Timber treaters urged to unlock “creative freedom”

17 April 2018

The timber treatment sector has been urged to unlock its “creative freedom” and better communicate the benefits of treated wood during the annual Wood Protection Association (WPA) Conference in Derby.

The Making the Most of Wood event, held on April 12, saw PR specialist Liz Male of LM Consulting told the assembled wood treaters and preservatives manufacturers to become better storytellers and make their customers heroes in showing how use of treated wood has overcome problems and contributed positively to projects.

Ms Male said she could not find many examples on the internet showing customer use of treated wood in a visual and passionate way. “You are selling creative freedom,” she said.

“You are helping the client do something that they can’t otherwise do. Let’s get the hearts as well as the minds and, tap into the emotions and tell the stories. Go and have some fun!”

Dr Ed Suttie of BRE highlighted that inaccurate and outdated statements about treated timber, its emissions and health were still being made.

He shared about the BRE review of treated timber and indoor air quality which is aimed at providing meaningful emissions data for the WPA.

Mr Suttie said the research conducted to date showed treated timber emissions levels reaching indoor air were “negligible”. Good research, data and reliability of products were important, he added, against a background of the health and well-being “mega-trend” in the built environment.

Meanwhile, a presentation by Exova’s Phil O’Leary on cross-laminated timber (CLT) led to an interesting debate among delegates as to whether CLT should be preservative-treated.

Mr O’Leary shared some examples of water ingress/high moisture readings in CLT ground floor and roof panels where poor construction site detailing and practice was experienced. These examples were from large and complex build projects featuring complicated junction and connection details.

WPA director Steve Young said wood preservatives could have a role in treating external CLT wall panels. Contact has been made between the treatment industry and Structural Timber Association and delegates advocated further cross-industry talks on the issue.

Delegate Elisabeth Piveteau, of PiveteauBois said the company’s new CLT plant would offer panels treated to UC2 as a standard - a legal requirement for all structural components in France - and will also offer panels treated to UC4, with the individual lamellas treated before pressing.

Peter Klaas, CEO of leading treatment plant supplier WTT, described it as “exciting times” for the wood preservation industry.

“There is a strong interest from companies in developing new products and processes, very often for commercial reasons and not just regulatory reasons like IED,” he said.

Mr Klaas said the average size and value of its UK plant installations had grown from around £250,000 in 2007 to about £1m last year.

“It is dramatic and it has really taken off in the last 3-4 years.”

(A full report on the WPA Conference will appear in the June issue of TTJ)

Ed Suttie talks at the WPA Conference