Don’t you just hate it when the wood in your house starts catching fungus? That’s where pressure-treated wood comes into play. But what is pressure-treated wood and is it safe to use around kids?
Is preventing rot the only benefit that comes with this type of wood or am I wasting my money on it?
In this detailed guide, we answer all the burning questions about pressure-treated wood so you can make a more informed buying decision next time you go furniture shopping.
Let’s dig right into it with the obvious one!
What is Pressure Treated Wood?
Just as the name suggests, this is regular lumbar which has been treated under pressure with chemicals that prevent it from rotting.
This pressurization is done in big horizontal cylinders where the doors are vacuum sealed to ensure little to no air remains not just within the cylinders but also the cells of the lumbar.
It is these cells that the chemicals seep into giving you pressure-treated wood.
Most of the treated wood is created in this way but what would you do if the wood has already been installed in your house?
Thankfully, this isn’t the only way to tread wood. You can also dip the wood in the chemical or even spray and brush the chemical onto the wood to get the job done.
Now, the question remains,
Can I Create the Chemicals in the House Itself?
Simply put, no. This chemical combination cannot be created at home as it not only needs approval but also has to be created under the strict guidelines of the American Lumber Standards Committee (ALSC) and the American Lumber Standards Committee (ALSC).
To top it all, these chemicals are considered to be pesticides and thus are regulated and distributed by the EPA so unless you want the agencies to show up at your doorstep, I recommend you call in an authorized expert for the job.
In case you are wondering, the active ingredients in the process are alkaline copper quaternary (ACQ), copper azole (CA), or micronized copper azole (MCA).
These chemicals are packed with termite, fungus, and moisture-resistant properties that prevent rot and ensure your furniture lasts for years to come with little maintenance.
But is preventing rot the only benefit of going with pressure treated wood? Actually not, there’s more to it than meets the eye.
Benefits of Pressure-Treated Wood
It is value for money
Wait, what? Isn’t pressure treated wood more expensive than other types of wood? Yes, but only at the time of purchase. But considering it keeps out the pests and moisture and improves the longevity of your furniture (which means you don’t have to spend on repairs, replacements, etc.) it is well worth every penny spent.
Even the installation charges are lower compared to other alternatives such as stone, concrete, aluminum, or steel. Plus, you can use it anywhere in the house whether it is the outside or the inside.
Easy to use
It is just as versatile as any other wood if not more. That means you can trim it down using a saw within minutes. You can also nail it to places around the house or drill holes in it if needed. And if you have a router lying around, feel free to give it any shape you want as well.
Furthermore, it is lightweight as well when compared to metals such as aluminum or steel so you should have no trouble moving it from one room to another or to and fro your garage even without help.
Its resistance to fungus and moisture in combination with the ease of use and ability to be sawed or drilled makes it perfect for pretty much any project. And I mean not just something as small as a mailbox but you can do your entire porch or deck using it or create lighting posts as well.
Adding to this versatility is its size variation. You can get it as a set of planks or in traditional lumbar sizes to best suit your needs.
But that’s not all, there’s one more benefit and I am sure you didn’t see coming.
It is fire-resistant
One of the reasons wooden houses aren’t very popular anymore is because they are prone to fire. But not anymore, at least not if you use pressure treated wood. But not all pressure treated wood is fire-resistant.
While the process remains the same, this wood is treated with fire-resistant chemicals that seep into the space left by the air rather than the chemicals that give lumbar its moisture-resistant build.
So if you are building something close to a fireplace, this is just the kind of wood you need.
Safety Tips to Follow When Working with Pressure-Treated Wood
Always wear gloves. Since this type of wood is treated with chemicals and your hands will be in contact with them for hours, it is important to keep your skin protected. Also, make sure you wash your hands before eating or drinking (because it isn’t just Covid that is dangerous to health).
Do not try to burn it. Also, work with it on your lawn or in a big garage with open windows as the fumes can be bad for health if you choose a closed space.
Apart from gloves, goggles are equally important especially if you are sawing or drilling the wood. You don’t want to be blinded by a splinter, right?
Avoid painting treated wood unless it dries, even if that means giving 2-3 days. To test this, sprinkle a few drops of water on the wood and if it all gets soaked up then you are good to go.
You want your pressure-treated wood to be water-resistant for years and thus, I’d suggest applying a clear wood preservative like the Rust-Oleum Clear 902 once a year. The longer it stays water-resistant, the longer you won’t have to worry about mold, mildew, fungus, etc.
If you are constructing a deck or changing the flooring the biggest challenge is to tackle shrinkage as all pressure-treated wood shrinks with time.
Did your pressure-treated wood have some cracks after drying? No problem, it is a natural process. These cracks are also called checks and will show up after a year if you have the wood placed outside.
One common complaint we get with this type of wood is that it split as you try to nail or screw it. A simple solution would be to create a couple of pilot holes beforehand.
Water-based stain vs. Oil-Based Stain: What’s better and why?
If you are confused between an oil-based stain and a water-based stain, it is a personal choice unless you don’t have that option.
I say that because not all states allow the use of oil-based stains. But if your state allows both, here some tips to help you decide the best one.
If you do not like waiting for your deck to dry or want something that has an easy fix in case of damage, water-based stains are for you. Another good thing about these stains is that they do not lose color for a long time.
Also, air can pass freely in and around it which further helps prevent moisture-related damage. Though on the downside, their odor can be unsettling.
On the other hand, oil-based stains do not emit any such smell and while they will cost you a bit more, they are more resistant which means it requires less maintenance.
Yes, they dry slowly but their eye-catching, smooth finish means they are well worth the wait and the money.
Picking Stain Color
Since the stain color will be on your deck for a long time, I’d suggest you take a moment and think about the colors and if possible even try out a few colors before deciding on one.
Some brands allow you free trials so make the most of them even if it means staining takes longer. Once the test colors have been applied, give it ample time to dry as the color changes after that.
Tip: If you want a darker shade, applying multiple coats can help.
A lot of people have been asking me if applying spray paint on pressure treated wood can damage the wood and the answer is no.
In fact, I have found it easier and less time-consuming. That is because spray paint solves 2 challenges that come with brushes. One, painting the gaps is a lot of hassle, and two, you will always have spots where the paint isn’t even.
Cleaning a pressure-treated wood deck
Cleaning a deck built using pressure treated wood is just as simple as any other wooden deck. All you need are a broom and some water and voila, your deck can be spanking clean in a matter of minutes.
Now, do you need any special cleaners for every day cleaning?
Not in my opinion. That is because these cleaners have chemicals that erode the stain. But if you are looking to re-stain your deck, then it is just the kind of cleaning you want to do.
Avoid bleach cleaning solutions as they not only reduce the durability of your deck but if it is too strong, even the plants in the vicinity can get impacted.
Thankfully, there are better solutions i.e. Oxygenated cleaners. Not only are these eco-friendly but just as effective at cleaning fungus, mildew, etc. Not to forget, they also ensure your deck remains as good as new for years to come.
As you may have realized, pressure treated wood has tons of benefits. It prevents common problems that come with wooden floorings and decks such as fungus, mildew, etc. which means you get the best bang for your buck.
To top it all, everyday maintenance of it is a breeze and should take no more than 5-minutes.
So if you are planning to build a new deck, you know which kind of wood to choose now.
If you have any questions related to pressure treated wood, do leave them in the comments section below or write to me using the contact page. And if you have created a deck with pressure treated wood, don’t forget to share a few photos and tips with us.
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