl Ketone
  • Odorless White Spirits Or Turpentine
  • CPES
  • Mask
  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • Apron

Have you gathered all the necessary items? If yes then without any further due, let’s jump into the work session-

Step 1 of 3: Clean Extra Paint

We have to clean the surface before sealing the timber. So, you have to remove paint from the lumber surface if there’s any.

Use Methyl Ethyl Ketone for the task as it’s an excellent paint stripper. It works like magic and leaves no deposits on the wooden surface.

You can also use sand as a cleaning substance. But you have to be fully protected. Or else nasty contaminated paint and dust are going to harm your health. Thus, wear a mask, gloves, and goggles.

Step 2 of 3: Clean Extra Creosote

Now, cleaning the extra creosote is the second cleaning step. You can clean the excess creosote from the lumber surface through a volatile substance. 

Odorless white spirits or turpentine are good options for this job. So, to use them, take a rag and pour any of these liquids on it. Then start scrubbing the exterior part.

Don’t get tired already! This step will require a bit more hard work. You’ll have to spend a long period of time clearing the creosote. If the lumber is not placed in a household area, we highly recommend immersion. You might need a couple of rags to wipe it for multiple rounds. Keep wiping until there is no extra creosote left on the exterior. 

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The only secret is to have lots of solvent and patience in this cleaning process. 

People also frequently ask, how do you get rid of creosote build-up?

To get rid of creosote build-up, you have to brush it or use a cleaning log once a week. Regular cleaning helps lumber from the extra creosote layer. This technique will save your stage 1 creosote lumber before it progresses.

Step 3 of 3: CPES Coating

When you’re done with the cleaning process, it’s time for the coating session. So, you need to seal creosote with CPES (Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer). 

CPES contains epoxy resin that reacts with the toxic phenols from creosote. It holds up and renders harmless toxic phenols from creosote and locks them forever. 

In this process, firstly apply the first saturating coat of CPES on the lumber. Then wait for a while and apply the second coat. This time leave the newly coated lumber for a few days. This way CPES can do its work and diminish the harsh smell of creosote.

On a 3-4 days gap coat CPES for a few more days until creosote is accurately sealed. Finally, you’ll have your sealed creosote lumber with no stink or toxic chemicals outside. 


Question: What can neutralize creosote?

Answer: Well, you can neutralize creosote through chemical treatment. There is one best substance out there. That is ACS ( Anti-Creo-Soot) liquid spray. If you use ACS liquid spray, you can directly apply it to the wood. It’ll chemically modify the wood and will neutralize creosote.

Question: Can creosote be encapsulated?

Answer: Yes, creosote can be encapsulated. There are some products that offer a long-lasting solution. You can apply these coatings even when creosote has already been used. These help to prevent creosote’s unpleasant odor and reduce toxic fumes to a safer level.

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Question: What paint can cover creosote?

Answer: Lacquer-based paint can cover creosote and this one is best of all. But it requires multiple layers of coating. First, you have to apply the sealer primer layer for about a couple of coats. Then paint the lacquer-based paint over the primer.

Question: Will cuprinol can cover creosote?

Answer: Yes, you can apply Cuprinol wood preserver over well-weathered creosote. It’ll deliver a superb long-lasting finishing. Before that, clean your wooden surface with a mild detergent solution. Then rinse it through clean fresh water. Finally, apply a minimum of 2 coatings of Cuprinol preserver through a synthetic bristle brush.

Question: What is creosote lumber and why does it need to be sealed?

Answer: Creosote lumber is wood that has been treated with creosote to increase its durability and resistance to rot and insects.

Question: How do I prepare creosote lumber for sealing?

Answer: Clean the surface of the wood thoroughly before applying the sealant.

Question: What type of sealant should I use on creosote lumber?

Answer: Use an oil-based sealant or one specifically designed for use on creosote lumber.

Question: Can I paint over creosote lumber after sealing it?

Answer: Yes, you can paint over creosote lumber after sealing it.

Question: How often do I need to seal creosote lumber?

Answer: It is recommended to seal creosote lumber every 1-2 years.

Question: Can I seal creosote lumber myself or should I hire a professional?

Answer: Sealing creosote lumber can be done as a DIY project, but hiring a professional may be advisable for larger projects.

Question: Are there any health risks associated with handling or sealing creosote lumber?

Answer: Handling creosote lumber can be hazardous, so it is important to take appropriate safety precautions.

Question: How long does it take for creosote lumber to dry after being sealed?

Answer: The drying time for creosote lumber after sealing depends on the type of sealant used and the weather conditions.

Question: What are some tips for ensuring a successful seal on creosote lumber?

Answer: Make sure the wood is completely dry before applying the sealant and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Question: Can I apply a sealant to creosote lumber that has already been painted or stained?

Answer: It is not recommended to apply a sealant to wood that has already been painted or stained.

Question: Can you seal creosote wood?

Answer: Yes, creosote wood can be sealed to improve its durability and resistance to rot and insects.

Question: How long does creosote last in wood?

Answer: The longevity of creosote in wood depends on the amount and method of application, as well as exposure to sunlight and moisture.

Final Words

So, are you stress-free now that you know how to seal creosote lumber?

We hope you can seal creosote lumber on your own now. Let us know how your overall experience was by leaving a comment down below.

We wish you all the luck!

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