Belmeade Signs
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Using Heat-Treated Wood for Sign Making

(An alternative to exotic, pressure treated and hardwood)


Author: Jean-Luc Godard, Belmeade Signs


Heat treated wood (or torrefied wood) has been around for about 40 years. It now, stands out as a valuable ecological method to produce a material that has the advantages of several species without creating any large negative impact in our environment.

What is it , how does it work?

The basic process uses heat and water. When wood is exposed to high temperatures (200C or more), its properties change significantly. Sugars inside the wood break up into a form that rot fungi cannot use. What is more, natural protective compounds in the wood are effectively distributed to protect the wood. Heat treatment usually takes about 24 hours. Any type of wood can be heat-treated, but the most commonly used species are pine, poplar, spruce, birch and aspen.

As mentioned above, heat treating the wood will cause a number of chemical and physical changes that depend upon temperature and time of treatment. As a result, the material will have enhanced properties like:

  • Protection from rot, fungi (15-25 times better than untreated lumber) and termites
  • Enhanced durability (varies from wood species to another)
  • Dimensional stability because the treated wood can not absorb as much water (50 to 70% less than regular lumber)
  • Low water absorption
  • Harder
  • Natural darker color (no need to use stain for some applications)
  • Lower cost than woods with similar benefits such as cedar, redwood and cypress.

Why it is good for the environment

The increase in demand for wood building materials could have a negative influence on timber-sustainability unless corresponding increases in material durability and/or expected service-life can be found. Insects (termites in particular) and fungi are the main causes for wood replacement and pressure-treated lumber has copper, chromium, and arsenic chemicals that are known to be, in high levels, harmful to the environment and life . The heat treatment in lumber does not add any chemicals to the wood and allow the use of locally and less desirable wood to be used (after heat treatment) as outdoor safe lumber. This will decrease the harvest of exotic trees and help preserve the tropical zones from heavier deforestation.

That is why Belmeade Signs is offering Heat-Treated wood in its custom signs!


Article compiled from various sources.