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Can Drylok Be Used on Wood? (Tips to make it work)

Drylok is synonymous with waterproofing. Even though it is a brand, people often use it as a verb, i.e., “can I Drylok X?” So, when it comes to waterproofing wooden surfaces, the mind definitely heads in that direction first before coming up against the fine print of “masonry protection.”

While Drylok is nearly exclusively a masonry and concrete brand, I have come across reports of it being used on wood. The main concern is that it will not adhere to the wooden surface correctly, which is essential for proper functioning. Happily, there are some tips to increase the chances of success.

Anecdotally, Drylok has been used successfully on wooden pet enclosures. However, Drylok manufacturers do not recommend its use on wood (except the concrete floor paint) and will not provide guaranteed success. There are some tips to increase the success of adhesion to wood as this is the main concern.

Not Recommend for Wood, but Successfully Used

Drylok is formulated for waterproofing concrete and masonry. Mostly it is used to treat basements walls and floors, concrete or gunite swimming pools, and stone retaining walls. The brand boasts a transferable warranty when used according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

With one exception, which I will discuss shortly, the manufacturer does not recommend applying Drylok products directly to wood and will not offer a warranty when used as such. However, this does not mean that you can’t use Drylok on your wood project. 

Many people have used Drylok for waterproofing wood with great success. In particular, it has been used for waterproofing pet terrariums and even the odd aquarium.

You are unlikely to get 10-20 years of successful waterproofing when you apply Drylok to wood, but you may get up to 5 years out of it.

The Exception

Drylok Latex Concrete Floor Paint has been designed for use on the following surfaces: garage floors, basement floors, brick patios, poured concrete and block patios, and wood steps.

Which Drylok Product Is Best for Use on Wood?

Drylok makes latex-based as well as oil-based products. The Drylok that will work best for you depends on your particular project and your own preferences.

Drylok Latex Concrete Floor Paint

Drylok Concrete Floor Paint, 1 Gallon, Gull
  • Drylok Concrete Floor Paint Is A Scientifically Formulated "Treatment" For Masonry Floors
  • It outperforms ordinary floor paint under traffic, washings, weather, acids and alkalis
  • It endures scuffing, moisture and washings
  • It cleans up with soap and water and is non-flammable

Last update on 2023-12-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

An obvious product to look at first is the one actually specified for use on wood. However, and this is a significant “however”, if you are after a waterproofing agent, then this is not going to fulfill your purpose.

Drylok Latex Concrete Floor Paint is exactly that, a paint. While latex paints are considered to be water-resistant once dry, they are not waterproof.

If your goal is to provide some water protection to your home’s wooden staircase, then this may be just the product for you. If your goal is to seal your fish tank, you will definitely need to try a different Drylok.  

Drylok Original

The original latex-based product (Drylok Original) is a good option. When used on masonry or concrete, it is guaranteed to withstand water pressure up to 10 psi (a 22-ft high wall of water).

Last update on 2023-12-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Provided the Drylok adheres properly to the wood (as mentioned, I provide some tips for this), then Original is a viable option for some pretty hard-core waterproofing.

One thing I want to mention is that it does not have a smooth finish, it has a textured finish, so depending on your project, you may rather want to consider the next product.

Drylok Extreme

Drylok Drylok-28613 28613 Extreme Latex Masonry Waterproofer Interior/Exterior Smooth Finish, White, 1 Gallon (Pack of 1)
  • GUARANTEED to stop water – withstands 15 pounds of hydrostatic pressure (PSI), equivalent to a wall of water 33 feet high
  • Fully transferable 15 Year Warranty
  • Helps protect against radon gas penetration by reducing vapor transfer
  • Green Wise Certified

Last update on 2023-12-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

With the word “extreme” in its name, Drylok Extreme is the one you reach for if you are handling a project that requires heavy-duty waterproofing.

It is more expensive than the Original waterproofer, so just bear that in mind, especially as Drylok-ing wood is more of an experimental endeavor.

For an in-depth comparison, check out the Differences Between Drylok and Drylok Extreme.

Drylok E1 1-Part Epoxy Floor Paint

United Gilsonite Lab 28413 Drylok E-1 Gallon 1 Part Epoxy Semi-Gloss Floor Paint
  • New low VOC50 g/L formula utilizes advanced epoxy technology for greater protection & excellent durability
  • Independently tested & extreme water resistance, Color retention, durability & chemical resistance Cleans up with water & is storable
  • This single component, water-based floor paint is formulated to last in hard to clean areas like basements and garages. It's resistant to staining and damage from chemicals, Oil and gasoline.
  • Use on interior and exterior surfaces such as porous concrete, masonry, stone and brick. For use on horizontal surfaces such as garage floors, driveways, basements, porches and pool decks.

