Bespoke Wood Preservation and Damp Proofing Advice
The continuous attempt to make building materials more sustainable and economically viable is aided by an ever increasing amount of available information on preventing them from being ruined by deterioration processes regarded as unavoidable in past centuries.
The numerous technological advances attained in recent years allow the application of efficient and simultaneously safe treatments against any type of timber decay, substantially prolonging the life span of timber structures, especially if care is taken to ensure they are kept in non-aggressive environments. Treatments are available for preventing decay as well as repairing the damage caused by decay agents (whenever possible) and providing future protection. In the UK, timber is most commonly affected by:
- Degradation caused by the natural elements, including rain and snow, very low or very high temperatures and ultraviolet radiation, as well as natural disasters like floods.
- Physical damage caused by the absorption and evaporation of moisture.
- Biological decay caused by vegetable organisms (fungi such as mould, mildew, dry rot and wet rot, but also other organisms such as lichens).
- Damage caused by wood-boring insects (in the form of holes and tunnels).
- Chemical damage following exposure to substances such as solvent and acids (through acid rain or aggressive cleaning solutions for instance).
Due to its oceanic climate, the UK faces a large annual amount of rain and snow; the level of air humidity and ground water predispose unprotected buildings to moisture-related damage such as:
- Fungal infestations (mould and mildew) which are very toxic to the health of people and animals alike and can damage a great variety of materials, from masonry to textiles.
- Rising damp, which can cause structural damage and aids the absorption of hygroscopic salts into walls, complicating the repair process, which requires the removal of various wall layers.
- Penetrating damp, which can cause serious problems as well, from the simple deterioration of decorative finishes to large wall cracks and foundation settling.
- Rusting wall ties, which can lead to wall tie failure and hence to cracked, bulging or even collapsing walls.
Although the type of protection employed for timber differs from that applied to other building materials such as brickwork, plaster, cement etc, common methods can be found, as many decay agents coincide:
- Carrying out regular inspections of all structures considered to be at risk of degradation.
- Protecting all materials used outdoors, particularly if they are often exposed to the natural elements.
- Preventing rising damp by installing a damp proof course.
- Preventing or addressing water ingress from broken pipes, damaged roofs, window sills etc.
- Creating a dry indoor environment by eliminating or at least limiting condensation, as well as completely waterproofing parts of a building which are more susceptible to water ingress, such as basements.
- Treating fungal infestations as soon as they are noticed, to prevent them from spreading.
- Avoiding the use of potentially damaging chemicals.
- Ensuring that all spaces are properly ventilated.
- Applying protective coatings whenever possible.