How to Stack Firewood: Tips from Wood Stove Professionals

Stacking wood may seem like an easy task but knowing how to stack firewood properly ensures you have well seasoned wood for whenever you need it..

Simply leaving wood piled in a heap often results in inefficient warmth and light because it doesn't burn the way it should. Learn the best way to stack wood and have it ready for burn season with our guide, along with everything you need to know about how to keep firewood dry.

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Choosing Where to Store Your Wood Stack

Before you can stack or safely burn your wood, you’ll first need to figure out where to store your supply. The location itself can make all the difference when you’re learning how to stack wood for a fireplace. 

It’s important to balance safety with how accessible and dry the location is. Here are some tips for where to place your firewood stack

  • If you decide to stack wood indoors, it should be in an area that doesn’t have much humidity. Since you won’t get sunlight inside to dry the wood from moisture, keeping it dry from the start is important.
  • For your stack of firewood outside, make sure it’s at least 20-30 feet away from your house or any other structure. This keeps pests away from your home and ensures that you stay safe if your stack ever catches on fire.
  • A stack of wood needs to be dry to burn properly. If you’re planning to store firewood outside, make sure it’s in a spot with good airflow and sunlight.

Step-by-Step Guide to Stacking Firewood

Once you’ve chosen a location for where to stack firewood, now it’s time to start the process. There are multiple steps you should take to ensure your wood stays dry, clean and ready to use.

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Prepare the Base

Before you start wood stacking, you need to create a strong base stack. It’s important to elevate your base to prevent moisture from seeping in from the ground. This also helps create a good base to support the weight of any stacked wood. 

One common method is stacking firewood on pallets, but you can also lay down your wood on cinder blocks. This way, you can keep your wood dry and learn how to stack firewood without a rack. 

Choose Your Technique

There are many creative firewood stacking techniques you can use to maximize durability and airflow. Depending on where you placed your wood stack and the climate you live in, certain stacking methods will be more beneficial than others. 

Some wood stacking techniques (that we explain below) include: 

  • Row stacking
  • Cross-stacking
  • The Holz Hausen method
  • Norwegian method
  • Vertical pillar stacking
  • Shaker stacks 

Protect Your Stack

After utilizing your preferred stacking method, it’s important to keep your wood protected from the elements or moisture. For example, you can:

  • Use a tarp or metal roofing to cover the top of the wood, while keeping the sides open to allow for airflow. 
  • Store your firewood for a wood burning stove or fireplace insert under a specially-designed shelter or in a firewood shed.
  • Keep it inside near the fireplace (while still being far enough away that it won’t potentially ignite). This usually means storing it in a well-ventilated basement or living room.

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Wood Stacking Techniques

There are several ways to learn how to stack firewood efficiently to save space, speed up drying and prevent decay. Depending on your needs and preferences, some firewood stacking ideas include:

Traditional Row Stacking

Traditional row stack of wood against a wall

This method is easy to use and helps airflow while still being easily accessible. For traditional row stacking, stack the pieces on top of each other across the row, to ensure it stays stable. Another great way to ensure that the rows stay stable is to place anchor pieces vertically on either side of the stack.

Cross-Stacking

Cross stacked wood on green grass

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This is one of the best wood stacking ideas to ensure optimal airflow. You can also add this to regular row stacking by putting the cross-stacked sections at the end for more stability. 

To utilize this method, you will stack each row in opposite directions. Take 3-4 pieces of wood and place them in a row from left to right then layer more wood on top in the opposite direction. These perpendicular rows create dry stacks of wood that are easily accessed whenever you need.

The Holz Hausen Method

A Holz Hausen stack of wood that resembles a small house

The Holz Hausen, German for "wood house," is one of the most effective methods for keeping the wood dry and prepared for burning. It allows the wood to breathe and dry evenly as the drying process starts from the outside and moves towards the center.

This effort does take some initial work and creating a guide for stacking wood in a circle can be helpful. To make a circle, use a pole with a rope or string attached. We recommend starting with at least a six foot diameter because the smaller your base, the more challenging it is to build a Holz Hausen wood stack.

