Whether removed by storm or professional arborist, a felled tree usually leaves behind a short base extending a few feet above the ground from its roots, otherwise called a stump. This portion of the tree is still alive and continues absorbing moisture and using oxygen. That kind of damp environment encourages mold, rot and insects like termites that can easily move from your yard to your house.
The best option for dealing with a tree stump is to remove it from the earth entirely. After that, you can preserve it with a lot of patience and a little polyurethane if you'd like. Tree stumps can make beautiful, one-of-a-kind furniture.
How to Preserve a Tree Stump
Tree stumps need to dry out completely before you treat them with any sort of preserving agent. Place the stump in a covered area or garage where it won't encounter rain or other moisture for at least three to six months.
Remove Bark and Sand Until Smooth
Once all the water has drained from the stump, it should feel much lighter, so you can use a chisel or pry bar to chip off all of its bark. Then, sand the stump to create a smooth surface and prevent future splintering, especially if it's going to sit indoors. You may want to work in rounds, sanding it all over with 60-grit sandpaper once, then repeating the process with 150-grit and 220-grit sandpaper.
Bring It Inside
Allow the stump to come to room temperature before treating it with stain or preserver. This may take several days. As an optional step, you can coat the tree stump with a wood preserver or stabilizer, available at home improvement stores, to prevent cracks occurring over time.
Stain and Seal It
Next, working with a completely dry stump, you could stain the wood to achieve a certain color if that's the look you want. Let it dry before applying polyurethane. If a natural aesthetic is more your style, skip the stain and go straight to the poly sealant. Use a foam brush and apply at least two coats to ensure the wood is fully sealed. Afterward, give it another once-over with sandpaper for a smooth finish.
The Final Product
Some of the most popular uses for treated tree stumps include stools, side tables and planter pedestals. If using indoors, be sure to add felt pads or other protectors to the underside of your new furniture to protect floors.
Maria is a seasoned writer with 10+ years in magazine publishing. She has written for House Beautiful, HGTV Gardens, Interior Design, R Home and Country Living, among other publications.