Looking to build or repair your deck this spring? How about construct a home, add an addition, or remodel? If so, you are more than likely going to use some form of pressure treated lumber for your project. Pressure treated lumber is used in a variety of applications from in ground usage like foundation sill plates and pilings, to above ground decking and framing. Knowing what your choice of building material is made with is an important factor in determining how to proceed with your project. Before you go to Home Depot, consider the following information when purchasing treated lumber.
Pressure treated lumber has been around since the mid 19th century, and treating wood to preserve it has been practiced since the beginning of recorded history. The term “Pressure Treated” comes from the process used to treat the wood and infuse it with the treatment substances. The wood is submerged into a solution and pressurized until it soaks up the solution and then usually baked until dry. Pressure treating wood prevents pest damage, water damage, mold and rot. The benefits of using treated lumber are great, until you consider what the lumber is treated with. Methods vary but the main conventional varieties are produced with Alkaline Copper quaternary, Copper Azole, Micronized Copper, and other insecticide/fungicide based chemicals. In all, most of the treated lumber used today is full of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), and poses health risks where applied. The wiki on treated lumber states; “treated wood may present certain hazards in some circumstances such as during combustion or where loose wood dust particles or other fine toxic residues are generated or where treated wood comes into direct contact with food and agriculture.” The health and environmental threat that common pressure treated lumber poses is simply not worth using it, not in my home anyway.
Thankfully, there are alternatives to chemical based wood treatment. New methods of treating wood have emerged that produce the same results as chemical based methods but without the toxic drawbacks. One such process is a new product that infuses the wood with sodium silicate, a mixture of sand and soda ash used since the 1800′s in detergents and as an egg preserver. Lumber soaks in it under pressure, then is baked until an insoluble matrix of amorphous glass which hardens and essentially “shrink wraps” the wood fibers throughout and fills the micro-channels with molecular-thin, layers of glass. TimberSIL has pioneered this proprietary process and has worked diligently to make this product truly green.
The EPA conducted a four year assessment of the method used in TimberSIL wood and determined the product to be;
- Not a pesticide
- A barrier product
- Exempt from all pesticide regulations
Unlike conventional pressure treated wood TimberSIL is paintable, stainable and is also rated a Class A fire retardant because of the infused glass’s natural resistance to fire. It also carries a 40 year guarantee and has won several awards for innovation in green products. Ideal for decking applications, it is also designed for interior and exterior, above-ground and in-ground use. Available in dimensional sizes for framing, decking, balusters, siding, tongue and groove flooring and pilings.
TimberSIL is available at Maine Green Building Supply located at 111 Fox St. in Portland.