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Chapter 9

Durability and treatment

Timber has a multitude of widely differing uses, each representing
particular service conditions and expectations of longevity. New
Zealand does not have a range of species that will meet all end
use needs with naturally durable timber. Historically the choice of
species was not particularly wide and the range of naturally durable
indigenous species is now very small. Internationally, availability
of naturally durable to highly durable timbers is poor and is usually
associated with tropical areas.
Timber does not deteriorate through age alone, although some
changes may take place during the life of timber members in a
structure. In service, the timber components of a structure will
be exposed to a variety of forces and hazards which may operate
continuously or intermittently, consecutively or concurrently, and
which may change in nature or intensity during the lifespan of the
structure. By classifying these hazards and defining the parameter
which describe their effects, it is possible to estimate the useful life of
treated or untreated timber in a new structure. In older structures, this
knowledge is essential for assessing the costs and consequences of
taking no action, instituting remedial treatments with minor repairs or
undertaking a major reconstruction.
Wood preservation extends the useful life of timber by modifying
its resistance to detrimental agents. Effective and economic wood
preservation relies on a thorough knowledge of the properties and
availability of appropriate timber species, an appreciation of the inservice hazards and the means of reducing their severity, as well a
the properties of wood - preserving chemicals and their application.
Fortunately, in New Zealand , the principal construction timber,
radiata pine, is very easy to treat with preservatives and can be made
very durable.
This chapter guides designers towards specifying timber to match the
desired lifespan of the product or building element.

Timber treatment and its application for building purposes is a
regulated activity in New Zealand. While designers and specifiers
are free to call up preservatives and levels of preservative retained in
wood , these are specified for Building Code acceptability in various
documents and departure from them in "alternative solutions" bring
a need to demonstrate performance. These documents are outlined
later in this chapter.


Assessment of compliance with treated timber manufacturing

standards is a key feature of regulation of this industry and, while
it is not compulsory for producers to have independent oversight of
their product, it is normal practice and independent quality assurance
systems are established. The standard for wood preservation and its
auditing by Quality Assurance systems is intended to apply not only at
the plant gates but also at the time of delivery to building sites.

The New Zealand Timber Preservation Council and the

The New Zea land Timber Preservation Council (TPC) is a quality
assurance agency established by the timber industry to estab lish and
maintain the standards for quality of treated timber. The Council
has registered the WOODmark as a mark of quality indicating
compliance with treatment specifications with its use being limited
to treatment plants holding a licence, which requires the ability to
perform and maintain records of compliance and regularly testing by
independent laboratories.

these codes have existed much longer than

the Building Act, so are called up with or
without modifications.
The Acceptable Solution is a "cookbook" of
prescriptive measures which are a "deemed
to satisfy" solution to the requirements of the
Bui lding Code.
For specia l designs which do not fit the
above two options, the Building Act allows
an Alternative Solution to be offered. This
solution may be accepted by the Territorial
Aut~ority (TA) if they are persuaded on
"reasonable grounds" that the solution meets
the requirements of the Building Code.

Agriquality operates as an alternative quality assurance scheme for
timber treatment using its own laboratories for testing and assessment.
Certified plants are licensed to use the Agriquality registered
assurance mark.

New Zealand Building Code

What is durability?
The word durable is defined in New Zealand Building Code
Handbook, section B2NM I, AS I as resistant to wear and decay.
either durable nor durability are defined in Clause E2, where they
are used as an adjective or a noun with connotations of lastingness,
longevity, or persistence of time.

New Zealand Building Code

Durability is covered in the New Zealand Building Code (NZBC) in
Section 82 - Durability, and Section E2 - External Moisture. The
durability clause requires that materials, components and construction
methods allow the building to function for its specified intended life
of not less than 50 years for structural and inaccessible elements.
Accessible elements where failure can be detected such as exposed
cladding, plumbing in a crawl space, interior linings and coatings may
have a shorter specified life of 15 or 5 years.
The NZBC Approved Documents are guidance documents under the
Building Act 2004 giving means of compliance with the performance
criteria of the Building Code. In accordance with the Building Act,
the Building Code requirements can be achieved in any one of three
different ways :
I . Verification Method
2. Acceptable Solution
3. Alternative Solution
A Verification Method is an approved calculation method, generally
consisting of well established codes of practice for design . Many of


Timber retaining wall requires a high level of

preservative treatment.

Clause 82 Durability
In the New Zealand Building Code, Clause
B2 Durability sets down as its objective that
"a bui lding wi ll throughout its life
continue to satisfy the objectives of the
Code, and that building elements, with
only nonnal maintenance, will continue
to satisfy the performance requirements
of the Code for the specified intended life
of the building."
The standard times used for element life are
50 years, 15 years and 5 years. According to
Verification Method B2NMI durability may
be verified by proof of performance, using
in-service history,
Laboratory testing, or
Comparable performance of similar
building elements
Such factors as the local environment,
intensity of use, material composition, the
degradation mechanism are evaluated for an
element within a specified system inc luding
fixings, flashings etc.

Acceptable Solution
Arising from Clause B2 the NZBC has as an
Acceptable Solution B2/ AS I for durability
and performance requirements of timber
building elements. In the Acceptable Solution,
ew Zealand standards are approved for a
variety of construction materials. For timber
the main standards are NZS 3604:1999
Timber Framed Buildings, and NZS
3602:2003 Timber and Wood-based Products
for use in Building. NZS 3602 includes
the required level of chemical treatment
for different levels of hazard, and is also is
referenced for E2 External Moisture.

for levels of treatment (i.e. hazard levels) to NZS3640 or AS/

NZS 1604(3) (plywood only)
NZS3640:2003 Chemical Preservation of Round and Sawn
Timber is a secondary reference standard in that it is not referenced
in B2 Durability but is referenced in NZS3602. It was written at
the same time as, and in association with NZS3602, to set out
requirements for the preservative treatment of timber to provide
protection from insect attack and fungal decay and marine borer
attack. The standard is a process standard intended both for use by
treatn1ent plants, and to apply at the plant gate.
AS/NZS1604.3:2004 Specification fo r Preser vative Treatment
- Plywood is a secondaty reference standard as is NZS3640 and
applies to plywood. lt has marginal differences from NZS3640 in
that the HI and H3 hazard classes have not been subdivided. There is
therefore no H3.1 and H3 .2 plywood, it uses H3 only.

Alternative solutions

Treated wood being removed from pressure

cylinder on the left, with previously treated
wood on the right.

