How to I protect wood and wood based products against decay?

October 5 / Stacey / Comments (0)

Any wood or wood-based product that comes into contact with earth must be pressure-treated with some type of preservative. If not, the wood will decay at a rapid rate due to moisture and lack of ventilation. If the wood is compromised, it can affect a building’s stability. The topography of each piece of property is unique and largely uncontrollable. Erosion and water run-off change our properties every day. Flood zones change. When we construct a new building, garage, barn or addition, the Contractor should build your project with that in mind.

In residential work, homes have basements, crawl spaces, garages are normally built at grade, and addition projects are faced with the challenge of building decay-resistant structures. Residential construction is normally done with lumber not steel. Steel framing is used primarily in commercial construction for projects like apartments and skyscrapers. Wood is cheaper than steel and easier to work with for 3 story homes or smaller. This keeps material and labor costs at a minimum.

The International Building Code has prescriptive guidelines regarding protection of wood and wood based products against decay. Wood joists or wood based structural floor products must be treated if they are closer than 18” to the earth. Any wood that rests on a concrete floor that is 8” from grade must be treated for decay. Wood structural members supporting moisture-permeable floors and roofs that are exposed to weather, such as concrete slabs must be separated by an imperious moisture barrier. And lastly, wood furring strips or other wood framing members attached directly to the interior of exterior masonry walls below grade must have a vapor retarder, like poly, applied between the walls and furring strips or any framing members must be treated.

There is a standard for treated wood products that is specific, containing identifying information. These seals must identify the origin of the treatment, the type of preservative, stainless steel, silicon bronze or copper. Any fasteners must be zinc-coated. Zinc doesn’t react to the chemicals used in treated wood framing products that are used in garages. Therefore, it makes sense that copper conducting rods used to ground the slabs and footers in garages are copper. Plastic composite products used in exterior decking, stair treads, handrails and guardrail systems must also be labeled.

Moisture retention and subterranean termites or insects are the greatest barriers to foundations for garages, homes, shell homes, barns and additions. Talk with your Contractor about your pest control issues and the grade in which your property and your garage project will be built. Experienced, responsible building Contractors know to use salt or pressure-treated wood products for your mudsill and sole plates. In certain building situations, the framing members used for the walls must also be treated.

Call H.W. Enterprises, Inc. for expert advice and planning for your next garage, barn, shell home or addition. We have buildings that are standing that are over 50 years old. Who else would you want to build for you? or call us at 757-595-4562 office or 757-696-1927 cell. We would love to earn your business.


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