Thanks to its aesthetics and overall durability, wood has become a favorite home construction material through the years. No wonder everything is being done to care for it and prolong its life, such as wood preservers
Timber has three mortal enemies, namely, fungi, wood-boring insects, and termites. Fortunately, there are now several options of natural wood preservatives and synthetic wood treatments that can provide protection.
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. The United States’ Environment Protection Agency is concerned, however, that arsenic may leak out and cause health risks to those who are exposed to it.
As a way to control risks associated with wood treatment in general, the American Wood Protection Association recommends that all treated wood come with a Consumer Information Sheet that provides guidelines on safe handling and disposal. Several manufacturers though opt to provide Material Safety Data Sheets rather than 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. Then the creosote is applied by way of pressure treatment. Acting like a pesticide and a disinfectant in one is pentachlorophenol, an organochlorine compound. 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 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. 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. The chemical composition of timber, when heated at peak temperatures in the absence of oxygen, makes it inedible to insects and microorganisms.
Instead of infusing water-based preservatives into wood through pressure, acetylation chemically changes wood by reducing moisture in its cell wall enough that fungal degradation becomes impossible. The wood then becomes stronger and more termite-resistant because it is now harder and drier than before.