How to Seal Old Barn Boards With Bugs in the Wood

Jennifer Mackinday

Salvaged lumber from old wood structures such as barns and outbuildings has a beautiful patina only created in nature. This type of wood requires special preparation to ensure it will be durable and insect free.

An old barn can find new life with proper preparation.


Allow wood to acclimate to indoor conditions for a minimum of 48 hours prior to installation.


Old barn wood can retain the smell of a farm for decades. Place a few pieces of the salvaged wood in a plastic bag for 48 hours. Open the bag and smell the wood. If you smell the odor of animals or other offensive scents, use the wood for outside projects only.

  1. Heat salvaged wood to 140 degrees Fahrenheit to kill insects and their larvae. Custom lumber yards offer kiln services for all sizes and types of wood.

  2. Remove remnants of insects and their nests by scrubbing the wood with a wire brush.

  3. Sand the wood thoroughly and vacuum to remove dust and debris.

  4. Spray the wood with a residual borate-based insecticide. This type of insecticide is available in a liquid or powder and may be purchased at a home improvement store. Follow the manufacturer's directions carefully.

  5. Apply a waterproof sealer and allow the wood to dry completely before use.