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Forest Products Laboratory
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2398
Phone: (608) 231-9200
Fax: (608) 231-9592


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Durability and Wood Protection Research

Project Title :  Improved wood treatments that impart durability to treated wood products without adversely impacting the environment
Project Number : FPL-4723-3B
Start Date : 10-01-2012
End Date : 09-30-2017

View the 14 publications associated with this project.

Principal Investigator:
Carol A. Clausen

Non Technical Summary
PhotoAlmost 400 million cubic feet of preservative-treated wood is produced and consumed in the U.S. annually, with residential applications representing a significant percentage of the treated wood market. However, more environmentally compatible preservative systems are needed to replace conventional broad-spectrum biocides. Since historic changes in 2004 with the voluntary withdrawal of chromated copper arsenate from residential applications, the wood preservation industry has undergone a decade of dynamic changes, including challenges with corrosion, leaching, preservative tolerance by decay fungi, and mold growth on treated products along with fears that replacement preservative systems may also face environmental scrutiny. There is an increasing interest in tailoring preservative treatments to decay hazard and use category rather than using broad-spectrum pesticides for all applications. Societal pressures for environmentally compatible preservatives are difficult to solve swiftly because it takes many years to conduct long-term evaluations to vet a new preservative. Improved methods are needed to more rapidly assess the potential for a preservative to provide long term protection from decay and insects and resist fastener corrosion. These methods must be adapted to assess the severity of the biodeterioration or corrosion hazard anticipated for each use category. The environmental impact of existing preservative-treatments must also be minimized to insure that treated wood can be safely disposed and that is does not adversely affect water quality.

Objectives Summary
The objectives of this problem area are to evaluate the treatability and durability of underutilized wood species from the changing forest resource. We will develop and evaluate methods that accelerate the process of assessing long-term performance of preservative products, develop non-destructive methods for quantitation of decay, and correlate an integrated series of laboratory and field tests. Minimizing leaching of preservative into aquatic environments and from above-ground applications will be assessed to reduce the impact of new wood protection systems. Recycling methods will be developed for treated wood products to divert this waste material from landfills and enable the recycled/remediated wood fiber to be refabricated into value-added products.

Approach Summary
We will investigate methods for reducing the levels of preservative needed, evaluate naturally durable wood species, emphasizing underutilized and invasive wood species and their chemical extractives, and explore alternative methods of impregnating the chemicals to improve environmental and durability performance of existing preservative treatments. Better accelerated test methods to predict performance will be developed to reduce the time needed for the development and acceptance of new environmentally-preferable preservatives. Low-cost treatment options for small diameter materials are needed in order to develop value-added markets for excess biomass to reduce the wildfire hazard as part of the National Fire Plan. Selection of wood species to be evaluated with both conventional and alternative preservatives will be based on their potential contribution to the hazardous fuel levels in the forests, their availability, and the potential market for the treated wood. Evaluation will include the treatability of the wood species by a given preservative and the durability of the treated material. For difficult-to-treat species, options for improving treatability will be investigated. Non-pressure methods and remedial treatments provide low-cost treatment options and the ability to treat wood in-service. Finally, recycling methods that keep treated wood from disposal in landfills will be developed.

Publications associated with this Project

Publication YearTitleDate Posted
2013Boron Diffusion in Surface-Treated Framing Lumber07/25/14
2014Documenting the Durability and Service Life of Pressure-treated Wood03/26/14
2014Effect of precipitation pattern on leaching of preservative from treated wood and implications for accelerated testing10/20/14
2013Evaluating Naturally Durable Wood Species for Repair and Rehabilitation of Above-Ground Components of Covered Bridges08/05/13
2014Evaluation of Wood Species and Preservatives for Use in Wisconsin Highway Sign Posts08/04/14
2012Guide for Use of Wood Preservatives in Historic Structures10/09/12
2014In-Place Preservative Treatments for Covered Bridges03/26/14
2013Long-Term Durability of Pressure-Treated Wood in a Severe Test Site05/29/13
2014Microbial Community Analysis of Naturally Durable Wood in an Above Ground Field Test07/18/14
2014Principal Component Analysis of Microbial Community Data from an Accelerated Decay Cellar Test08/14/14
2014Rate My Stake: Interpretation of Ordinal Stake Ratings03/26/14
2012Relationship between wood-inhabiting fungi and Reticulitermes spp11/05/13
2013The role of extractives in naturally durable wood species05/14/13
2013Transferable Durability: Enhancing decay resistance of non-durable species with extractives from durable wood species06/26/13

Project Summaries last modified: 02-28-2013