In the world of timber, its natural attributes alone make it a preferred choice for construction and decor. However, like any natural material, timber will degrade over time when exposed to certain elements. This is where timber treatment comes in. Aside from boosting durability, these treatments also help preserve the wood and extend its lifetime, enhancing its natural beauty, and protecting it from threats such as insects, fungi, and adverse weather conditions. Let’s explore some of the main timber treatments and their respective pros and cons.
Pressure Treated Timber
The pressure treatment process involves vacuuming out all the air in the timber and replacing it with a preservative. This process ensures deep penetration into the timber, providing long-lasting resistance against decay and insect attacks.
- Pros: This treatment type can offer protection for up to 60 years. It’s perfect for outdoor structures exposed to the elements and soil, such as fence posts and decking.
- Cons: The colour of the wood may slightly change due to treatment, and it requires appropriate handling due to the chemical content.
Heat-treated timber goes through a process of heating in kilns at high temperatures. The main purpose of this is to improve the timber’s resistance to rot and make it less attractive to insects.
- Pros: This treatment uses no chemicals, making it an environmentally friendly option. It also tends to darken the timber, which could be aesthetically appealing for some uses.
- Cons: The downside of heat-treated timber is that it can make the wood brittle, which may not be suitable for all construction purposes.
Tanalising is another pressure treatment where timber is infused with Tanalith E, a water-based wood preservative that contains copper and organic biocides.
- Pros: Tanalised timber provides excellent protection against wood-destroying fungi and insects, making it perfect for outdoor structures.
- Cons: Direct skin contact should be avoided, and special care should be employed in its disposal, as it can be harmful to the environment.
Oil-based treatments, like linseed or Danish oil, are designed to penetrate deep into the wood, offering protection, and enhancing the natural pattern and colour.
- Pros: Delivers a natural, rich, and pleasing finish that highlights the timber’s natural grain. They are easy to apply and maintain.
- Cons: They need frequent reapplication, usually annually, to maintain effectiveness.
Paint can offer a layer of protection from the weather and pests. It can also bring any desired colour to the timber, allowing for the creation of a broad range of aesthetics.
- Pros: Paint provides a strong barrier against moisture and sun damage and is an excellent way to blend your timber with the look and feel of your space.
- Cons: Prepping the wood for painting requires time and effort, and frequent maintenance is necessary to keep it looking fresh.
Varnish forms a tough, glossy coat on the wood surface, protecting it against scratches, heat, and chemical damage.
- Pros: Varnishes protect the wood while also bringing out its natural beauty and doesn’t drastically alter wood’s colour.
- Cons: They may crack or peel over time, requiring periodic sanding and reapplication.
Choosing the right timber treatment depends not only on the environmental conditions that your timber will face but also on the aesthetic you want to achieve. While each treatment comes with its pros and cons, optimum effectiveness is achieved when you match the right treatment with the correct use and environment.
As timber specialists in the UK, we are always ready to guide you on all your timber needs, including advising you on the best treatments for your specific project. Contact us today and a member of our team will be happy to help with any queries you have.