Different Types of Wood Preservatives

bg.jpgMany Houston homeowners cannot wait to install a new fence or deck. These structures can increase the value of your property and improve its usability. Before you can start enjoying your new fence, you need to make a few important decisions. Selecting the right wood, design and installation company will ensure that you are investing in a product that will last for many years. Durable woods like cedar and redwood can be used without additional treatments, but pine and other softwoods need some protection to protect them from the elements. You should ask a Houston fence company which wood or wood preservative will be the best investment. Even if you are shopping on your own, you can use this information to identify treated lumber that will make a great fence or outdoor structure.

The Importance of Preservatives

Wood is an excellent choice for decorative fences, privacy fences and landscape structures. No man-made material can match the appealing organic look that wood provides. Unfortunately, wood is vulnerable to microorganisms, insects and our Texas weather. Luckily, lumber companies have found a few clever ways to protect wood from these perils. Treated wood can last 20 years or more in the harsh conditions of your backyard. Oil-based treatments and water-soluble salts are used to treat 90 percent of outdoor lumber. Registered pesticides and other chemicals help wood resist decay, repel wood-destroying organisms and withstand all kinds of weather.

Pressure-Treated Wood

This is by far the most popular type of lumber for outdoor use. It is a great choice for a Houston fence because it is widely available, competitively priced and uniformly treated. In the past, arsenic was used to preserve lumber, but this toxic compound was phased out in 2004. Now, most pressure-treated lumber contains copper salts and fungicides. Copper compounds can give the wood a greenish tint. This type of wood is favored because it has been treated under pressure, which ensures that the wood has been thoroughly penetrated with preservatives to a depth of 2.5 inches. Both chromated copper arsenate (CCA) and ammoniacal copper arsenate (ACA) are water soluble but leach resistant.

Oil-Based Treatments

Creosote and pentachlorophenol (PCP) are two popular oil-based wood preservatives. Creosote can be extracted from coal tar, petroleum products or wood. It gives lumber a dark brownish-black appearance that is seen in pole barns, telephone poles and railroad ties. This chemical helps lumber resist rain while repelling insects and fungi. PCP, also called penta, is a powerful preservative that is mixed with volatile solvents that evaporate over time. Penta might be used during manufacture or installation when it is brushed over cuts and bore holes. Specialized preservatives, such as copper-8-quinolinolate and copper naphthenate, are available for applications where livestock and feed will be in contact with the lumber. These preservatives are more costly, but they are ideal for certain structures.

Treated wood is an excellent choice for any Houston wood fence, but not all treated wood is the same. Some naturally durable woods, including red cedar, are very difficult to treat with pressure or by soaking. However, an untreated cedar fence can still last for several decades. Although some people have been concerned about chemical preservatives, these treatments benefit the environment by extending the life of lumber and limiting the amount of trees that are needed to replace untreated wood.

When purchasing treated lumber, always look for products that display the American Wood Preserver’s Bureau (AWPB) seal. This industry group performs random factory inspections and has set preservative retention standards for hard and soft woods that will be used for fence posts and other outdoor applications. By working with a local fence company, you can be sure that you will get the best wood, metal, vinyl or chain link fence that you can buy.