Last update on 2023-12-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The oil-based E1 is a 1-part epoxy, 1-part paint blend with a semi-gloss finish, and it may be a good option for you to try.  

While I have not tested it out myself, I know that bathtubs are often refinished with epoxy paint. This means that, while it is not sold as a waterproofing agent, like Drylok Original or Drylok Extreme, the E1 should provide a decent level of water resistance or waterproofing.

Of course, it all depends on how successfully it binds to wood, but I provide a few tips and tricks below to try and improve the adhesion of Drylok products to wood.

Tips for Successful Use of Drylok on Wood

As with any painting project, the amount of time and attention spent in the preparation phase will determine how good or bad the final results will be. Here are a few points to consider before you start.

Eight (8) tips for Successful Use and application of Drylok on Wood

Use the Right Product

As I mentioned, the nature of your project will determine which Drylok product you use on your wooden surface. If you are unsure, I would recommend doing a sample test to see which product responds best.

Make Sure the Wood Is Completely Dry

It doesn’t matter if you’re using scrap wood from a job site or freshly milled lumber to build from scratch, or maybe you’re just getting around to coating that doghouse you built last summer. Whatever your situation, the wood should be completely dry before you apply your first coat.

The reason being that you want the paint to be able to soak into the wood fibers. That is where the real benefit of waterproofing comes into play. You see, wood is porous like a sponge. A wet sponge can’t soak up water as readily as a dry one, and wood is no different.

So, if the wood you’re using is wet or even a little damp, that first coat isn’t going to penetrate the wood fibers very deeply, and you just won’t get a good lasting result.

Sand the Wood Before Application

You will need to sand down the surface of the wood before applying your Drylok product.

But hang on now. It’s just an old doghouse you’re trying to spruce up. Or maybe it’s something that no one will ever see. So, we can just skip the hard part, right? Wrong.

Sanding the wood first creates abrasions on the surface that give the paint something to hold on to, increasing your chances of success.

If you were to simply slap a layer of paint or waterproofing onto the wood without sanding, it would still stick—just not as long. If you want to tick the job off of your list or ensure you are getting value for money, sand, sand, sand!

Sanding first will also remove any dirt, grime, and minor imperfections that might be on the surface.

When you are finished with the sanding job, be sure to remove any dust from the wood with a brush or blow it down really well with compressed air. You want a nice clean surface to apply that first coat. Don’t wipe it off with a damp cloth, though!

Do Not Use Primer

Almost every DIY guru will tell you that using a primer before painting is a critical step. And in almost every case, that would be true. But there are exceptions, and this is one of them.

Latex primer is not waterproof. The first coat is the most important when waterproofing is the goal. You want to really impregnate the wood as much as possible. 

A primer will inhibit the Drylok from penetrating into the wood fibers. This will also contribute to cracking and peeling sooner rather than later. You’ll find yourself having to reapply Drylok more often than if you had omitted the primer altogether.

With regards to the Concrete Floor Paint, it is an all-in-one paint/primer.

Drylok Unvarnished Wood Only

Those old cherry- and walnut-finished entertainment centers can be repurposed into pretty awesome aquariums and terrariums. You can often find them for next to nothing or actually nothing (who doesn’t appreciate free stuff!). 

Thompsons TH.010100-18 Clear Multi-Surface Aerosol Waterproofer, 12 Ounce (Pack of 1)

However, before you get your build on, you’ll need to get that shiny finish off. It may be several coats of stain and varnish, or it may be laminated. If you find its stain or varnish, remove it down to bare wood.

As we mentioned earlier, it is very important that your waterproofing agent be applied to clean dry wood. You don’t want any barrier between the Drylok and the wood as this will inhibit adhesion.

Apply Increasingly Thick Coats

When the wood is clean, dry, and all prepped, it’s time to start painting. Drylok can be applied with a brush, a roller, or, in some cases, with a sprayer. Using a sprayer is more difficult and requires some special techniques and equipment, so we’ll stick with either brushing or rolling.

You can read all about which Drylok products can and cannot be sprayed, as well as some safety tips in my article: Can Drylok Be Sprayed.

Whichever method you decide to use, the most important thing to keep in mind is you want several layers of increasing thickness. The first layer should be thin and even. Take care to get the Drylok into all the corners, nooks, and crannies. 

Give each coat the required drying time before you begin the next coat.

The next coat should be slightly thicker than the first. It is a good idea to alternate the direction of your brush strokes to be perpendicular to the first coat. This will ensure even coverage. 