NZ3602:2003 Timber an d Wood-based

Products for Use in Buildi ng is a primmy
reference standard (an Australian term) in
ZBC Clause B2. This standard (and specific
amendments to it) are listed in Clause B2 and
are recognised as an Acceptable Solution by
build ing consent authorities and designers.
The 2003 revision to NZS3602 was driven
by concerns about the frequency of leaking
buil dings in New Zealand and was written in
haste to address these. In particular the intent
was to enhance the robustness of framing
timbers where proven deficiencies in design
and materia l perforn1ance were resulting in
moisture penetration and decay. This standard
gives the requirements for timber so that
building elements can be expected to give
acceptable performance during the life of the
building. It covers not only the individual
building elements but also aspects of design
and construction, and it references another
Approved Document, E2 External Moisture.
ZS 3602 gives requirements for timber:

for particular uses

for particular species or type
for particular grades
for particular in-service moisture

The Acceptable Solution B2/ AS I was not intended to exclude

other solutions which can be offered as alternative solutions.
There is such a solution for applications and uses relating to H 1.2
components that was appraised and Codemark accred ited by the
former Building Industry Authority. This accreditation was reviewed
by the Department of Building and Housing and was not withdrawn.
It was the subject of a sustained attack in the media and died as a
commercial product, although all the test data showed its efficacy
to be proven and there was no evidence of non-performance. As
an outcome it is unlikely that there will be alternative solutions
around timber treatment in the foreseeable future. Acceptance~of an
alternative solution is usually supported by expert opinion such as
from Scion and BRANZ.

Recent history
Following the introduction of perfonnance based regulation in the
early I 990s, poor practice crept in due to concurrent deregulation of
the building industry and introduction of the non-prescriptive code
with poor detailing and poor construction , mostly with mono lithic
sheet claddings. By 1999 there were serious calls for improved
practice. Water penetrated the cladding of balcony structures and
poorly sealed building envelopes of a large number of residential
units, and without adequate wall ventilation this caused decay of the
framing and serious structural risk.
In 1995 an amendment was made to the New Zealand Standard for
timber treatment (referenced in Acceptable Solution B2/ AS I in 1998)
allowing untreated kiln-dried timber in dry conditions. For buildings
with poor weathertightness, this resulted in severe and rapid timber
decay of timber framing where water was trapped against the timber
in a relatively warm environment. Within two years a number of
significant durability failures resulted in a public outcry and repair
estimates of between NZ$120M to NZ$ I .8Billion. While this was
quickly dubbed " leaky buildings" in the news media it was often
incorrectly attributed to the use of untreated radiata pine timber
framing timber.
This problem led to a legal procedure for resolving disputes
(Weathertight Homes Resolution Services Act 2002), changes to the
Building Act in 2004, a major change to the government regulating


bodies and a requirement for all carpenters to be certified. Territorial authorities went through a period of adjustment when
the performance based approach was introduced in 1991 and again in 2004 following the leaky buildings problem, so that
they now have greater levels of responsibility and work more closely with the Department of Building and Housing. A new
conservatism in detailing for weathertightness has become the norm for exterior claddings, with a requirement for chemical
treatment of almost all radiata pine framing timber. [t is interesting to note that The Compliance Document for the New
Zealand Building Code- Clause 2 - External Moisture (a prescriptive solution for exterior detailing) was expanded from
28 pages in 2000 to 184 pages in 2005.

Hazard classes and preservative options

The design of timber buildings must aim at preventing deterioration of timber by providing adequate protection or by using
durable materials. Australia and New Zealand have adopted simi lar hazard classification systems. In New Zealand, various
end uses have been classified into eight classes with two subclasses. These are shown in Table 9.1. The hazard classe
are linked to treatment specifications which enable timber members to perform satisfactorily for their expected life, as
specified in NZS3640:2003. The hazard classes are generally common with Austral ia except that Australia does not have a
split in the HI and H3 classes which were introduced in NZ in 2003. There is no equivalent to the H 1.2 class in Australia.
The hazard classes are described in terms of service exposure and biological hazard . A larger list together with preservati ve
options in each class and a brief mention of environmental and on-site issues is given in Table 9.2.

Table 9.1

Hazard classes in New Zealand and Australia

Hazard class

Biological hazard

Service cond itions

Typical uses



Dry conditions, not exposed to weather or

ground atmosphere.

Roof, wall and floor framing , flooring ,

interior timber, wall frames clad with
masonry veneer. Refer to NZS3602


Dry conditions. Not exposed to weather.

Not in contact with the ground.

Roof wall and floor framing, sub floor

framing , where dry use timber is
installed wet, or dry rough sawn for
interior dry use.

(Was the H1
class before the
2003 revision)

H1 .2

Borers, and short term

decay fungi in a leaking wall

Protected from the weather but with a risk

of moisture content conductive to decay
as a result of moisture penetration of the
building envelope.

Wall and roof framing in situations

complying with NZBC E2/AS1 .

Not in ground contact

(Only Australia,
not NZ.)

Termites and other borers

Not exposed to weather, exposed to

ground atmosphere in dry conditions.

Framing timber in Australia.

H3 .1

Decay fungi and borers

Periodic wetting in water shedding

situations, such as exterior wall framing at
risk to leaking cladding (greater than H1.2).
Not in contact with the ground.

Painted cladding & trim , framing

for exterior walls at serious risk
of moisture penetration. Refer to


Decay fungi and borers

Periodic wetting in situations not shedding

water. Not in contact with the ground.

Cladding and trim (painted or

unpainted), exterior structural and
decking and exposed timber uses in
farming and horticulture.


Decay fungi and borers

In water or in the ground , permanently wet.

Posts, fencing , bridge decks,

landscaping .


Decay fungi and borers

In water or in the ground , permanently wet,

and where 50 year durability is expected
for building purposes.

Piles, poles , foundations , retaining

walls, line poles


Decay fungi and marine


In estuarine ground or immersed in


Marine timber & piles


selection and specification of

treatment levels

treatment in the case of Douglas fir and radiata pine, provided that
storage is not in damp conditions or on the ground.

Guidance on specifying timber for particular

hazards or uses is given in NZS: 3602:2003
and in NZTPC literature. For residential
and other timber framed construction, NZS:
3604:1 999 is an Acceptable Solution for the
z Building Code approved Document B I
tructure, permitting the use of timber or
wood-based products specified or protected
in accordance with NZS 3602. There are
many situations outside the scope ofNZS
3604, where specific design on the basis
ofNZS3603: 1993 generally is applicable,
including specifically designed buildings,
civil engineering construction, and temporary

Hl. l is an insect resistant hazard class only. lt was widely used in

the period 1990 - 2003 under the descriptor HI and was discontinued
from application in external wall framing as awareness grew of
the increased frequency of leaking buildings. 1t is probably not
commercially available at the time of writing.
H l.2 is a recently created hazard class introduced as a result of
concerns about the durability of external wall framing where it had
become apparent that limitations of design, material performance
or workmanship have created a risk of moisture penetration and
retention conducive to decay. The expectation is that the resistance to
decay will enable the moisture penetration issue to be remedied and a
durability performance period is not specified although some writers
have associated a two year period with it.

The following commentary on the use of

hazard ratings is a guide to designers and

Untreated or Hl.l or H1.2?

