Pressure-treated wood is wood that’s been treated with preservatives. This protects wood from insects and decay and is ideal for projects where wood is exposed to the elements or excessive moisture.
Wood preservatives are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency for their safe use. Pressure-treated softwood lumber includes southern pine, ponderosa pine, Douglas fir and hem-fir. Typical residential applications include:
- Retaining walls
- Landscaping structures
- Permanent wood foundations
- Docks and piers
Plus, treated wood is used for any kind of general construction where lumber is exposed to the elements. Pressure-treated wood is labeled for above ground or ground contact. When you purchase pressure-treated lumber, be sure to let the salesperson know your intended use so they can recommend the best product for your project. Common sense safety practices apply when working with any building material. When working with treated wood, it’s important to wear a dust mask, eye protection and gloves. Dispose of treated wood scraps using normal trash collection methods; do not burn treated wood.
Pressure Treated Wood Decking vs. Composites
There are numerous life cycle assessments and studies on the environmental impacts associated with the national production, use, and disposal of treated lumber decking, especially when compared with non-lumber alternatives. The results for treated wood decking are significant:
- Less Energy and Resource Use: Treated wood decking requires less total energy, less fossil fuel and less water to produce than composite decking.
- Lower Environmental Impacts: Treated wood decking has lower environmental impacts in comparison to composite decking when all five of the impact indicator categories are considered.
- Less Fossil Fuel Use: The fossil fuel footprint of a treated wood deck is equivalent to driving a car 38 miles/year. In comparison, the fossil fuel footprint of a plastic composite deck is equivalent to driving a car 540 miles/year.
Southeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association
USDA Forest Products Laboratory
Building Tips for Pressure-Treated Wood Video Series