To make the base, you can either stack logs along the diameter or lay one row of logs lengthwise with the bark facing out. Place the next layer of wood on top of the outward-facing logs, sloping downward towards the center of the circle. If you face logs lengthwise to maintain the shape, every six or so rows place wood lengthwise again. As you build the Holz Hausen, place wood vertically in the center to fill the space and add support.

The Norwegian Method

This stacking method involves placing large rounds of wood with barked firewood on top to protect it from the elements. This method starts like the Holz Hausen, using a circular stack with smaller, uneven wood in the center for added support. Once the stack is approximately four feet high, layer the barked firewood across the top.

This is another method that helps enhance airflow, allowing for dry firewood, even in snowy areas (such as Norway, hence its name). 

Vertical Pillar Stack

A covered vertical pillar stack with cross stacks at the end of and traditional stacked wood in the ceneter

Creating a vertical pillar stack is a great space-saving method that allows for quicker access and protection from the elements.This can be particularly useful in situations where you have completely dry areas to store your wood.

Create a traditional wood stack and on each end, add support with cross stacked wood. The cross stack will create pillars against the traditional stack and keep the wood secure and accessible.

Shaker Stacking Method

A farmer chopping wood next to a large shaker stack of firewood.

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The Shaker method, also known as the Amish stacking method is one of the best ways to stack firewood. This round stack of firewood holds the most amount of wood compared to other techniques. Similar to the German stacking method, you will create a circular shape but the result is more rounded.

Place a log or branch approximately eight inches wide by sixteen inches long at the center of your circle. Then build a circle around that log to resemble the spokes of a wheel at least two rows deep.

Next add two split logs to the center and lean additional wood against them. Continue adding layers until the stack is about shoulder height and creates a disc shape. Add your final layers of wood until your space is full and the top is round.

Common Wood Burning Misconceptions

There are several misconceptions that people often have about burning wood. Some people believe it harms the environment, but if done safely, it can also be energy-efficient. Some additional misconceptions we can help clear up include:

  • Pest Prevention: Plan ahead when setting up your woodpile to avoid creating a habitat that attracts pests. Stack your wood off the ground in a free-standing shed or in an outdoor location with good airflow and circulation. Only bring in enough firewood for one or two fires to prevent pests from getting comfortable.
  • Wood Varieties and Burn Quality: The type of wood you burn actually does make a difference. If wood isn’t properly seasoned, you could end up with a smoke-filled room and very little heat. For a short evening’s worth of burn, softer hardwoods like birch, poplar, cottonwood or red maple are best. For a robust, long-lasting fire, try black maple, oak, locust, hickory and other hardwoods.
  • Log Size and Burning Efficiency: Round logs may have a certain rustic charm, but split wood will burn better. Aim for pieces you can hold with one hand, about 16 inches long and three to six inches across. If you're splitting your own firewood, use smaller pieces for kindling and larger chunks for your fire pit.
  • Bark Orientation: According to the USDA Forest Products Laboratory blog, bark orientation can make a difference. Mark Knaebe, a natural resources specialist, recommends stacking your wood with the bark facing up when storing it outside. This helps the wood dry faster, prevents decay and protects it from bad weather.

Tips to Maintain Your Wood Stack

After you’ve properly created and stacked your woodpile, it’s important to maintain your stack. Some ways to do this include:

  • Regularly check your stack to ensure it stays dry and upright
  • Checking your base and fixing it in case it droops under the wood’s weight
  • Spraying for bugs in case moisture gets into the wood

From Wood Stack to Warmth: Trust Forge & Flame

Now you’ve learned more about how to stack firewood, it’s time to invest in a great wood-burning stove or fireplace. Our Forge & Flame fireplace inserts and wood-burning stoves are excellent additions to homes, providing beauty, heat and efficiency.

Check out our selection of trusted brands like Quadra-Fire and Vermont Castings. Our team is ready to help you find the right wood-burning option to create the home of your dreams. We’re here to make your home cozy, warm and beautiful for any season.

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