Because scaffold boards are used externally, are they treated?
We touched on this in our last post about our kindling, but wanted to write a specific post about this, as we know that this is a common question for many people.
The short answer is: no, our boards are not treated or tanalised. Unless of course we've made it in to a shelf or piece of furniture and you've chosen to have it oiled!
Many types of timber intended for outdoor use are indeed tanalised, as this helps to protect them from moisture and rot. When a board is tanalised, it is pressure treated with Tanalith E, which is a particular type of treatment for the specific purpose of preserving the wood.
Scaffold boards are not treated in this way as they are not intended for the continuous, damp usage that something like a fence post is. Remember, a fence post needs to stand in position, in all elements, for 25 years or more. It will probably be buried in postcrete but will also have mud and wet vegetation up against it all the year round, so it has to be particularly durable. Scaffold boards are not used in this way, and whilst they can be out for long periods of time, they are allowed to dry between each use and will usually need to be replaced due to damage or splitting before any rot has a chance to set it.
How can I tell that it has no treatment?
Tanalised boards have a greenish colouring to them. This is a result of the chemical preservative which is used in the tanalising process. This is very helpful in determining if a board has been treated, as it won't be it's original natural colour. Having said that, the treated appearance will fade with weathering so it can be hard to be completely sure using a visual check alone. This is why it's always best to try and determine where the timber came from and if it was treated at any point.
Scaffold boards come to us in their original and beautiful natural colour, so we can assure you that they are not treated beforehand. We have no reason to add any treatment as we use them only in the way described above.
Should I treat the boards I purchase from you, if I intend to use them outside?
We prefer to sell boards untreated as many of our customers are using them in an indoor setting and so this helps to reduce the use of unneccesary chemicals. It also means that our off-cuts are great for use as kindling!
However If you are planning to use the boards for continued external use, in all weather conditions, then it may be a good idea to treat them. There are all sorts of treatments you can use on external timber, all providing different levels of protection and usually with some sort of colouring or tint too. We won't be advising specifically which treatments to use in this post, however it's something we'll look to re-visit in a future one! Untreated boards will eventually rot though (as do treated ones, just somewhat more slowly!), as timber is an organic product so will react to moisture and other forms of degradation (UV, insect attack etc). It's also worth noting that UV will discolour almost any timber to a silvery grey after prolonged exposure. Again, some treatments can mitigate this (particularly those with a UV protection added), but it is inevitable in many cases.
What about boards from other companies?
We can only speak for our own boards, which we can guarantee are not treated (and can provide certification of this if required). However, we cannot guarantee that all boards are the same. Some scaffold boards may be tanalised or even given a fire retardant treatment particularly if used in petrochemical or offshore industries.
It's always best to ask the question so that you can be sure.
We hope this helps answer the question on whether or not our scaffold boards are treated. As always, we are only an email away so if you have any questions at all then please don't hesitate to get back in touch.