A choice between untreated timber or HI
treated timber will depend on the expected
use. Dry, interior structural components for
buildings are not subject to decay, and are
rarely if ever subject to insect attack and
damage in New Zealand. Exceptions to this
might be when the timber is:
Adjacent to damp unventilated ground or
Used in association with heavily infested
older native timber or
Exposed to unexpected wetting
Resistance to insect attack can be provided by
any one of the following:
Using naturally resistant timbers e.g. kiln
dried untreated radiate pine or Douglas fir
in interior dry situations, or
Using heart timber of certain indigenous
species (traditiona l use), or
Using H 1.1 or H 1.2 treated timber or
Applying a surface coating of insecticide,
particularly appropriate for large glue
laminated members.
Plywood and particle board are considered to
be naturally resistant in interior dry situation~.
With outdoor timbers and temporary works
untreated radiata pine timber may be
acceptable for short life applications- say up
to two years (out of ground contact). In the
case of timber for temporary work that is to be
reused, e.g., scaffold planks and comparable
components, the service conditions are not
usually considered a hazard risk requiring

A very high level of treatment is needed for timber members in

contact with sea water.

The introduction of risk matrix computations with claddings and

building envelopes and the emphasis on Acceptable solutions (refer
Approved Document E2 External Moisture and E2/ AS I) has taken
away options around timber treatment and effectively made the use
of H 1.2 mandatory in many external wall framing designs. However
note the following:
Masonry veneer external cladding has a good track record such
that it can generally be used in association with untreated timber
Internal wall and floor framing and unlined buildings can be
framed in untreated timber.
Roof trusses and roof and ceiling framing (except skillion and flat
deck roofs) can be untreated timber.
The requirement in NZS:3602 for H 1.2 and H3 . l .in association with
various cladding and design situations has led a number of truss and
frame suppliers to avoid holding stock of H 1.2 and to supply H3.1
wherever treated framing is required.


Table 9.2 Hazard classes and preservative options


Preservative options
and colour coding
(Notes 1 & 2)


Health and
safety issues


Site issues
Develops sap stain and
mould when wetted and
staying wet.
Cost effective in dry

Note 4



a) Boron compounds in
water, supplied wet.


Boron getting
to waterways at
treating sites.

Use has almost ceased

(Was H1 pre
the 2003

b) Permethrin in solvent,
supplied dry


VOC release at

Nil decay resistance

a) Boron compoundsaqueous (pink), supplied

wet or dry after treating.


Boron getting
to waterways at
treating sites.

Wet timber shrinking on

drying .

H1 .2
(Note 3)

b) Boron compounds
with diffusion agent,
aqueous(pink), treated &
supplied dry

c)TBTN or TBTO in
solvent (white spirit),
(blue), supplied dry

d) IPBC & Permethrin

in solvent (white spirit),
(blue), supplied dry


Refer AS 1604:2005

(Australia not
NZ) . .


Tin contact

Solvent allergy


Tin as a

Odour, solvent allergy, tin

Use with adhesives.

VOC release at

Residue disposal.

VOC release at


Association with leaky

buildings .

Little decay
resistance .
Used in the leaky
building period.
Association with leaky
buildings .
No decay resistance .

Moisture content
measurement a problem
with resistance meters
if glycol as the diffusion



Dry framing availability

limited .
Shrinkage issues.
measurement. Rapid
uptake of moisture if
diffusion agents are

No satisfactory site test.

Lack of reliable spot

test. Moisture meter
unreliability. OSH
concerns re solvent
exposure & tin safety.

Odour, solvent allergy.


No site test for


OSH concerns re

NB: Additives to solvents

modifying (c) and (d) to
reduce odour are possible
but may effect efficacy.

Identification of treated
wood difficult.



IPBC performance.

Permethrin (&variations)

See also
listed for
H.3.2 (wet
or dry after

a) Boron compounds with

diffusion agent, aqueous,
supplied as dry & paint
primed cladding and trim

Cut ends to be primed ,

product needs to be


Odour, Solvent and tin

b) TBTN or TBTO in
solvent (white spirit),
green colour, supplied

Solvent allergy

Tin as pollutant.

Residue disposal.

Tin contact

VOC release at

Reliability of spot tests &

mic measurement.

Note 4

Compatibility with
c) Propiconazole plus
tebuconazole in solvent
(white spirit)(plywood ,
speciality products)
supplied dry
d) Copper Napthenate
(green) in solvent (white
spirit), dry cladding and
exterior trim


Odour, solvent allergy

Solvent allergy

Note 4

VOC release at
Copper as
VOC release at

Not used structurally in NZ

No site test for presence
Colour, odour, solvent
allergy. Corrosive, staining
of paint.
Comoatibilitv with a lues.

Odour, lack of spot

test (needs lab test).
OSH tin & solvent
safety concerns.
mic measurement

Cost, not easily

verified for presence
or retention of
Colour, odour, gluing
Bleed through of

Note --CCA.
can be dried
after to order.

a) CCA in water, supplied


Notes 4 & 5




Copper loss
compared to
other Cu based

Residue disposal ,

Fear of As component
in personal contact
Cost vs. CCA.

b) ACQ in water, supplied


Notes 4 & 5


Residue disposal ,

c) Copper Azole in water,

supplied wet

Notes 4 & 5


Residue disposal,

Copper as

Odour, solvent allergy,

colour, corrosive, staining
of paint

Odour and colour

N/Ain NZ


N/Ain NZ

d) Copper Naphenate in
solvent, supplied dry
(Note 6)

Only if eaten

ACQ or Copper Azo/e on

a dry to dry basis

Solvent allergy
Notes 4 & 5

Cost vs. CCA.

High loading of
Bleed through paint

N/Ain NZ
Depends on

a) CCA in water, supplied


Notes 4 & 5

Slight copper
loss in water.

Residue disposal,

b)ACQ in water, supplied




Restdue disposal ,

c) Copper azole in water,

supplied wet

Note 4


Residue disposal,

Slight copper
loss in water.

Residue disposal ,

a) CCA in water, supplied


High loading of

Notes 4 & 5

Cost and efficacy vs

CCA. High Cu loading .
Cost and efficacy vs
CCA. High Cu loading .

b) ACQ in water, supplied


Notes 4 & 5

Copper as

Residue disposal,

Cost and efficacy vs

CCA. High Cu loading.

c) Copper azole in water,

supplied wet

Notes 4 & 5

Copper as

Residue disposal,

Cost and efficacy vs

CCA. High Cu loading.

Slight copper
loss in water.

