Protecting Wood With Preservative Treatments
Wood is an organic substance, subject to decay from various natural agents. Although a few hardwoods like ipe and teak contain natural chemicals which resist insects and molds, most woods used for log homes, siding, fences and other exterior applications will need effective preservative treatments to make them resistant to insects, water, fire, thermal cycling, fungus and other microorganisms. There are many different products available for this purpose, which makes this subject fairly complex.
To learn which wood preservatives are best suited for the EZ Log cabins and homes we build, we've studied the published literature for a wide range of materials. Available wood preservatives fall into at least five basic groups, including borates, copper compounds, sodium silicate solutions, natural neem seed oils, and IPBC chemical biocides. However, three of these groups represent ineffective performance and other concerns. The first of these three groups involve products containing neem seed oils, because published studies reveal they provide insufficient protection against termites. IPBC chemical biocides are another group you should study carefully before using. That's because the literature provided for IPBC chemicals supports their effectiveness for protecting wood from molds, but not from insects like termites and wood boring beetles. In addition, IPBC biocides are extremely toxic for fish. The third group of products which raises concerns are those containing sodium silicate. Before using them, you should be aware that eye contact with sodium silicate will result in intense pain and possible damage to eye tissue. In addition, contact with sodium silicate can cause permanent damage to the lungs, bronchia, and other parts of the respiratory system, as well as burns to the skin and digestive system.
A variety of copper compounds are very effective as wood preservatives. However, at least one of these is no longer used for most residential applications because of EPA restrictions. Some copper compounds are only intended for use in pressure treating wood. Many copper compounds exhibit strong greenish tints which are not very compatible with most wood stain colors. Other copper-based wood preservatives can produce unpleasant lingering odors.
One copper-based wood preservative which is very effective against insects and molds, will not adversely affect wood stain colors, and isn't known for an objectionable odor. Used by at least two manufacturers, this wood preservative is blended into exterior stains designed for use on log homes and wood siding. Approved for sale in all fifty states, these wood preservative stains provide effective protection against water, insects and molds, are approved by the EPA, and approved by the FDA for use on picnic tables and other wood surfaces which may have incidental contact with food.
Another effective wood preservative is a borate (a compound based on the non-metallic element boron) which is extremely effective in protecting wood against termites, wood boring beetles, ants, molds, and fungus. This material is among the safest materials available for use as a wood preservative, and its toxicity level for humans is lower that of than table salt. Because this boron compound is also effective as a fire retardant used in mattresses and cellulose insulation, we've included another page of information to cover that subject.
Below, you'll find links to a set of information pages with more details related to these subjects. If you have more questions about protecting your EZ log home, cabin, barn, or shed, please feel free to call us anytime using the phone numbers at the bottom of this page. And you're always welcome to stop by our north I-35 location near Braker Lane, or our south location in Oak Hill on Highway 290, just south of Monterey Oaks Blvd.