As winter approaches and the days turn colder, damper and darker we take extra measures to keep ourselves warm and dry and protected from the elements. But, what about your timber projects, constructions and buildings? Outdoor installations can be particularly at risk of damage if it has not been treated to withstand its environment.

Understanding the prevention processes and how your timber has been or needs to be treated will help you to provide the right protection to maintain your projects all winter long.

Treated Timber

Most softwood timber suitable for external use has already been treated to extend its lifespan. The treatments used will often depend on the intended use. Timber likely to come into contact with the ground such as decking, will need to be especially resilient and tough. Several tonnes of wood are placed in large tanks, which are then filled with the chemical solution for treatment. The preservatives are then pushed deeply into the wood by a high pressure system, guaranteeing that they will remain protected for a long time after installation.

The Class System Of Treated Timber  

As mentioned above, the treatment of wood will depend on its intended use.  Softwood intended for decking components must be pressure treated.  The amount of preservative used is categorised under a class system:

  • Class 3 - Class 3 categorisation includes timber that is not intended to come into contact with the ground.  This can include balustrades and cladding.
  • Class 4 - Class 4 categorised timber is suitable for contact with the ground or with fresh water.  Class 4 timber has a stronger preservation method and will prevent quicker degradation.  Timber that must mee class 4 standards include posts, beams, joists and some deck boards.

What Can Affect Your Timber?

Moisture is the main cause of problems that can affect timber.  Oak, for example, naturally absorbs moisture from the air which can impact the size, shape and quality of the timber.  When humidity levels increase, the moisture content of the wood will also increase causing it to expand.  In the winter, humidity levels actually tend to reduce meaning the atmosphere is dryer which can cause timber to shrink.  Combine that with artificial heating, the moisture content is forced out which can lead to warping.   

Mould can also cause damage to areas exposed to the elements.  This can be tricky to treat so prevention is the best policy here.  Inspect the timber throughout the year to look for any potential problems, cracks or unpainted areas.  

The Solution

Controlling the humidity by using dehumidifiers inside timber constructions can help by keeping moisture at a steady level.  Which can help to prevent cracking and warping.  

Coatings and finishes should be applied liberally to allow it to soak in thoroughly.  This will slow down moisture movement whilst preservative treatments will prevent the growth of fungi and bacteria .

Damage prevention is essential.  Remove leaves from decking and away from timber outbuildings and clean stains as soon as you spot them to prevent permanent damage.

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