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How Do I Choose the Best Pressure Treated Wood?

By Alex Newth
Updated May 17, 2024
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Pressure treated wood is wood that has been treated with chemicals to help it resist weather and insect damage, and there are many things to consider when trying to choose the best. Most pressure treated wood sellers offer warranties on the wood, and seeking out the best warranty may be a good place to start. Moisture can be a problem with this wood, thanks to the chemical treatment, and getting low-moisture wood generally is a good idea. This wood is split into above-ground and ground-contact categories, and you should choose the wood based on how you will use it. Some woods also have extra finishing materials that may be useful.

Many woods offer warranties, but pressure treated wood tends to have longer warranties than most other woods. While you may you be able to use the wood without it warping or being damaged, getting a good warranty should protect you from any damages or extra costs. You should check the warranty's coverage, such as rot and infection, and how long the warranty lasts. You also should look for a warranty that covers termites, because some treated woods do not resist termites, though they are resistant to other insects.

Pressure treated wood is injected with chemicals, so it typically has more moisture than other woods. This excess moisture can lead to warping, rotting and other problems over time, meaning the wood may not look good after a while or the project may come apart when the wood warps — such as with decks and furniture. This means it normally is best to get treated wood that has low moisture, such as wood that was dried before being treated.

The chemicals to which pressure treated wood is exposed can be harmful to both people and the environment, making it important to determine if the wood is suitable for above-ground usage or ground-contact usage. Above-ground contact means the wood will not touch or be in the ground, and humans will be exposed to it. Ground-contact wood can be installed underground and should not harm the environment.

Pressure treated wood sometimes comes with extra finishing materials that can make it better for certain uses. You can find wood that has a termite-resistant finish, coatings that make this wood better for staining and painting, and coatings that make this wood safer for human contact, among others. Such added coatings may cost more initially, but they also can make the wood more effective for your needs in the long run.

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Discussion Comments
By Raynbow — On Jul 06, 2014

Choosing the best pressure treated wood can be confusing, because the best one for you will depend on the project you are trying to complete. For the best results, ask for assistance at the home improvement or lumber yard where you plan to purchase your wood.

By Ocelot60 — On Jul 05, 2014

If you have kids or pets, you should also be careful about the chemicals that are on the pressure treated wood you buy. Kids and animals are always eating something off of floors, so this could be a concern. Your best option may be to use an organic wood, if available in your area.

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