Wood has been a favorite material for home building projects through the years, owing to its beauty and general durability. It’s not surprising that various products have been created to preserve and care for it, such as wood preservers.
Termites, fungi and wood-boring insects are timber’s three worst enemies. Fortunately, protection is possible through various types of natural and synthetic wood preservatives and treatments today.
Types of Wood Preservatives
Chromate Copper Arsenate
Chromium copper arsenate is a product that fights wood erosion due to an infestation of termites, fungi and other pests. It has been used as a wood-preserving pesticide since way back the 1940s. One concern raised by the United States’ Environment Protection Agency, however, is that arsenic may leak out over time and endanger the health of those who are exposed to it.
To control risks linked to wood treatment in general, the American Wood Protection Association recommends that treated wood be sold with a Consumer Information Sheet, where instructions on safe handling and disposal are provided. However, a lot of manufacturers choose to provide Material Safety Data Sheets instead. While there is an ongoing debate about the practice of distributing information about treated wood, what’s important is that the consumer is aware.
Oil-Borne Wood Preservatives
Two of the most popular types of oil-borne preservatives are creosote and pentachlorophenol. Creosote has been a common figure in the history of protecting outdoor wood structures like bridges and railroad ties. This technique calls for timber being placed in a sealed chamber, where air and moisture is removed from it through a vacuum. The creosote is then impregnated into the timber through pressure treatment. Pentacholorphenol, an organochlorine compound, is both a pesticide and a disinfectant rolled into one. The substance can be applied through pressure or brushed into the wood, or the wood may be soaked or dipped in it.
Water-Borne Wood Preservers
Water-based preservatives are some of the cheapest you’ll find in the market, but because of their water content, they tend to cause wood to swell or warp. Copper HDO and ammoniacal copper zinc arsenate are just two of the various types of water-based wood preservers available today.
A remarkable trend in the modern wood preservative industry is the production of more environment-friendly options like heat treatments and acetylation. The chemical composition of timber, when heated at peak temperatures in the absence of oxygen, makes it inedible to insects and microorganisms.
Acetylation does not involve pressurized treatments but instead protects wood by reducing moisture in the cell wall until nothing is left for fungi to thrive. The wood then becomes stronger and more termite-resistant because it is now harder and drier than before.