Residue disposal,

CCA in water, supplied



N ot~s 4 &. S

1) This column lists preservatives in general use at the time of writing and covered by NZS3640, the liquid carrier, plus whether supplied
wet or dry. Some development possibilities are in italics.
2) Colour codings are for framing for timber framed buildings as specified in NZS3604. For H1 .2 pink or red are optional.
3) The boron based surface applied system that was accredited by BIA (and later endorsed by DBH) as an accredited alternative for
H1 .2 with an orange colour code is excluded from this table.
4) All fine wood dust is a hazardous component and wood processing should involve protection to eyes, respiratory systems and skin .
5) The need for protection as indicated in Note 4 is emphasised with reference to hazard classes H3.2, 4, 5, 6 where there are additional
carcinogenic aspects associated with metallic components.
6) Potentially (as a future development) a dry H3 .2 could become available on the basis of wood being taken from dry stock and treated
through a non-aqueous process with either ACQ or CuAz.
Glossary: ACQ =Alkaline Copper Quarternary, CCA = Copper Chromium Arsenic, CuAZ Copper Azole, TBTN = Tri-butyltin Napthenate,
TBTO= Tri-butyltin Oxide, VOC =Volatile Organic Compound, DBH = Department of Building and Housing, OSH = Occupational Health
and Safety.

H1.2 or H3.1 ? -framing

At the time of writing the logic around the
pecification of treatment and reasons for
having either H 1.2 or H3.1 is hard to identify.
It is simplest to say an exterior exposure
classification was applied to a situation
where a decay resistance rating should have
been used. At the time when NZS3602 and
3640 were written in 2003 , relative decay
resistance ratings as shown in Table 9.5 were
not known. The assumption was that H3.1

would have to be a significant step up from H 1.2. In particular with

boron preservatives this is not the case and the same factor of safety
against fungal decay is present with H 1.2 (boron) and H3 . 1.
The current advice is that Table I D in NZS3602:2003 is the
Acceptable Solution and those arbitrary treatment levels apply.

H3.1 or H3.2 ? -exterior exposure

The reason for dividing H3 into two subclasses arose from the
different performance of the CCA and the tin based preservatives.
As result the H3.1 hazard class is restricted to exterior situations that
shed water - typically claddings, fascia, trim etc and H3 .2 applies to


situations where a more robust level of decay resistance is expected

- e.g. decking and exterior structural uses (but not ground contact).

H3.2 or H4?
A choice between H3 and H4 hazard ratings internally can sometimes
be difficult. For timber in contact with the ground, H4 is the
minimum rating. For timber out of ground contact, H4 treatment
should be used for very wet situations, particularly for important
structural components. In industrial plants where high humidity and
temperatures are expected, the moisture content of the timber will be
such that H3.2 preservation leve ls should be used. Only in the most
exceptional conditions, which will be wet as a result of condensation ,
rather than high EMC as a result of humidity, will H4 be required.

H4 or HS?
Both of these hazards are described "for ground contact" . Both can
app ly to round and to sawn timber. The key question for building
purposes is "how critical is the component?" ln the case of agriculture
or horticulture the question is linked to severity of attack and ease of
replacement. These are discussed separately.
Timber in the grou nd supporting buildings can be very difficult to
replace. Proprietary branded timber building piles (whether round or
square) wi ll be treated to H5 requirements for NZBC comp li ance.
Where non-specifically identified timbers are used as building
foundations they should be specified and ordered with H5 treatment.
In the case ofroundwood this is particularly important because both
treatment levels are in regular use. For short life structures, hoarding ~,
fences, walls etc. , the same considerations are not applicable and H4
treatment will be satisfactory. Poles are typically supplied with H5
treatment but they should be specified as such.
Fence and horticultural support (round or square) posts are almost
always H4 treated. Strainer posts can be H4 or H5 depending on the
producer. In the case of tension structures in vineyards or orchards,
where progressive collapse would be unacceptable H5 anchor posts
are recommended.

This is the highest level of preservative loading to resist what can
be severe attack initiated in short time intervals. The lifespan of
H6 treated timber in marine environments can vary considerab ly
depending on the nature of the marine borers present and there
frequency. The presence or absence of si lts, discoloration or pollutants
will not give any indication of likely severity of attack.

Building sites should always be graded

to provide positive drainage away from
foundation walls.
All exposed wood surfaces should be
pitched to assure rapid runoff of water.
Construction details that trap moisture
in end grain must be avoided . The
prevention of decay in walls and roofs
relies largely on designs that prevent the
entrance and retention of rain water. A
wide roof overhang with well designed
gutters and downpipes is desirable.
Wood in contact with concrete near the
ground should be protected by a moistureproof membrane such as heavy asphalt
paper, and preservative treatment i
advisable even if a membrane is present.
Openings in masonry walls for support
of timber girders and joists should be
big enough for air space around the sides
and ends of the wood members, and,
moisture-proofing of the outer face of the
wall is essential if the members are below
the outside soil level.
Adequate separation of wood from known
sources of moisture (including soil and
concrete) is always necessary to prevent
absorption of moisture and to allow
periodic inspection . When it is impossible
to provide adequate separation, the
wood must be correctly treated with a
preservative or a naturally durable speci es
be used.
Unventilated, inaccessible spaces under
buildings should be avoided , because
wetting of untreated wood or H I .I
treated wood by condensation may resu lt
in serious decay damage . A ventilated
crawl space with at least a 450 mm
clearance should be left under all wood
joists and girders . Condensation can
be reduced by providing openings on
opposite sides of the foundation walls for
cross ventilation or by laying a plastic
membrane on the soil , or both.

Design and detailing

Timber building design, both in its concept and detail should aim to :
Protect untreated timber from direct sun and rain.
Avoid details that trap moisture
Avoid condensation points for moisture by insulating or isolating
timber from sources of moisture
Provide mechanical barriers to water or to termites (if this hazard
In realizing these aims, detailed design considerations for untreated
timber should involve the following:


Exceptional circumstances
Porches, decks, fences , patios, pergolas
and other weather-exposed items present a
decay hazard that cannot be fully avoided
by construction practices. It is advisable to
use preservative-treated wood or naturally
durable wood for all exterior situations.
Where highly humid conditions are present
inside buildings, as in textile mills, pulp
and paper mills, cold-storage plants and

swimming pools, preservative treated timber

hould be used.

To supplement good design and construction
practices, periodic inspections of a structure
will provide assurance that decay-preventive
measures are being maintained and that
additional decay hazards are not present.
It should be emphasized that damage from
decay sometimes develops slowly. Periodic
inspections are important, therefore, to reveal
early indications of moisture penetration or
condensation, and once they are detected,
corrective measures can be taken in time to
avoid significant damage. Decay and insect
attack create irreversible damage. Prevention
is much easier than repair.

Leaky bu ildings
The 1990s saw the construction of significant
numbers of buildings that admitted moisture,
resulti ng in severe decay to parts of the
building framing. This was particularly
true in multi-residential developments but
not confined to these. The leakiness was a
particu lar problem in some buildings with
monol ithic claddings (insulated stucco
construction) but not confined to these. An
outcome has been a major overhaul of the
building controls system in New Zealand
tarting with the 2004 revision of the Building
Act, the abolition of the Building Industry
Authority, and the resumption of direct
government intervention through the new
Department of Building and Housing. Some
tandards, codes of practice, and acceptable
solutions were rewritten in haste, which
resulted in some errors which are currently
being revisited and amended. This will be an
ongoing process.

