In this blog post, you will find all the answers to the burning questions you have regarding why you need to use CCA Treated Timber for your construction project, the CCA treatment process, the safety of CCA treated timber and the product sizes and prices.
As a company that not only specializes in the treatment of the timber but also the growth and harvesting of it, we can guarantee that you will find all the answers you are looking for.
So let’s get to it…
CCA Treated Timber vs. Untreated timber for your construction project
Firstly let’s start off by telling you that CCA stands for Chromated copper arsenate, this mix of chemicals have been used to preserve wood since the mid-1930’s. If you have even seen CCA treated wood, you will know that this highly balanced and specialized mix of chromium, copper, and arsenate also gives the wood a distinct green tint. Each separate element in the treatment serves a very unique and specific goal which helps preserve the wood. Thereafter it is used for various building materials in and around the house. (We will go into a bit more detail regarding these characteristics underneath “The Importance of the CCA Treatment Process”)
When building with lumber there are a few factors you need to keep in mind, namely weather conditions, insects and fungi to name but a few. When using raw timber in construction you are more likely than not to run into massive problems with termites and wood decay caused by weather conditions. Usually, when building with raw wood you would have to be very careful where and how you use the timber. The speed at which the decaying process starts can is dependent on the positioning and use of the untreated timber.
Consideration the following factors:
Where are you planning on using the wood, indoors or outdoors? When using the raw wood indoors, you are protecting it from intense moisture, weather conditions and most insects which means the wood will last longer. But when using the wood outside you will be decreasing the life expectancy significantly as you are exposing it to all of nature’s harmful elements.
Whether you are planning to use the wood above ground vs. below ground. The second untreated wood comes into contact with the ground, it starts the slow decaying process. This is because of the moisture that it not only soaks out of the ground but the moisture in the air. If you are in a particular area with high moisture levels (like Oceanside etc.) we can guarantee that your untreated wood will decay faster than inland. The reason for this is that wood-decay fungi start digesting moist wood, which then causes the wood to rot at an alarming rate.
When wood is in contact with the ground you are also exposing it to various wood termites. The termites can then start eating the wood from below.
Structural Untreated Timber
While you are able to use untreated timber for various structures, you are risking the structural integrity. Using untreated wood puts your structure at risk to not only weather conditions, but termites. Realization of a termite problem usually only comes after the structural integrity of your building has been compromised. Because termites crawl from below the ground, you rarely see the damage they cause.
When using CCA treated timber you are essentially avoiding all these problems as it offers resistance against all the various harsh weather conditions and insects that might damage the wood. The various chemicals in the CCA treatment process are all selected to serve the purpose of locking out moisture, and keeping termites and other wood-eating insects away.
The Importance of CCA Treated Timber Process
As mentioned above, it is very important to use treated timber, especially when working on project outdoors as you are exposing it to various weather conditions and wood-eating insects.
The process of treating timber starts with putting dry timber into the pressure vessel, the chemicals (CCA – Chromate Copper Arsenate) which have been dissolved in water are then pumped into the dry wood at a high pressure. The wood stays in the high-pressure vessel for a while to ensure that the wood soaks up as much as it needs to. It is then removed from the high-pressure vessel and laid out to dry. Each chemical has a specific goal:
“The chromium acts as a chemical fixing agent and has little or no preserving properties; it helps the other chemicals to fix in the timber, binding them through chemical complexes to the wood’s cellulose and lignin. The copper acts primarily to protect the wood against decay, fungi, and bacteria, while the arsenic is the main insecticidal component of CCA, providing protection from wood attacking insects including termites and marine borers. It also improves the weather-resistance of treated timber and may assist paint adherence in the long term” (Wikipedia, n.d.)
After the treated timber has dried, it is safe to use immediately. The whole CCA treatment process takes between 1 – 2 days (excl drying times).
When we talk about the importance of the CCA treatment process, we’d like to answer the two following questions:
- Is CCA wood still sold in South Africa?
- What is the life expectancy of CCA treated wood?
Is CCA Wood Still sold?
Yes. Selling CCA Treated timber is permitted all over the world. Therefore residential and commercial builders are allowed to use it in their projects.. In South Africa, CCA treated wood has been cleared by both The South African Wood Preservers Association (SAWPA) and South African Board of Standards (SABS). At Sabie Poles, we ensure that all our products are up to standard with both of these entities.
Life expectancy of CCA treated wood
While some companies offer a year-based life expectancy, we have a lifetime guarantee on all our treated timber products at Sabie Poles. We are confident that the CCA treated wood will last a lifetime, whether used for indoor or outdoor construction projects. Additionally, it is an environmentally friendly product, by using CCA treated timber you are ensuring a durable structure which will not require additional repairs/ rebuilding because of decay. Therefore you are contributing to reducing the number of trees needed to be harvested for additional building and repairs.
