Banner for LabNotes
From Lab Notes
Contact Information
Forest Products Laboratory
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2398
Phone: (608) 231-9200
Fax: (608) 231-9592


You are here: FPL Home  / Information Products & Services  / Publications

Requested Product

Title: Surface characterization

Source: Handbook of wood chemistry and wood composites. Boca Raton, Fla. : CRC Press, 2005: pages 187-211.

Author(s)Tshabalala, Mandla A.

Publication Year: 2005  View PDF »

Category: Journal Articles

Abstract: Surface properties of wood play an important role when wood is used or processed into different commodities such as siding, joinery, textiles, paper, sorption media or wood composites. Thus, for example, the quality and durability of a wood coating are determined by the surface properties of the wood and the coating. The same is true for wood composites, as the efficiency of stress transfer from the wood component to the non-wood component is strongly influenced by the surface properties of both components. Surface properties of wood can be divided into two major groups: physical and chemical properties. Physical properties include morphology, roughness, smoothness, specific surface area and permeability. Chemical properties include elemental and molecular, or functional, group composition. Together, these two major groups of properties determine the thermodynamic characteristics of the wood surface, such as surface free energy and surface acid-base acceptor and donor numbers. Wood has a cellular structure, the cell walls of which are composed of three major constituents: cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignin. In addition to these major constituents, the cell walls also contain pectins, extractives and trace metals. The surface properties of wood are therefore determined by the morphology of the cell wall at the surface of a wood element (particle, fiber, flake, or chip), and the distribution of the major and minor constituents in the cell wall. Hence, to optimize the interaction between a wood surface and a coating, or a matrix in a wood composite, the surface properties of both the wood and the coating, or the matrix in a composite, must be known. Methods for characterizing surface properties of wood may be divided into three broad categories: microscopic, spectroscopic, and thermodynamic. Microscopic methods provide information about surface morphology; spectroscopic methods provide information about surface chemistry, and thermodynamic methods provide information about the surface energy.

Keywords: Microscopy; spectrum analysis; thermodynamics; wood surfaces; surface chemistry; surface roughness; coatings; contact angle; inverse gas chromatography; microscopy; spectroscopy

File size: 466 kb(s)

This publication is also viewable on Treesearch:  view
RITS Product ID: 13494
Current FPL Scientist associated with this product
Tshabalala, Mandla A.
Research Chemist

Additional items that might interest you
View the video celebrating FPL's 100 years of public service in 2010, from the producers of the Greatest Good....view

Research Highlights from FPL....view

Termite Eradication: A search for the Holy Grail.... view

Moisture Management in Residential Construction Series videos...view

Wood Floor Systems in Residential Construction Series videos....view
- FPL's Mission and Strategic Plan -

FPL's mission is to identify and conduct innovative wood and fiber utilization research that contributes to conservation and productivity of the forest resource, thereby sustaining forests, the economy, and quality of life. ... ..more »

- FPL Research Emphasis Areas -
Advanced Composites

As an integral part of the FPL mission, we improve the long-term sustainability of our Nation's forests by creating valuable composite products from biobased materials ... ..more »

Advanced Structures

The FPL has been in the forefront of wood-frame housing research since 1910 and has long been recognized as a world leader in such housing-related areas as engineered wood ... ..more »

Forest Biorefinery

We all know the compelling reasons that the United States needs to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. Historically, the greatest increases in energy demand have been for transportation fuels ... ..more »


A leader in wood products research for over a century, the FPL is positioning itself to become the lead Federal research facility for the application of nanotechnology in forest products ... more »

Woody Biomass Utilization

Forests in the United States contain a substantial amount of small-diameter, overstocked, and underutilized material.FPL research projects are exploring the potential of the small-diameter ... ..more »