Agents causing
Timber durability is largely a matter of
design. Permanent timber structures should be
built not only to be structurally safe but also
to be durable, with minimum maintenance.
In common with other structural materials,
uch as steel, concrete, glass or plastic, timber
will deteriorate if subjected to destructive
agencies. An understanding of the variou
destructive agencies is helpful when devising
efficient means of delaying or avoiding
natural deterioration. Fire is a special case
which is dealt with in Chapter 12.

The behaviour of timber in service is affected by both environmental

and biological factors. Usually, outdoor exposure gives the worst
conditions because climatic variations are widest and of greatest
impact, but severe conditions may also occur indoors due to
hazardous artificial environments or poor construction details .
A noteworthy example of indoor decay during the 1990s in New
Zealand was external wall envelopes without drainage which, when
water got in , resulted in a significant decay hazard situation where
H l . l (or the old HI) treatment was ineffective.
Considerable variations in climate make some factors insignificant
and others important, such as temperature and humidity. The
longevity of timber in service will be directly related to the balance
between destructive agencies and the resistance of the timber. This
ection describes the agents that cause deterioration in timber and the
most cost effective means of combating them.
The main agents causing deterioration are:

Insects and marine borers

Moisture fluctuations
Ultraviolet light
Mechanical abrasion

Insects and marine borers

Insects are among the most successful life-forms on earth, so there
is considerable literature about them. In their life-cycle, all insects
undergo a complete metamorphosis of four stages:
I . egg- laid by the fertilised adult, sometimes singly, sometimes in
large numbers;
2.larva or grub- for most wood-boring species this is the feeding
stage causing damage in the form of tunnels or galleries in the
3. pupal stage- which is non-feeding and essentially non-mobile.
The pupa is encased in an impermeable membrane so may
occasionally survive vacuum-pressure impregnation in waterbome
preservative solutions;
4. imago or adult which emerges from the pupa and is highly mobile,
being able to fly to seek fresh feeding sites.
The primary concern in New Zealand is with Anobium and Lyctus
wood-boring insects, or " borer". There are a few species of native
termites but these are confined to forested areas and are extremely
slow acting, compared to the voracious varieties that have flourished
occasionally (and briefly) after importation of infected timber.
The heartwood of most species is naturally resistant to Lyctus and
Anobium which establish most readily on rough sawn surfaces of
green sapwood. They prefer the timber at a moisture content between
18 and 25%. High temperature kiln drying, planking, painting and
chemical treatment all reduce the likelihood of attack by borer.
Radiata pine that is kiln dried and used dry is virtually never attacked
by borer in either sapwood or heartwood. Douglas fir and macrocarpa
heartwood is generally resistant to borer. Air-dried sapwood of rimu
and some other native species is often attacked.


Marine borers, either of the molluscan (e.g. Teredo) or crustacean

(e.g. Limnoria) type, attack susceptible timber rapidly and are the
principal cause of damage to wood immersed in sea water. Because
the borers ingest the wood fibre, treatment with preservatives is
effective provided that the timber can be treated with sufficiently
heavy loadings of the chemicals and the chemicals do not leach
out. Pill bugs (Sphaeroma) may burrow into the timber surface and
preservative treatment is not effective against them because they do
not ingest the wood fibre. Mechanical barriers are necessary where
these are a problem as they have been in the Tauranga harbour.

Fungi are a class of plant-life characterised by an inability to
synthesise starches and sugars from inorganic materials (air and
water) in the presence of light. Hence, fungi require an organic
ubstrate in order to thrive. Timber is a suitable substrate of certain
fungi. Decay or rot in wood is a result of fungal attack.
For practically all timber species, the sapwood is susceptible to fungal
decay and may be seriously affected within a comparatively short
period of exposure under conducive conditions. Hence untreated
sapwood should always be regarded as perishable. Heartwood is
usually much more resistant to decay than sapwood , because of
the presence of toxic extractives and other factors , but heartwood
durability is very variable between species.
Fungal growths will not develop unless there is a source of infection
from which the organisms can grow. Fungi procreate by producing
vast numbers of microscopic spores which may float in the air for
long periods and be blown for considerable distances, so all timber
in service will be exposed to fungal spores from some source. Even
though abundant, they will not germinate and develop unless there is:- An adequate supply of air or oxygen
-A suitable range of temperatures (about 4-400C), and
-A continuing supply of moisture (>20% moisture content)
In practice, the only circumstance where lack of oxygen is likely to
inhibit fungal growth is when timber is fully submerged in water. For
example, in Europe, many major structures are founded on timber
piles driven below the ground water table where they have resisted
decay for centuries due to lack of oxygen. Conversely, the timber in
modern cooling towers is exposed to a high decay hazard because the
water passing over it is highly aerated . Normal ambient temperatures
seldom limit fungal development, but all fungi have an optimum
temperature at which the fastest growth occurs; above or below
this optimum their rate of growth declines. In cool climates, fungal
pores may take several days to germinate, but in humid tropical
climates germination will be much quicker. Provided that the change
in temperature is not too rapid , fungi are usually more tolerant of low
temperatures than of high ones. All stages of fungal growth can be
killed by prolonged exposure to high temperatures.
Timber that is dry and can be kept dry will not rot or decay. For
architects and structural engineers, this is the key to the prevention of
decay in timber. If untreated timber becomes damp and is allowed to
remain damp it is likely to decay. Once wood has started to rot, the
decayed wood will absorb water more quickly, hold more water and
retain it longer than undecayed wood . As the cycle of wetting and
drying is repeated, the damp period will extend until it is continuous.


Moisture fluctuations
Unprotected timber exposed to the weather
typically develops surface checks due to
rapid wetting and drying by rain and sun.
Where dimensional changes due to moisture
content fluctuations are expected , appropriate
allowances should be made for the anticipated
movement. Timbers with a large width or
depth are more likely to be affected than
timbers of smaller section. Splitting often
occurs if shrinkage is prevented, as described
in Chapter I 0. Paint systems are designed
to prevent rapid wetting and drying, and
oily preservatives such as creosote are also
effective. The use of dark pigmented stains
can increase the problem because the dark
surface heats quickly on exposure to the sun.
Moisture related cracks are commonly
observed in poles, installed in the wet
condition and drying out in service. It is
almost impossible to prevent cracking in
exposed poles or large sawn timber member
containing the pith of the tree because of
the difference between radial and tangential
shrinkage described in Chapter I 0. Surface
coatings which inhibit drying will reduce
cracking because shrinkage stresses have
time to relax, as seen with some coated pole
in pole frame houses. Another approach is to
kerfthe poles, before treatment, with a radia l
saw cut up to half the diameter deep along
the length of the pole, which predetermines
the position of any split and improves the
penetration of preservatives.

