Soil and water

Avoid replacing, using pressure treated lumber with these tips


Last week, after posting my column on solutions for disposing of wood treated with preservatives, a colleague reminded me that I had ignored the best alternative to disposal.

Recycling of pressure-treated wood is not possible in local programs because toxins must be kept away from mulch and compost, and reuse is limited by concerns about inhaling toxic dust from the site. cutting and sanding treated wood. But “reducing” discharges should be the top priority.

Rather than removing and replacing pressure-treated lumber, consider repairs first. If the framing is still strong, issues like warped, bulging, split or chipped wood can be solved with some effort, while problems like loose nails or discolored luster can be solved more easily.

The simplest cosmetic repair is pressure washing and staining of the wood. Over time, foot traffic, inclement weather, and the sun’s ultraviolet rays will affect the surface of the wood, but for unpainted treated wood, you can bring back the beauty of the original wood grain.

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Manufacturers suggest applying a clear or semi-transparent stain containing UV inhibitor and water repellant every year or two to maintain the beauty of the exterior wood.

The simplest structural repair is to replace loose nails with screws. Screws have more holding force and can correct minor deformations, suction cups, or bends.

Sanding can reduce the high edges of weather-worn wood, but sanding treated wood requires a dust mask, safety glasses, and a shower afterwards. An alternative to sanding can be to flip the board.

Use fasteners and connectors approved by the building code and resistant to corrosion and suitable for use in pressure treated wood, such as hot-dip galvanized fasteners or stainless steel. Coastal areas of Ventura County, especially with saltwater spray, must use code approved stainless steel fasteners and connectors.

Treated wood available at local home improvement stores is likely to be infused with copper azole. Copper prevents soil fungi from attacking the wood and deters insects, including termites.

Copper Azole, developed by Viance, LLC, has been approved by the American Wood Products Association and the US EPA and has replaced wood treatments of the past.

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In contrast, treated wood from over 18 years ago probably contains arsenic or creosote, and some wood still sold for industrial purposes contains these toxic treatments.

Creosote-treated wood in your garden definitely needs to be replaced, and wood treated with chromated copper arsenate is also of concern, according to FineGardening.com. An article summarizes the technical studies on the subject.

Inorganic arsenic accumulates in living tissue, and the cited study shows that the arsenic “has migrated from the wood to the surrounding soil”. While only samples within three inches of the edges of the wood showed “arsenic levels above background levels” and arsenic uptake in the edible parts of the vegetables was also limited, concerns remain because. that soil from various parts of a raised vegetable bed spread during gardening.

For a non-toxic alternative, Accoya, offered in Ventura County through Sierra Forest Products, in Chino, and Royal Plywood, in Cerritos, treats the wood with acetic anhydride. It only releases vinegar into the surrounding soil, according to Daniel Trebelhorn, a spokesperson for Accoya.

Trebelhorn also stated in an email “superior dimensional stability, rot / rot resistance” and warranties of 50 years above ground and 25 years on ground contact or freshwater.

Ventura County Building Manager Ruben Barrera noted that not all alternatives are “permanently approved” options. He said the options would be considered and approved “as appropriate” in response to a proposed permit application. Many uses, such as raised beds, do not require a permit.

Non-toxic wood treatments are more expensive than conventional treatments, closer to redwood, another alternative to treated wood.

Trex and other composite decking manufacturers also offer alternatives to wood decking. Although more expensive than treated lumber, composites are durable and made from recycled products such as wood fiber from cabinet and door manufacturers, carpet fiber, and plastic film from bags.

As an added benefit, some of the plastic bags used by Trex at their Nevada plant are collected in Ventura County.

David Goldstein, environmental resources analyst at the Ventura County Public Works Agency, can be contacted at [email protected] or 805-658-4312.


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