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Timber Treatment

The many uses of timber are remarkable, it is one of the oldest and most widely used construction materials known to man and will continue to be used in the building industry long into the foreseeable future also its functionality to be used structurally and decoratively especially within important historical buildings, means that we take pride and care in preserving pieces of the past.

- In this instance we have been surveying, repairing, preserving and treating timber as far back as 1984, to which we are graced to have been able to work in some of the most culturally and historically rich buildings, not only in Hampshire but in England. -

(Below is an outbreak of dry-rot that was identified and treated back in 1988)

The symptoms of decay don't necessarily present themselves boldly or straight away as a thin veneer on the surface can remain whilst the damage occurs underneath. As the wood slowly disintegrates you may see the shrinking and cracking more noticeably, also becoming soft, spongy and stained. 'Cuboidal Cracking' is a term allocated to the type of damage caused by brown rots, 'cuboid', due to the cubes that appear on the wood whereas white rots leave the wood stringy and fibrous, with a bleached appearance.

Many myths have evolved regarding fungal decay leading to the beliefs that whole buildings will have to be pulled down, a combination of poor building maintenance coupled with terrible British weather or perhaps even a long, persistent leak into a sealed void will certainly not be good news for timber members and beams that make up the fabric of many buildings in the U.K. Therefore we must always stress that timber remains dry and is well ventilated to protect it from decay, as there have been unfortunate circumstances in which it was too late.

To the contrary though, it can simply be controlled with the right environmental and building considerations, backed up with the legitimate use of timber and masonry preservatives. Importantly now, the industry is heavily regulated thus tightening the use of biocides and fungicides, and so manufacturers have come a long way developing much safer, more environmentally friendly products, quashing the expectations of extremely large volumes of chemicals to be used with any adverse odours, toxic affects and fumes.

(Below - A white rot, found in a first floor void after a continuous leak, which had heavily saturated the timbers below)

Dry Rot (Serpula Lacrymans) a very stealthy and surreptitious organism, favours dark, stagnant and damp conditions to flourish and this is why it is able to proliferate extensively before the damage is first noticed. It even has the ability to remain dormant in relatively dry timbers and debris / fragments, that can be found in earth oversights and cellars.

This excerpt below, explains how tenacious Dry Rot (Serpula Lacrymans) can be, even when the wood has dried out:

The fungus is reported to survive in infected wood that has dried out, particularly if drying is slow, when it can form monokaryotic mycelium that develops arthrospores. Survival for a year or longer is reported, provided at temperatures of 20'C or less, although it is reported to die below -6'C. Optimum temperature for growth is around 20–22'C but 26–27'C is tolerated."

We always emphasise the importance of eliminating all moisture ingress and that all building defects be rectified but it is why that sometimes, drying out alone is not a viable method if such that; the area hasn't been thoroughly cleared, the structure has insufficient heating elements, a hindsight for potential future water ingress, time constraints on a project, the in-accessibility to remaining timbers, or simply for the issue of guarantee, then it is often the case we are asked for, or suggest our chemical remediation.

(Below - Dry Rot (Serpula Lacrymans) which we discovered at a Manor in a village local to us, this outbreak was discovered rather late and caused considerable ruin to the timber ground floor, spreading from the basement, it infected and attacked most of the wood panelling too, leading to the entire removal of the timber ground floor across two rooms, at huge repair costs)

With buildings which are listed and considered of cultural and historic importance then remedial treatment may be necessary as first you must weigh up the heritage value of the structure before you begin ripping out, removing and destroying any timbers, decorative features and finishings as the complete eradication of Dry Rot from such grand and historic buildings by removal of all affected and neighboring timber is normally neither realistic, nor is it desirable when the original timber/ fixings/ finishes must be conserved for authenticity.

There are fortunately non-destroying wood fungus species, below is an example of the Coprinus spp that we discovered during a survey at an old almshouse rebuilt in 1863 and later converted into separate apartments.

Looking quite ominous the species of plaster fungus's are not much to worry about and although no damage to timber is caused, the presence of moisture, a leak for example in this case from the unoccupied apartments above, thus indicates conditions for the possible growth of more detrimental species and therefore is recommended these conditions be rectified.

Timber as a source of food?!

