What is Pressure-Treated Wood

Pressure-treated wood and lumber is wood that has been treated with a chemical solution to protect it from rot, decay, and termites.

The process of pressure treating lumber makes the wood stronger and more durable, so it can be used for a variety of applications, including decks, fences, retaining walls, and shed foundations.

What is Pressure-Treated Wood Used For?

Pressure-treated wood is used for decking, fencing, tongue, and groove, pergolas, raised beds, privacy screens, shed foundations, and other outdoor structures that are exposed to the elements.

It is also often used for foundation posts, mailbox posts, handrails, and other applications where the wood will be in contact with the ground.

Related: Cheap, Quick, And Easy Alternatives To Decking

How is Pressure-Treated Wood Made?

The process of pressure treating lumber begins by placing the wood in a large tank of chemical solution.

The solution is then pressurized, and the chemicals are forced into the wood.

The pressure and time that the wood is treated will determine how much protection it has from rot, decay, and termites.

Related: Does Pressure-Treated Wood Rot? (MAYBE?)

The chemicals involved in the production

Chromated copper arsenate, or CCA, was formerly the most widely used chemical to treat wood.

However, in 2003, due to health and environmental issues surrounding arsenic leaching out of the wood, the Environmental Protection Agency limited CCA usage in residential settings.

The most popular alternative to CCA is alkaline copper quat, commonly known as ACQ.

Copper is poisonous to many insects and fungi that may cause decay. Wood lasts decades when exposed to the ground thanks to ACQ, which binds strongly to wood fibers and allows the wood to endure years in touch with the earth.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Pressure Treated Wood

What Are the Advantages of Pressure-Treated Wood?

Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of pressure-treated wood:

  • Cost.
  • Durability.
  • Ease of Use.
  • Fire Resistance.
  • Fungal Resistance.
  • Insect Resistance.
  • Moisture Resistance.
  • Variety of Sizes.

Cost

Even though pressure-treated wood is more expensive than natural wood, it is still one of the most affordable building materials. And, because it is so durable, pressure-treated wood will last longer than natural wood, making it a more cost-effective choice in the long run.

Durability

Pressure-treated wood is more durable than untreated wood, so it will last longer. It is also resistant to rot and decay, and it is less likely to be damaged by termites.

Ease of Use

Pressure-treated wood is easy to work with, and it can be cut, drilled, and nailed just like natural wood.

It is also easy to stain and paint, so you can customize it to match your home’s style.

Related: How to Paint Pressure-Treated Wood (THE RIGHT WAY)

Fire Resistance

Pressure-treated wood has a higher fire rating than untreated wood, so it is more resistant to fire damage.

Fungal Resistance

Pressure-treated wood is resistant to fungal decay, so it will not rot or mildew.

Insect Resistance

Pressure-treated wood is resistant to termites and other insects, so it will not be damaged by these pests.

Moisture Resistance

Pressure-treated wood is more resistant to moisture than untreated wood, so it is less likely to warp, crack, or splinter.

Variety of Sizes

Pressure-treated lumber is available in a variety of sizes, so you can find the perfect lumber for your project. 2x4s, 2x6s, and 4x4s are the most common sizes, but pressure-treated lumber is also available in other sizes, such as 1x4s and 6x6s.

What Are the Disadvantages of Pressure-Treated Wood?

Let’s take a look at some of the disadvantages of pressure-treated wood:

  • Environmental Concerns.
  • Toxicity.
  • Staining.

Environmental Concerns

Some people are concerned about the environmental impact of pressure-treated wood.

The chemicals used to treat the wood can be harmful to the environment, and they can also leach into the soil.

Toxicity

The chemicals used to treat pressure-treated wood are toxic, so you should take precautions when working with it.

Wear gloves and a dust mask when cutting or sanding pressure-treated wood, and wash your hands after working with it.

Staining

Pressure-treated wood can stain your clothing and skin. If you get pressure-treated wood on your clothes, wash them immediately. And, if you get the wood on your skin, wash it off with soap and water.

FAQs

Is Pressure-treated lumber Toxic?

According to the National Academy of Sciences, the chemicals used to treat pressure-treated wood are toxic. The Academy recommends that you take precautions when working with pressure-treated wood, such as wearing gloves and a dust mask and washing your hands after working with it.

When did they stop using arsenic in pressure-treated wood?

The use of arsenic was stopped on December 31, 2003. Chromated copper arsenate (CCA) was the most common type of pressure-treated wood, and it contained arsenic.

Related: Choosing The Right Fastener And Screws For Your Deck

About the Author

Passionate about helping households transition to sustainable energy with helpful information and resources.

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