|How To Protect New
Wood Framing With Borate Products Like TIM-BOR
By Christine Brewton
The year 2003 marked the end of an era for the building industry.
Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA) pressure treated wood – a product
that was been used effectively for 70 years is no longer be available
effective December 31, 2003, but what does the future hold?
Replacement treatments will be either copper-based, such as alkaline copper
quat (ACQ,) or borate based, such as disodium octaborate tetrahydrate
(DOT) (such as TIM-BOR Professional)
for lumber and plywood, and zinc borate for wood composites. Copper-based
products are best suited for treating exterior wood used in fences and
decks, while borate preservatives (such as
TIM-BOR Professional) have superior
functionality for interior building construction applications such as
dimensional lumber and sheathing, sill plates and furring strips.
Using borate treated wood for structural components builds protection
against wood destroying organisms directly into the framing package,
lowering the need for pesticides. From termites to rot and decay, the
treated wood acts as a sentry against these silent,
hidden threats. Plus, borates are among the most cost-effective wood
Borates have proven effective over time – and safe for people, pets and the
environment. Their 60-year track record, plus a twenty year warranty for
homeowners, have encouraged many treaters – such as Royal Pacific Industries
and the Pacific Wood Preserving Companies – to get into the game ahead of
the 2003 deadline. The number of treatment facilities providing borates has
increased manifold due to increasing demand.
Other borate benefits include:
►Borates Don’t Corrode. Borates
are often used as corrosion inhibitors in paints and serve the same purpose
in wood. No special fasteners are required when building with borate
pressure treated wood.
►Borates Don’t Quit. The
long-term performance of borates is well established. Borates do not degrade
or off gas, and years of intensive research have not revealed a single
instance of wood destroying organisms developing resistance to borates. In
New Zealand’s rain-soaked
climate, borate treated wood has been used for more than 50 years to protect
homes against wood destroying organisms without a single case of failure.
►Borates Pass Muster. Borate
treated wood is recognized by the International Residential Code, the
International Building Code, the 2001 Florida Building Code, the 1997
Standard Building Code, and various evaluation reports such as ER-4890
(issued to U.S. Borax Inc.), NER-648 (Osmose), and ER-5548 (Arch). Beyond
building codes, borates also pass muster with the federal government.
Architects designing housing for a Navy base in Belle Chase, Louisiana,
specified that the entire 525-unit development use borate-treated OSB and
lumber for its structural system. Similarly, borates were used to protect
the structural framework of the HUD-backed St. Thomas HOPE VI development –
a mixed-use community of 1,200 homes in Louisiana.
►Savings Over Steel. In the
above-cited projects and other projects, builders sought environmentally
sustainable building materials and integrated pest management into the
design and construction. They found that borate treated building materials
cost less – in one case saving eight dollars per
square foot over steel framing.
►Value in the Private Sector.
Borate preservatives offer value in the private sector, too. A growing
number of custom home and production builders in the southeastern United
States offer built-in protection from termites and decay through the use of
borate treated wood. Some housing
developments feature borate treated wood in partial structural systems for
the ‘”suspenders,” – the exterior wall system, from sill plate to top plate.
Borates are also used to repair buildings that have been damaged by
termites, decay, carpenter ants, and other wood destroying organisms.
Dr. Dennis Ring, an entomologist with Louisiana State University’s Ag.
Extension Service, suggests always replacing termite-damaged wood with
borate treated wood. He asks, rhetorically, “Why keep feeding them
(termites.)”? In his lectures on the aggressive Formosan termite, prevalent
along the Gulf Coast, he quips “There are three types of homes in the South;
those that have termites, those that will have termites, and those that are
built out of borate treated wood.”
Address Moisture Problems. Moisture and dampness do not decrease the
performance of borates – in fact, they can
help because borates move from areas of low moisture to areas of high
moisture, borate treated wood products can act as reservoirs that feed
borates into areas of greatest need. This mobility is not, however, a
problem at the construction site. Normal exposure to weather during
construction does not adversely affect performance.
How Do Borates Work?
Termites, decay fungi, and other organisms require moisture to survive and
prosper. These wood destroying organisms often gravitate to areas of high
moisture. Borates work by interfering with their basic metabolic processes,
similar to their mode of action in controlling cockroaches, ants, and
silverfish. Because the mode of action is fundamental, target organisms such
as termites, decay fungi, and carpenter ants cannot develop resistance.
What Happens Next?
Borate treatments offer the best of the past – having stood the test of time
in some of the world’s most challenging environments – and the greatest hope
for the future as an affordable treatment that is safe for people, pets and
the environment, but deadly for termites, rot and decay.
Christine Brewton is the Military/Multifamily liaison for U. S. Borax Inc.,
the world leader in borates.