Ultraviolet light
UV light oxidises the surface of wood,
changing its colour to the soft grey often
seen on buildings sheathed with natural
unprotected wood such as cedar shingles or
planks. The silvering discolouration is due
to the effect of ultraviolet light on the lign in
and extractives in the wood . This oxidation,
combined with the effect of rain on the
surface, produces a perceptible erosion.
Canadian sources report a rate of erosion
of about I mm in 16 years (presumably on
western red cedar). The discolouration is of
no structural concern . Paints and stains can
prevent this damage, and advice on suitable
systems is given in Chapter 11.

Attack by bacteria is rare but has been
observed where timber is in contact with
heavily fertilised soils such as found in
some horticultural sites. Other instances

preservative. The natural durability of a timber species is usually

rated by the resistance of the mature heartwood to insect and fungal

are in sheepyard gratings and compost bins.

These bacteria appear to be highly tolerant
of the preservative loadings of the wood.
Their tunnelling and eroding activity causes
ome degree of mechanical weakening and
is believed to reduce the decay resistance of
preservative treated timbers.

Sapwood and heartwood

Sapwood is the outer zone of wood in a log, which conducts sap
in the li ving tree. Heartwood is the zone of older wood inside the
apwood, which has been slowly converted to heartwood in the
li ving tree by the deposition of toxic chemica ls and waste products.
These toxic chemicals deposited in the heartwood ce lls provide some
resistance to funga l and insect attack which varies between species
and within species, depending on density and rate of growth.

Iron oxides interact w ith wood causing a
breakdown known as "iron sickness" which
will accompany the corrosion of steel in
contact with timber. Wood is generally
resistant to most other chemicals, making it
a desirable structural material in corrosive

Resistance to decay
Testing of timber durability, including treated timber, is done by
embedding stakes in selected plots of ground (called graveyards)
and eva luating the progress of decay over many years. Table 9.3
lists the durability of the heartwood of some New Zea land-grown
timbers in ground contact. This is not a full list of commercially
available species, or complete for native species, and a more
comp lete list is given by Hughes (see Further Reading). Of those
classed as moderately durable, macrocarpa and some euca lypts are
commercially available in New Zea land. Hardwoods imported from
Australia and Asia may be obtained to meet requirements for high
natural durability.

Natural durability
Timbers vary enormously in their natural
resistance to insect or funga l attack. Some
peci es, like ironbark, teak and redwood
(Sequoia) are very resistant to both fungi and
insects, and are known as durable species.
Others such as radiata pine have very little
natural resista nce to fungal attack and are
regarded as being non-durable or even
perishable. Sapwood of most species has very
little natural resistance to fungal attack, so
all sapwood should be regarded as perishable
unless it is properly treated with a wood

Resistance to insect attack

Based on natural durability, the untreated heartwood of most species
is unlikely to be seriously attacked by insects, but sapwood is often

Table 9.3 Durability of untreated heartwood of New Zealand grown timbers.




Moderately durable


Very durable

(<5 years)

(5-1 0 years)

(10-15 years)

(15-20 years)

(>25 years)


E.regnans 5

E.globulus 5

E.muellerana 5

Black poplar hybrid



E.saligna 2

Kamah i'

Osier Willow'

Black beech 2 3

Hard beech 2

Silver birch


Silver beech 2

Cosican pine
Ponderosa pine


Mountain beech 2
Red beech 2

Softwood s

Southern rata
Radiata pine
Douglas fir

European larch 2

Macrocarpa 2

Silver pine

Californian redwood



Western red cedar

Lawson's cypress

1. Represented by posts only, durability of heartwood alone may be higher.
2. Species exhibiting a range of durability have been assigned to the class representing their average range .
3. Unusually variable (perishable- durable).
4. Robinia specimens have not been installed long enough for an accurate assessment of their durability, but they are at least in the
"Durable" class and more probably in the "very durable" class.
5. E. means Eucalyptus.


susceptible to some attack. The likelihood of attack decreases with

decreasing moisture content, with surface smoothness and with surface
coatings or paints. Table 9.4 lists the natural susceptibility of the
sapwood of the more common timber species, to four species of borer.

Table 9.4 Susceptibility to borers of untreated sapwood of some NZ

grown timbers.

Radiata pine
Douglas fir

Preservatives and carriers

Borer species
house borer)







1 =average susceptibility

=found in very dry localities

=particularly susceptible, but macrocarpa logs are nearly all heartwood,

Blanks indicate very low susceptibility

** Susceptibility of radiata pine to anobium is significantly reduced by

high temperature kiln drying.

Native species
Native species will be found in older buildings and in recycled
timber. As shown in Table 9.3 some are moderately durable to durable
including the heartwood ofkauri , matai and rimu and totara and these
will be found in exterior joinery sashes. Similarly kauri , matai and
rimu will be found in floor joists, subfloor and general framing . They
are not available commercially as new timber.

Pinus species
Pinus species are the most frequently grown plantation timber in
New Zealand and all have perishable sapwood. All the preservative
options listed in Table 9.2 can be used in conjunction with some of the
pinus species. Thus Corsican pine and Radiata pine can be converted
from perishable or non-durable to being very durable with chemica l
treatment, i.e. up to H5 and H6. Radiata pine is subject to insect attack
when damp or wet and also as growing trees in the forest. However
Radiata and other pinus species that are kiln dried and used dry are
virtually never attacked by borer (anobium) in either sapwood or
heartwood .

Imported species
Imported species will be found in older buildings and in recycled
timber. Some of this in older industrial buildings from Australian
hardwoods can be very durable but identification can be difficult.
Douglas fir from North America can be found in older commercial
or industrial buildings and houses and can be of high quality. Jn new
construction, imported timber includes:
Hardwood decking. It can be difficult to identify species and
durability. Some is in the durable class and some is not. Suppliers
should be required to identify the species and origin.


"Baltic Pine" (pinus sylvestris or spruce

from Northern Europe) is being imported.
The susceptibility of spruce to anobium
attack is not know, but is likely to be
a problem. Pinus sylvestris should be
considered similar to New Zealand grown
pious species.