Continue applying the paint in this manner, being careful to allow ample drying time between each coat. As each layer will be slightly thicker than the previous one, it may take a little longer to dry

The idea is to create a thick waterproof layer over the wood. Plan to apply at least three coats.

Use Caulk for Added Protection at Joints

The places where the wood comes together need special attention. You’ll want to apply a layer of silicone caulk. Use a generous amount in each joint, taking care to push the sealant into the cracks. 

GE Sealants & Adhesives GE5000 Advanced Silicone 2 Window & Door Sealant Clear, 10.1oz, 10 Fl Oz
  • 100% Waterproof and Weatherproof: 100% silicone formula offers protection against water damage, providing a reliable seal in areas prone to harsh weather
  • 10-Year Mold-Free Product Protection: Cured sealant is resistant to stain-causing mold and mildew growth
  • Permanently Flexible with Strong Adhesion: Sealant offers 40% more flexibility than Class 25 sealants and 7X stronger adhesion than our Silicone 1* sealant
  • Durable: Rain-ready in as little as 30 minutes, and resistant to shrinking and cracking due to temperature fluctuations

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Do this between layers as opposed to at the end.For example, after the first coat is completely dry, seal the joints with silicone, let it dry according to the manufacturer’s directions, then apply your next coat.Generally, one layer of sealant applied correctly to all the joints is all that is needed.

The important thing is to allow the sealant to dry completely before painting over it. It will cure into a semi-solid state and bond with the wood, thereby ensuring a watertight seal. 

Put It to the Test

Drylok was developed to be used as waterproofing for masonry. With that being said, consider testing it before you go all-in on a major project

For example, let us say you were thinking of making a large holding tank for baitfish. It would be a good idea to first make a scaled-down version using the exact same materials and techniques. Then fill it with water and make sure it is going to be watertight. 

It may seem like extra work and a waste of materials; however, it could potentially save you a lot of time and money in the event it doesn’t work.

Is Drylok Dangerous for Animals?

Browse through any reptile or fish owner forum, and you’ll find pet owners building all sorts of aquariums, terrariums, and other habitats for their animal friends. Many of them are using Drylok as their waterproof coating, and their pets are happy and healthy.

Aquadock 35.4x17.7x17.7 inch Rimless Low Iron Aquarium Tank, Glass Fish Tank with Tool Kit, Fish Tank for Home&Office, Betta Fish Tank Aquatic Plants Tank with Fish Net, Scissors, Tweezers and Shovel

One of the intended uses for Drylok is a fishpond sealant. After appropriate curing time, Drylok is safe and non-toxic.

It must be mentioned that Drylok does contain harmful chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer in laboratory animals. Pets should not be allowed to ingest Drylok. 

Owners of reptiles such as lizards and turtles should make sure that their animals are not scratching the coating off the floor of their enclosure as this could allow small particles to contaminate their food or water supply.

How Often Should Drylok Be Reapplied to Wood?

According to the manufacturer, “when properly applied Drylok will last for 10 years before the need to reapply”. Of course, this is assuming you are waterproofing your interior basement walls. 

Many variables must be taken into consideration when discussing how long Drylok will maintain its integrity. 

When applied to wood and potentially exposed to the elements, however, you may find the need to reapply sooner. For instance, an outdoor tortoise habitat in the desert will be exposed to extreme heat. This would cause the Drylok to deteriorate considerably faster than an aquarium kept indoors in a climate-controlled environment.

The only way to know for certain if you need to reapply Drylok is to do periodic visual inspections. Look for signs of cracking or peeling. Check for obvious leaks and keep an eye out for soft spots in the wood. If any of these signs are present, it’s time to reapply.

What Can I Use Instead of Drylok?

If you’re not 100% sure Drylok is what you want to use. There are other options available. 

Blue Max by Ames is an elastomeric waterproof coating designed to move with the surface to prevent cracking and peeling. They offer five different products, all of which are mold- and mildew-resistant. 

Liquid rubber is environmentally friendly, pet safe, and boasts a 5-year service life. It comes in nine different colors and can be applied easily with a brush or roller.

Epoxy resin, once fully cured, is inert and therefore safe for animals. These products harden into a glass-like coating that blocks out moisture. They are also UV-resistant and less susceptible to cracking and peeling under direct sunlight.

No matter which product you use for waterproofing your woodcraft, always follow these basic safety guidelines:

  • When using power tools, wear appropriate ear and eye protection. 
  • Work in a well-ventilated area and wear a respirator if needed.
  • Avoid prolonged exposure to the skin and other sensitive areas. 

There is also the possibility of using Granite Grip, but the results are less predictable and it cannot withstand hydrostatic pressure.


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