Salvaged Wood – Question & Answer
In addition to our ongoing preservation efforts, Southern Accents is known to be a resource that fields questions on salvaged products daily. We delight in passing along our knowledge of these products to anyone interested. With growing interest and the realization of the environmental benefits of reusing salvaged items, we get quite a few questions about the use of salvaged wood. One question that we hear quite often pertains to the treatment of salvaged wood to eradicate or prevent insect infestation.
The first thing that we want to stress is that all wood, whether new lumber or salvaged, is a target for insects, specifically wood-boring species. There are different methods that can be used to safely treat any wood species and address any possible ‘bug’ issues.
When we salvage a property, any wood that is visibly infested is culled and burned. However, not all insects can be easily detected. Thankfully, there are safe treatment options available that will take care of unseen insects. Our preferred method of treating salvaged wood is using heat. The wood is placed in a kiln for several hours to get the core temperature hot enough to kill any existing wood-boring insects and their eggs. We think this is the safest and most reliable method of treatment. This method is especially preferred for salvaged wood that will be used in the interior of a home or business.
Another method is using a mixture of borate powder and water which is applied to the wood. This method coats the exterior of the wood, forming an invisible salt solution which acts as an insect deterrent. Once ingested by the insect, it causes it to dehydrate and die. The downside to any chemical treatment is that the chemicals will only kill existing insects to the depth that the chemical is absorbed by the wood. Borate or Borax is a boron mineral and salt that is mined directly from the ground. It is deemed to be relatively non-toxic and might be desirable for wood used particularly in areas where exposure to insects is expected.
When using salvaged wood for interior purposes, whether as flooring, a wall covering, counter top, or furniture, the product can be finished with a wax, oil, urethane product or paint. All of these finishing products will also act as a protective barrier and deterrent to future insects.
The beauty and patina of aged wood is unmatched. The treatment methods discussed here ensure that the use of salvaged wood is a very viable option. The use of salvaged wood is often desirable for aesthetic reasons, but also because it contributes to the continued sustainability of our environment. Stop by our showroom, wood warehouse, or visit us online atsa1969.com to view our extensive collection of salvaged wood.