Preservatives are chemicals that are toxic to

fungi or insects or both. They are not benign
to humans but the level of toxicity varies.
There was a tradition of categorising them
by the type of carrier or solvent. This seems
obsolete so here they are classified by the
main active element. They are grouped as

Boron compounds
Copper based systems
Tin based systems
Other metallic compounds
Non-metallic organics

The basis of timber treatment in New Zeal and

is NZS3640:2003 Chemical Preservation of
Round and Sawn Timbe1: Table 9.2 gives a
list of preservative options in each class, with
a brief mention of environmental and on-site

Boron compounds
Mixtures of borate or boric acid formulati ons
have a long history of use as wood
preservatives and are significant because of
their relative low cost and low level of human
toxicity. They are effective against both fu ngi
and insects. Their insecticidal property results
from the effect they have on the enzymes in
the gut of wood eating larvae. The borates
and boric acid are water soluble and do not
become fixed in the wood structure, so they
will leach out in the presence of free water. At
the retention levels now in place for Hl.2 they
are a robust preservative at constant elevated
moisture contents and temperatures.
Historically boron was associated with wet
framing. lt diffused readily into wet wood,
both radiata pine and Douglas fir. With the
demand changing to dry framing there are
now techniques for getting the H 1.2 retention
and penetration with dry wood. This is
facilitated by the addition of a diffusing agent
to an aqueous system . The resulting product
has a modest moisture content increase wh ich
can be tolerated through the framing process.
Typically the diffusing agents are inert to

other in-contact building elements (and to

insects and fungi)

copper based systems

CCA - (principally salts or oxides of
copper, chromium a nd arsen ic)
Copper chrom ium and arsenic in an aqueous
carrier are fixed insolubly in the wood and
are resistant to leaching in free or running
water. They are effective against a broad
range of fungi and insects. Using pressure,
high retentions of and penetration of CCA can
be achieved. CCA has now about 70 years of
field tests and is probably the best performer
of the ground contact products. In uses where
there are multiple small components, eg
crib walls, where a few component failures
can be tolerated, there are expectations of a
service life of I 00 years or longer, from H5
level treatment. The NZBC puts H5 treated
poles and piles in the 50 year durability
classifi cation. CCA is app roved for all hazard
classes, but is not usual be low H3. See The
CCA Debate below.
ACQ (Alkali ne Copper Qu aterna r y)
ACQ is approved for hazard classes H3 to
HS. This is a mixture of copper carbonate
(usually) and an organic compound
didecyldimethyl ammon ium chloride in
an alkaline aqueous solution. lt is high in
copper salts and has an elevated pH making
it corrosive. It has not the history of use of
CCA but indications are that it will not have
the longevity of that preservative. lt is an
option for uses where it is desired to not have
the arsenical component. It is treated in a
pressure cylinder using similar processes to
CCA. The fixity of the copper component is
less effective than for CCA and the copper
levels in exposed situations will decline with
leach ing.
Copper Azote (CuAz)
Copper Azo le is approved for hazard classes
H3 to H5. It is a mixture of amine copper
and an emu lsion oftebuconazole in aqueous
solution. It also has a higher loading of
copper than CCA but is not as alkaline as
ACQ. It is a second option to CCA where
a non-arsenical preservative is required.
Because the copper will leach it is unlikely
to have the longevity ofCCA. As an aqueous
solution it is treated in a pressure cy linder as
for CCA. The fixity of copper is also less than

Copper Napthenate (Cu N)

Copper Napthenate is approved for H 1.2 and H3.1 and H3 .2 . It is
copper napthenate in a light organic solvent carrier - typically white
spirit. It has a characteristic bright emerald green colour and has
been used for many years as a brush-on for cut ends. The napthenic
acid component needs to be carefully monitored . Copper napthenate
is not neutral to a variety of other building components particularly
elastomeric (rubber based) glues. It is also used as a brush-on
protection for exposed cut ends.

Tin compounds
T r i-bu tyltin O xide (TBT O )
Tri-butyltin Oxide is approved for use in H 1.2 and H3.1 . This is an
organic tin compound in a light organic solvent, usually white spirit.
In addition to the solvent odour there is a separate odour from the tin
compound. It is colourless and not compatible with perrnethrin type
T r i-bu tyltin Na p thenate (T BTN)
Tri-butyltin Napthenate is approved for use in H 1.2 and H3 . 1, in
a light organic solvent carrier, usually white spirit. lt has similar
properties to TBTO but is used because it is compatible with the
insecticide perrnethrin. This other component is a requirement in H3
in Australia and plants ex porting to Australia will hold the TBTN in
preference to TBTO. lt is odourless. Its use resu lts in a dry timber
product. (see The Tin Debate below).

Other metallic compounds

Zinc napthenate is used as a colourless brush-on to wood that is
exposed as cut ends or similar. It is not listed in approved preservative
lists but seems effective as end grain protection. It is desirable
because it is colourless and does not affect paints or glues.

Non metallic organic compounds

lPBC is an organic compound used in association with permethrin
plus a combination of waxes and resins and is approved for H 1.2
(See its relative performance rating in Table 2.2). It is used in a light
organic solvent carrier, usually white spirit. lt is colourless and is very
difficult to identify and analyse for in treated wood. There are no spot
tests for it. New Zealand seems to be the only country in the world
that approves its use as a fungicide in this way. It also has a history of
use as a mouldicide additive to preservative systems.

Propiconazole plus Tebuconazole

Propiconazole plus Tebuconazole is approved for use in the H3 . 1
class. ft is used as a solution in light organic solvent, usually
white spirit. It is coming in to greater use as a dry wood product
preservative for situations where health and safety concerns have
lead to rejection ofTin based dry preservative systems. Some export
destinations of premium wood products will require this preservative
where metallics particularly tin are not acceptab le.

Creosote is a mixture of chemicals, mostly phenols, resulting from
the coking of coal. These are effective preservatives that were once
widely used but there are now no commercial plants in New Zealand.


Table 9.5 Hazard classes and preservative performance ratings.

Hazard level
H1.1 (Note 5)
H1 .2
H3 .1
H3 .2

Insect resistance

Decay resistance

Permanence rating


rating (Note 2)

(Note 3)


Active preservative

(note 1)



Boron (Note 4)


IPBC + Permethrin


Boron (Note 4)
















1. LOS = Light organic solvent (typically white spirit).

2. Decay resistance rating is based on performance in the M. Hedley decay protocol evaluations at Scion (Forest Research)
Rotorua .
3. Permanence rating is used in the context of resistance to leaching associated with damp (H1 .1, H1.2) or periodic or
frequent wetting or, in the case of the tin compounds, resistance to degradation as a result of UV and weathering .
4. This table is not comprehensive and only refers to the preservatives in common use in 2005. E.g. the option of CCA or
TBTN for H1 is ignored.
5. H1 .1 was the H1 Hazard Level and specification in MP3640 in the 1988-2003 period.

They were former ly approved for H3 to H6 but are no longer in

ZS3640 although they are still used in Australia. They have a
long hi story of use and good performance but are difficult to handle
(health and safety issues particularly around skin contact) and have a
characteristic odour. They were typically carried in oil and the use of
black or brown oils associated creosote with dark colours although in
its pure form it is almost colourless. Although approved for up to class
H6 and having long service life history, life cyc le analysis shows that
they ultimately break down into relatively harmless organic materials
as compared to the metallic residues from other preservatives.

Summary of preservatives
Table 9.5 compares and assigns a rating to various hazard levels and
preservatives that are used for timber framed buildings. The purpose
of this table is to describe the progression of performance, in relative
terms, in relation to the cause of deterioration and resistance to
leaching. A higher number indicates a better rating, but these are only
relative, so that performance of rating 2 is not twice the performance
of rating I. This tab le is included for comparative purposes, largely
based on unpublished information using judgement of the author.
Unfortunately there is no correlation that can be quoted between
the durability ratings of Table 9.3 and the hazard and preservative
classifications ofTable 9.5.

