A fresh approach
to treated lumber

accoya wood is the new contender to replace CCA pressure treated wood

Ever since the CCA lumber panic, many Americans have been leery about what might be lurking in their backyard decks, fences, and outdoor furnishings. The arsenic may be gone, but some replacement materials include heavy metals and biocides, while others rely on energy-intensive thermal treatments. It's enough to make some folks conclude that plastic composites are a more sustainable alternative for outdoor use.

A new technology may change that perception. Acetylation is a treatment technology that, in laboratory trials, had proven to toughen up wood fibers and protect woods from harsh outdoor conditions. The process uses a chemical that, in its diluted form, is basically household vinegar, but
for decades nobody knew how to apply that knowledge in a commercially useful way. "Ten years ago, our company figured out how to do that, and started slowly ramping up from what was initially not much bigger than a test tube to treating a railroad car's worth of wood at a time," said Hal Stebbins of Titan Wood.

In their own testing process, Titan determined that the acetylation process took the free hydroxils in the wood, which are ready to bind with water, and changed them to something that insects and fungus can't recognize as food. That change also made the wood harder and stopped it from shrinking and swelling.

Titan envisioned a wide range of applications for their new technology. "We knew that if we could keep the molecules of wood from absorbing water, then the wood would not shrink and swell, and you wouldn't have the sticking that happens with wood windows and doors," said Stebbins. Not absorbing water might also eliminate risk of rotting, which occurs when water-soaked wood becomes a feeding ground for fungus and cellulose-eating insects.

"Another thing that happens when you stabilize the molecules in the wood like we're doing is you make it UV resistant," Stebbins pointed out. "Therefore, you can get a much larger palette of viable stains to choose from." Titan has tested an interesting palette of stain colors from ivory to ebony to demonstrate the wood's enhanced dimensional stability.

While the process is compatible with most wood species, the finished product, dubbed accoya wood,' is initially showing up as an FSC certified radiata pine variety. Titan has determined that accoya can perform for 50 years above ground, and 20 years in-ground or in fresh water. "There is not another technology, toxic or non-toxic, that meets our standards in terms of dimensional stability and durability," Stebbins asserts, "for the markets we intend to serve." 

Stebbins emphasized that accoya is a product of sustainable technology. "This is a non-toxic process and it's not just the product itself that's non-toxic, we view the manufacturing process as very environmentally responsible," he said. "When we get done, we're selling some by-products like turpenes that can be used for fragrances, and the water we flush out of the wood is clean enough to safely go into the sewage system."

Titan is looking to bring accoya to market through partnerships with manufacturers of outdoor lumber, decking, doors, and windows.

Formaldehyde-free particle board

Your customer doesn't have to be green to decide that she would really prefer to keep her kitchen
cabinets free of toxic chemicals, thank you. That's as true for household kitchens as it is for the neighborhood diner. Uniboard's Nu Green particle board is composed of FSC certified recycled fibers, utilizing a moisture-resistant glue with no added urea formaldehyde. The product is supplied in a variety of colors, sizes, and dimensions. Nu Green qualifies as an EPP  Environmentally Preferrable Product, and may contribute to LEED certification in 6 different categories.

Six Ways to Cut Waste

Showing builders new ways to save money can be profitable for both of you
With the housing situation as tight as it is, dealers need to keep their customers' loyalty and grow some additional margin. At the same time, builders are looking at new ways to cut waste. "Some of them have been doing this for a few years, others are just picking up on it," said Terry Stone, GM/Marketing for Ainsworth. Stone has recently seen dealers come up with some clever ideas for marketing his company's APA-rated 0.8E Durastrand OSL Rimboard:

• Don't overspec. "For a rim application you don't necessarily need a 1.3 E-rated product. There are more cost effective ways to meet code. Durastrand's 0.8E designation means that it has a modulus of elasticity' of 800,000 psi."

• If you have a basement window, historically you would have had to cut the rim board out over the window and put in a LVL or something with a higher E-rating. "Our Durastrand Rimboard allows you to keep a contiguous rim and acts like the short span header over that basement window," Stone pointed out. That saves labor and reduces waste.

• If a builder has his rim board delivered in 24 foot lengths but only needs to use 20 feet of it, he can use the 4 foot section that's left over as the header over a window on an upper floor.

• "He can use it as a stringer when building stair systems in conjunction with Ainsworth's StediTred," said Stone.

• A retailer trying to differentiate himself with his clients could manufacture the stair systems in-house for jobsite delivery to the builder. "That's an opportunity to make some extra margin on products a dealer would be carrying anyway," said Stone. "All that's involved is adding the value of a little labor, and a little marketing savvy to sell their wares."

• Durastrand can be purchased in wider dimensions than you'd typically encounter in sawn lumber  at depths of up to 24 inches and lengths as much as 24 feet. That would allow the lumber yard or the stair system manufacturer to nest 2 stringers in with one another. "Now you're no longer throwing away all those little triangles," Stone pointed out. "That's a savings of about 40 percent off the waste that would otherwise end up in landfill."


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