Can You Use Pressure Treated Lumber for Horse Stalls?

Welcome to our article discussing the use of pressure treated lumber for horse stalls. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the various opinions and considerations surrounding this topic. While some horse owners have utilized pressure treated timber for their stalls, it is essential to understand the potential risks and explore alternative wood options and materials available. Let’s delve into the details and explore the best choices for creating safe, durable, and horse-friendly stalls.

Key Takeaways:

  • Pressure treated lumber is a controversial choice for horse stalls due to the potential risks associated with the chemicals used in treatment.
  • Alternative wood options such as cottonwood, oak, persimmon, and cypress have been suggested, but horses may still chew on any type of wood.
  • Consider factors like bending strength, decay resistance, and weathering qualities when choosing wood for horse stalls.
  • Avoid using certain types of wood like oak, black locust, walnut, and cherry, which can be toxic to horses.
  • Alternative materials like spruce logs, bamboo, and HDPE offer different advantages and considerations for horse stall construction.

Best Wood Options for Horse Stalls

When it comes to choosing the best wood for horse stalls, there are several options to consider. While there is no definitive answer, some wood types have been suggested for their durability and resistance to horse chewing. These options include cottonwood, white and red oak, blackjack oak, and persimmon. Cypress is also mentioned for its moisture resistance, and pecan is recommended due to its abundance in certain areas. However, it’s important to note that horses have been known to chew on all types of wood, regardless of the species.

To minimize the risk of chewing behavior, it is advised to take precautions such as installing a single line of electrically charged wire along the top of the fence. This can help discourage horses from chewing on the wood, regardless of the chosen type. While these wood options may provide some resistance to chewing, it is important to regularly monitor the condition of the stalls and replace any damaged or chewed wood to ensure the safety and well-being of the horses.


Wood Type Durability Resistance to Chewing
Cottonwood Medium Some
White Oak High Some
Red Oak High Some
Blackjack Oak Medium Some
Persimmon Medium Some
Cypress High Some
Pecan High Some

While the table above provides a general overview of the wood options for horse stalls, it is important to consider individual factors such as availability, cost, and local climate when making the final choice. Each wood type has its own advantages and considerations, and it is recommended to consult with experts or experienced horse owners to determine the most suitable option for your specific needs.

Risks of Using Pressure Treated Lumber in Horse Stalls

When it comes to using pressure treated lumber in horse stalls, there are certain risks that horse owners should be aware of. The chemicals used in pressure treated wood, such as chromated copper arsenate (CCA), can pose a risk to horses if ingested in large quantities. While horses typically don’t swallow wood, they do have a tendency to chew on it, especially if they are cribbers or wood chewers.

To minimize the potential harm from ingesting treated wood, there are alternative wood treatments available. Posts treated with copper naphthenate are considered safer if the horses actually ingest the wood. Copper naphthenate is less toxic than CCA and can be an effective deterrent for horses that exhibit chewing behavior. Additionally, horse owners can install a single line of electrically charged wire along the top of the fence to discourage chewing.

It’s important to note that the risk of harm from pressure treated lumber depends on the amount ingested. Horses would need to consume a significant amount of treated wood to be affected by the chemicals. However, it is always recommended to prioritize the safety and well-being of the horses by considering alternative wood options or taking precautions to minimize chewing behavior.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Wood for Horse Stalls

When selecting the ideal wood for horse stalls, several factors need to be taken into consideration. The chosen wood should possess specific qualities that ensure durability, safety, and overall suitability for the purpose. Here are the key factors to keep in mind when choosing wood for horse stalls:

  1. Bending strength: The wood should have sufficient strength to withstand the weight of horses and any potential impacts.
  2. Nail holding power: It is important to select wood that securely holds nails or screws to maintain the integrity of the stall structure.
  3. Shrinkage: Wood that is prone to excessive shrinkage may lead to gaps or instability in the stall construction.
  4. Decay resistance: Opting for wood species with natural decay resistance can help extend the lifespan of the horse stalls.
  5. Splitting resistance: Wood that is resistant to splitting is less likely to splinter or cause injuries to horses.
  6. Paintability: If desired, consider the paintability of the wood to achieve the desired aesthetic appearance.
  7. Weathering qualities: Certain wood species are more resistant to weathering, making them suitable for outdoor horse stalls.
  8. Freedom from warping: Wood that is less prone to warping ensures long-lasting stability in the stall construction.
  9. Ease of workability: Choose wood that can be easily worked with common tools for convenience during installation or modifications.