Preservation processes
This was the historical process for producing wet boric treated
H 1.2 timber. Fresh sawn wet wood was dipped in a borate or borax
solution which was stacked , and diffusion in the wet wood took place
over some weeks, depending on temperature. lt appears that it can
now be done with dry wood , in association with diffusion agents, to
achieve H 1.2.


Pressure Processes
There are several pressure processes
incorporating combinations of pressure and
vacuum cycles in a pressure vessel. These
are typically required for the copper based
aqueous preservatives. For large section
timbers and poles they may be accompan ied
by steaming to partially dry the timber before
treating. Pulling a strong vacuum at the end
of the cycle will result in less drip and a dry
Vacuum Processes
The preservatives borne by light organic
solvent do not need the high pressures of the
aqueous systems. There is not the need for
pressure vessels and hence the plants have
lighter engineering. They work on the basis
of pulling a vacuum , flooding, drawing and
pulling another vacuum. The same system
can be applied to dry wood, using an aqueous
preservative with a diffusion agent.

Water is the traditional carrier for aqueous
preservative systems.
Light Organic Solvent (LOSP)
White Spirit is the standard light organi c
solvent (LOSP) in general use. It is a
combination of petroleum fractions with
boiling points from about 160 degrees C
to 240 degrees C. They have a distincti ve

aromatic odour that comes from the heavier

fracti ons. There is widespread belief and
trong evidence that there are health problems
associated with the volatile emissions from
these so lvents. There are Occupational Safety
and Health (OSH) requirements in relation to
flash-off and filleting of LOS P treated wood.
At the time of writing the Environmental Risk
Management Authority (ERMA) and OSH
are scrutinising the use of such solvents in the
timber treatment industry.
Kerosene is no longer in use as a LOSP
carrier. Other new solvents may come into use
as the price of petroleum-based solvents rises.
The driver will be the ability to condense and
recover so lvents rather than flash-off to the

Glulam beams performing well in the severe

environment of a urea storage shed.

from natural sources such as food is much greater than any contact
with treated wood.
In Australia the APVMA has adopted a cautious approach. In
Australia CCA treated timber is not permitted for handrails, picnic
tables children 's play equipment, domestic decking on the basis that
any risk from such sources is easier to eliminate than to quantify.
In New Zealand ERMA has adopted the position that, used correctly,
CCA treated wood is safe. There is concern that end-of-life disposal
of treated wood is unresolved and may be the subject of future
regulation with a focus on recycling.

The Tin debate

The organic tin compounds as used for timber preservation in New
Zealand and Australia are not pennitted for this purpose in USA
or Japan and their usage in the EU is uncertain. These preservative
products originated in Europe to extend the life of specia lity wood
products particularly exterior joinery. The extension of their use in to
large volumes of building framing is peculiar to Australia and New
Zealand. Approval for use in Europe may have been withdrawn or
may vary between countries.
There are concerns around organic tin for two reasons. It may be
a human health hazard and is known to be a hazard to aquatic life.
In New Zealand its use as marine antifouling is now restricted
to international shipping to limit the loss of tin into marine
environments. It is known that with uncoated treated wood, tin
leaches and is reduced to inorganic tin through time and exposure to
sunlight. ln Queensland, Australia, a move to elevated tin levels for
H3 was not adopted in their legislation and may never be adopted .
In New Zealand, TBTN/TBTO treated timber is not classified as

The CCA debate

Coming initially from concerns in the USA
there has been a lengthy debate on the safety
of CCA treated wood. The scare factor is
the presence of an arsenical component in
the preservative system and the concern that
this component could be eaten by chi ldren.
These concerns have been fully investigated
and found to be unjustified. A conclusion
from the Environment Protection Agency
(EPA) in the USA is that it cannot identify
any ri sk to health from treated wood when
used correctly. While the EPA has regulated
its use in residentia l situations it has not
listed CCA treated wood as a hazardous
substance in the USA. The arsenical content
is not readily available from the wood and
on items such as decking dislodgeable
arsen ica ls are at such low levels that they do
not pose a health risk. There has been no ban
or requ irement to remove such equ ipment
from use. Significantly a conclusion in the
USA was that compared to natural sources
of arsenicals, any coming from treated wood
was not significant, and everyday exposure

Good durability with timber can be obtained by designing to avoid
destructive agencies.
A few naturally durable timbers exist. Preservative treatment can give
adequate durability to naturally non-durable species.
Radiata pine is very easy to treat for a wide range of hazard classes.
Methods of timber treatment and regulations regarding their use are
constantly evolving.


Further reading
I. Service Tests of Wood Preservatives. M.E. Hedley, What's New
in Forest Research, No. 34, Forest Research Institute, 1976.

The Natural Durability of Untreated Timbers . C. Hughes, What's

New in Forest Research, No. 112, Forest Research Institute, 1982.

3. Wood Preservation in New Zealand. M.E. Hedley, NZ Journal of

Timber Constmction Vol. 4, No. I, 1988, pp. 18-21.
Corrosion of Metal Fasteners Embedded in Timber. J. R.
Duncan. BRA NZ Reprint No. 68, Building Research Association of
ew Zealand, 1986.


5. The Compliance Document for the New Zealand Building CodeClause E2- External Moisture. Department of Building and Housing.
www.dbh .govt.n:zJUserFiles/File/Publications/ Building/Compliancedocuments/clause-e2.pdf
6. Timber Treatment Requirements: Notes for Builders. Department
of Building and Housing. www.dbh .govt.n:zJUserFiles/File/

NZ Timber Preservation Council,

A list of timber-related New Zealand standards is given in Chapter 15.

Treated radiata pine in severe outdoor environment.


Further reading

Service Tests of Wood Preservatives. M.E. Hedley, What's

in Forest Research,



o. 34, Fore t Re earcb Institute, 1976.

The Natural Durability of Untreated Timbers . C. Hughes, What's

ew in Forest Research , No. 112, Forest Research In titute, 1982.


Wood Preservation in ew Zealand. M.E. Hedley,

Timber Construction Vol. 4,


Z Journal of

o. I, 1988, pp. 18-21.

Corrosion of Metal Fasteners Embedded in Timber. J. R.

Duncan. BRA Z Reprint

ew Zealand, 1986.

o. 68 , Building Research A sociation of

5. The Compliance Document for the New Zealand Building CodeClau e E2- External Moisture. Department of Building and Housing.
www.dbh.govt.nzJUserFiles/Fi le/Publications/ Building/Compliancedocuments/clau e-e2.pdf
6. Timber Treatment Requirement : otes for Builders. Department
of Building and Housing. www.dbh.govt.nzJUserFi les/Fi le/

Z Timber Preservation Council, .nz

A list of timber-related

ew Zealand standards is given in Chapter 15.

Treated radiata pine in severe outdoor environment.