Treated Wood Facts

Treated poles coming out of the cylinder and ready for distribution and installation. This photo is courtesy of: Mike Freeman

Want to know the secret for wood to last forever in an exterior application?   Many years ago, a colleague told me (tongue in cheek) that there are two ways to achieve this – (1) keep the wood dry and (2) don’t let the wood get wet.  However, since that is not possible in exterior applications, and only a small handful of wood species have natural decay resistance, we need to use preservative-treated wood in exterior applications. 

It is important to realize the treated wood is decay and insect resistant and not decay and insect proof.   By the way, the same can be said of fire retardant treated wood.  The key for longer lasting treated wood is inspection and remedial treatments.  This is true for the homeowner with treated decks or the utility company with treated poles.  The inspection will identify the problem in its early stages and the remedial treatment will introduce an on-site preservative to stop the problem.   The inspection must be performed by trained personnel to identify early stages of decay, if present, and then assess if the damage has compromised the structural integrity if advanced decay is present.  Remedial treatments are excellent means of extending the service life of industrial products such as poles, piles, and cross ties.    Homeowners can also use them for millwork, columns, decks, etc.  

A homeowner that is interested in remedial treatments should consider BoraCare (boron-based and very safe) or copper napthenate (very effective but has a strong odor).   Homeowners can also purchase Bor8 Rods and Cobra rods.    To use these products, you must first drill a hole in your wood, insert the rod, plug the hole.  Bor8 rods contain boron and Cobra rods contain boron and copper.  All of these products are non-restricted used pesticides available to the general public over the internet.   

Meet the Author

Dr. Todd Shupe is the President of Wood Science Consulting, LLC. He is a well-recognized expert on wood forensics, wood preservation, wood decay and degradation, and wood species identification. He has a broad background in new product development, quality management, and marketing and sales in both the public and private sectors. For more information please visit

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