These factors will help guide your decision-making process when selecting the most suitable wood for your horse stalls. It is crucial to prioritize the safety and well-being of the horses while considering the local climate and availability of wood species.

Wood Types for Horse Stalls

Here are some popular wood options that are commonly used for horse stalls:

Wood Species Key Qualities
Brazilian hardwood Durable, strong, and resistant to decay
Southern Yellow Pine Strong, affordable, and widely available
HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) Weather-resistant, low-maintenance, and long-lasting

These wood options offer a combination of strength, durability, and resistance to various factors that can impact horse stalls. However, it is essential to evaluate each wood type’s specific characteristics and suitability for your particular requirements and climate conditions.

Wood to Avoid in Horse Stalls

wood to avoid horse stalls

When it comes to choosing the right type of wood for horse stalls, it’s equally important to know which types to avoid. Certain woods can pose health risks to horses or are not suitable for their chewing behavior. Here are some types of wood that should be avoided in horse stalls:

  • Oak: While oak is a popular choice for furniture and flooring, it contains tannins that can be harmful to horses if ingested in large quantities. Therefore, it’s best to steer clear of oak when building horse stalls.
  • Black Locust: This wood is known to contain toxic compounds in its sprouts, bark, leaves, flowers, and seed pods. It’s important to avoid using black locust in horse stalls to prevent any potential harm to the animals.
  • Red Maple: Red maple is highly toxic to horses, particularly the wilted leaves. Ingesting red maple can cause a condition called maple leaf toxicity, which can be life-threatening for horses.
  • Black Walnut: Black walnut is toxic to horses and can cause laminitis, a painful hoof condition. It’s crucial to avoid using any wood containing black walnut in horse stalls.
  • Cherry: While cherry wood is visually appealing, it is toxic to horses. Ingesting cherry wood can lead to various health issues, making it unsuitable for horse stalls.

It’s important to note that red cedar, although not toxic to horses, should also be used with caution. While red cedar is naturally resistant to decay and has a pleasant aroma, it is not as structurally strong as other wood types. Additionally, the scent of cedar can be enticing for horses to chew on, potentially leading to damage to the stalls.


When building horse stalls, it’s crucial to avoid certain types of wood that can be harmful to horses or encourage chewing behavior. Oak, black locust, red maple, black walnut, and cherry wood should be avoided due to their toxic properties or the risk of damage caused by horses’ chewing. While red cedar is not toxic, it should be used with caution due to its weaker structural strength and its appeal to horses to chew on. By selecting the right wood for horse stalls, we can ensure the safety and well-being of our equine companions.

Alternative Materials for Horse Stalls

When it comes to building horse stalls, wood is not the only option available. There are several alternative materials that can offer unique benefits and considerations. These materials provide alternatives to traditional wood construction while still ensuring the safety and comfort of your horses.

One alternative material that can be used for horse stalls is high-grade 90% Spruce J-Grade logs. These logs are seasoned in dry kilns, making them durable and resistant to warping. They can be used for various aspects of barn building, providing a strong and natural aesthetic.

Bamboo is another option to consider, particularly for flooring in certain areas of the barn. Bamboo is known for its rapid growth and exceptional strength. It is also resistant to moisture, making it a suitable choice for areas that may be exposed to water or urine.


In conclusion, the use of pressure treated lumber for horse stalls is a matter of personal preference and risk assessment. While some horse owners have used pressure treated timber, it is important to consider the potential risks associated with the chemicals used in the treatment.

There are alternative wood options and materials available for horse stalls, each with their own pros and cons. It is crucial to prioritize safety, durability, and the horse’s behavior when selecting the materials for horse stalls. Factors such as bending strength, nail holding power, decay resistance, and weathering qualities should be taken into account.

Furthermore, it is important to avoid certain types of wood that can be toxic to horses, such as oak, black locust, black walnut, and cherry. Red cedar, while aesthetically appealing, may not be as structurally strong and should be limited to exterior use.

Ultimately, the choice of materials for horse stalls should be based on a careful evaluation of the horse’s needs, the local climate, and the availability of suitable options. By considering these factors and making an informed decision, horse owners can provide a safe and comfortable environment for their equine companions.