Understanding the Different Types of Wood Preservatives

Wood has been a favorite material for home building projects through the years, owing to its beauty and general durability. No wonder everything is being done to care for it and prolong its life, such as wood preservers

Termites, fungi and wood-boring insects are timber’s three worst enemies. Fortunately, there are various types of natural wood preservatives and synthetic wood treatments available today.

Types of Wood Preservatives

Chromate Copper Arsenate

Chromium copper arsenate is a pesticide that strengthens wood against fungi, termites and other pests. It has been a popular wood-preserving pesticide since the 1940s. However, according to the United States’ Environment Protection Agency, there is a chance that arsenic will leak out and put the health of those exposed at risk.

To mitigate the risks that come with wood treatment in general, all treated wood should be sold with a Consumer Information Sheet that details all handling and disposal precautions that must be taken. Many manufacturers, however, prefer to provide Material Safety Data Sheets over CIS. 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 Preservers

Two of the most popular types of oil-borne preservatives are creosote and pentachlorophenol. Creosote has a whole history of being used to prevent rot for outdoor applications, such as in railroad ties and bridges. This method involves putting timber in a sealed chamber and removing air and moisture using 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. It can be applied to wood by spraying, dipping or brushing, by soaking the wood in the liquid, or by pressure.

Water-Borne Wood Preservatives

Water-based preservatives are typically the least expensive, but their disadvantage is that they tend to cause swelling or warping because of the water that they contain. Ammoniacal copper zinc arsenate and copper citrate are two very popular types of water-based wood preservers that you can find n the market these days.

A rising trend in the industry of wood preservation is the creation of alternative methods that are more environment-friendly, such as acetylation and heat treatments. Heating timber to extreme temperatures without oxygen changes its chemical composition and renders it useless to microbes and insects.

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.

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