Treat her right: Building with timber

The NZ Wood Resene Timber Design Awards 2014 have highlighted innovation in the building industry that both New Zealand and Australian tradespeople can gain inspiration from. 

"Innovative designs in wood are giving us a whole new kind of building. The best of what is being built today is strong, sustainable and thermally sound," announced Associate Minister for Primary Industries Jo Goodhew in a March statement. 

From weatherboard to timber, there is an array for options for tradespeople looking to create the perfect home for clients, or complete renovations on an existing property. 

While options used to be limited to steel and concrete, engineered timber is now increasingly popular and has a good record for "thermal performance", according to Ms Goodhew. 

Building with timber

As a builder, it's important to know the best ways to treat timber before embarking on significant developments or renovations. 

The Timber Preservers' Association of Australia (TPAA) oversees the supply of timber preservatives and treatment, as well as the organisations and individuals that research this popular building resource. 

The association has adopted a range of principles relating to timber preservation as well as the appropriate methods to follow. 

It promotes high industry standards so builders can be confident they're dealing with the best quality materials when building new homes or renovating existing properties.

The royal treatment

The TPAA recommends that if timber is going to be exposed to weather conditions, is under water or has ground contact, it should be treated. 

From framing and roofing to fences, decks and pergolas, treated timber can improve the structure's longevity. 

There are three types of treatment – pressure impregnation, immersion and spray. 

The technique used will depend on the kind of preservative applied. A common type is copper chrome arsenic (CCA), which helps preserve the life of the wood.

Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Resource Organisation notes that it cannot be used for certain purposes in Australia, while New Zealand has its own set of restrictions.

The handling of CCA-treated timber does not pose a risk to builders' health, notes New Zealand's Environmental Risk Management Authority in a 2003 report.

There is a range of other treatment options also available and it's important to remember that regulations will differ between countries, but safety is always paramount. 

The treatments protect against different problems, too. For instance, some are geared at preventing decay while other protect against termites. Have a chat to your supplier if you're unsure of the best kind of timber for the job. 

Other preservative options include creosote and modified creosote-based preservatives, boron or fluoride preservative compounds  – such as Polybor or Timtech – and light organic solvent-based preservatives. 

With a range of options available when it comes to treated timber, you can be sure that there's something for your business' building needs.

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