Is CCA Treated Timber Safe?
SAWPA and SABS both approve of using Chromium Copper Arsenate as a wood preservative within South Africa.
The mixture of Chromium Copper Arsenate is pressure impregnated through a process called “fixation”. It causes the preservative to become immobile which makes it highly leach resistant. Various studies have led to the conclusion that the benefits of CCA treated timber far outweigh any risk it might pose to people that come into contact with the treated timber.
These studies have all been intense, some of them lasting up to eight years like the study conducted by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States.
Studies on the safety of CCA Treated Poles on playgrounds:
Another study done by an unbiased source conducted a study comparing playgrounds built with non-CCA Treated timber as well as playgrounds built with CCA treated timber, the conclusion being that there were little to no harmful effects on the children.
“These results show that there is no significant difference in the concentration or speciation of arsenic between the samples from children playing on CCA and non-CCA playgrounds. Contact with CCA playgrounds is not likely to significantly contribute to the overall arsenic exposure in children; other sources such as dietary arsenic may be the main contributor to their overall exposure.” You can read more regarding this study here.
Using CCA Treated Timber is common in the last six decades. During this time there have been no reports of any health issues with connection to the CCA treated timber.
Reporting of health conditions and issues has only been as a result of incorrect use and exposure to wood. In the same way, heating and cooking on fire made with CCA Treated Timber are prohibited due to health concerns.
CCA Treated Timber Product Sizes and Prices
At Sabie Poles, we have two high-pressure vessels to ensure that we can always supply on demand. We always keep stock on hand in our yard and we are able to organize delivery to anywhere in South Africa.
Sabie poles specialize in two types of treated wood: Eucalyptus (Gum) and Pine. Finding both of these species are easy in the Mpumalanga region. To ensure the highest quality timber, we have our own farm where we grow the eucalyptus trees. Buying our eucalyptus seedlings from a reliable nursery that specializes in the germination and growth of gumtrees has always been important to us.
Sabie poles are able to supply the following CCA treated timber products:
- CCA Treated Lathes
- Fencing Poles / Droppers (CCA Treated)
- CCA Treated Poles (
- Boards (CCA Treated)
All of Sabie Pole’s treated timber products are in accordance with SABS (South African Bureau of Standards).
CCA Treated Lathes
The decoration of weaved baskets and ornaments usually make use of lathes. Decoration underneath grass roofs like in a lapa is another use for CCA Treated Lathes. Keeping the grass together in grass thatching is a great way to use CCA treated Lathes.
Wood Sizes for Lathes
They are available in the following sizes:
- size: 25/32mm diameter in lengths 1.2m – 3m
CCA Treated Fencing Wood
Using Eucalyptus treated timbers is the most common for fencing material. The reason being that the eucalyptus is of a dense quality which makes it stronger and more durable than softwoods (Pine).
Our fencing products are all in accordance with SABS 457 Standards.
Fencing / Dropper Timber Sizes
- 32/50mm(H3) diameter in lengths 1.2m to 3m
CCA Treated Poles
Sabie poles specialize in quality treated eucalyptus and pine poles. We transport all over South Africa. However harvesting locally is our pride.
Building constructions like wooden houses, log homes, deck support structures, garden constructions etc. are generally making use of Treated Poles.
Pole Sizes (CCA Treated ):
We supply various sizes and lengths poles.
- 50/74mm diameter in lengths 1.2m to 8.4m
- 75/99mm diameter in lengths 1.2m to 10m
- 100/124mm diameter in lengths 1.2m to 15m
- 125/149mm diameter in lengths 1.2m to 15m
- 150/174mm diameter in lenghts 1.2m to 15m
- 175/199mm diameter in lenghts 1.2m to 15m
- 200/224mm diameter in lenghts 1.2m to 15m
Boards with CCA Treatment (Pine)
We buy our pine from local suppliers, treat it and deliver anywhere in South Africa. Decking outside and cladding around houses is the most common purpose of these pine boards.
A wide range of sizes is available.
25mm – 228mm
1.2m – 6.6m (Increments of 300mm)
Additional Extra long finger-jointed treated timber sizes are also available at Sabie Poles. Please contact us for more information regarding these treated timber sizes and prices.
CCA Treated Wood Prices
Treated timber comes in varying sizes which means the price varies depending on the material and the size. Therefore we have compiled an updated price list for 2018 for your convenience so that you know exactly what you can get, and how much you’ll be paying for the treated timber.
Our price list can be downloaded from our homepage, it includes all the pricing and detailed sizes of all our treated timber products.
Contacting us means you will get the best advice, service, and products in the industry. We pride ourselves on the fact that we have years of experience in the industry. We service clients all over South Africa with pressure treated wood. Therefore, if you require any help, whether it is with building plans, knowing which class of timber to use or simply to ask more regarding the treatment process, we encourage you to contact us!