Besides many fungus species feeding off wood, using it's sugars and enzymes there are also a wide variety of insects, which most commonly are beetles that thrive on wood as a food source and use timber, in their life cycle.

These beetles have fairly similar life cycles but there are variations in the length of each stage, the species of wood that is attacked and the section of wood, in turn varying the damage caused by each insect. Despite that, there are some species who do not pose a threat.

In Britain there are five species that are usually specified to be treated with an insecticide:

  1. Common furniture beetle
  2. Lyctus powderpost beetles 
  3. House longhorn beetle 
  4. Death-watch beetle 
  5. Ptilinus beetle

These three below are the more common species to cause rather significant damage to the normal types of construction in this country that the average householder will come across, because of their choice of timber and the less specific conditions needed for infestation.

The most well known is 'woodworm' aptly named the Common furniture beetle (Anobium Punctatum) because it is extremely common; being responsible for around 80% of wood-borer damage in the U.K.

Then, there are the Lyctus powderpost beetles (Lyctus Brunneus & L. linearis) although they won't fly into your house like other species, if brought in with new timber installments, the short life cycle means it can achieve a lot of damage once inside.

Lastly, the House Longhorn beetle (Hylotrupes Bajulus), which is presently confined to parts of Surrey & South-east England. The types of wood it attacks means that, if in the unlikely event you have an infestation, it can accomplish extremely extensive damage, particularly softwood roofing timbers.

The other two, Death-watch beetle (Xestobium Rufovillosum) and Ptilinus Pectinicornis, attack more specific species of timber and for this reason, are unusual for the common householder to come across, however they can and will cause extensive damage, such as the death-watch beetle, which can have completely destroyed the timber by the time a survey or inspection has been conducted.

(Below is a wonderful photo exemplifying where we identified Common furniture beetle (Anobium Punctatum) in softwood roof timbers, in a parish village hall, there was sporadic infestation across the whole roof with some more severely attacked, you can see the bore dust in small piles below the flight holes, this suggests that the infestation is still active)

Fire Retardant Treatment:

Following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, serious questions about the fire safety of high rise residential buildings, composite cladding and subsequent other materials, sparked an independent review of building regulations and fire safety which the government announced on the 28 July 2017.

The Industry Response Group was formed to scrutinize existing measures and set about new preventative measures, complementing the work of the Independent Expert Advisory Panel (IEAP), which was established in June prior to the review, by the government to advise on immediate steps to ensure building safety.

We have noticed that in recent years, more architects are specifying the treatment of many timber framed buildings and structures, barn conversions, structural wooden members, decorative features and be it any other flammable items that would be considered to be treated.

With K.T. Preservation being fully qualified to carry out the application of chemicals, via high pressure pumps, the application of this product means that no new strategy had to be implemented. Subsequently we have already completed treatment on two barn conversions for an expert building company with whom we work closely.

We use the fantastic product from Eco-Sol Ltd who have over 30 years experience in Timber and Textile Fire Retardant treatments for domestic and International markets.

Flametect C-WD performs by rapidly converting timber & timber based products to carbon when subjected to a flame or a high intensity heat source.

It is bromine and borate free, non-hazardous, non-toxic, non-corrosive and non-irritant, it is water-based therefore containing no solvents and produced in an ISO quality assured environment to exacting standards.

Flametect C-WD provides a Clear, Colourless and Odourless Impregnation, it will not discolour wood or other wood derived materials. It does not leave a visible sheen and dries to a natural finish... It 'locks in' the flame retardant components using special couplers that protect the flame retardant from harsh environments leaving a weather resistant colourless product once applied & dry.


It should be noted however that painted or varnished woods are not suitable for this product, and would require removing. Also this product is not suitable for upgrading standard to doors to “fire doors”

Typical applications include:

  • Hay and grasses (Tested to BS476 Class 1)
  • Timber Cladding
  • Interior Cladding for restaurants & bars
  • Sheds & Garages
  • Reclaimed Timber Cladding
  • Decking
  • Log Cabins
  • Saunas & Bathrooms
  • Barn Conversions
  • Summer Houses
  • Dried Palm Leaf Internal & External Features In Bars & Restaurants
  • Loft Conversions
  • Timber Sculpture & Artwork

It is easy to apply on site or at manufacture.

View case studies for any further information or a look at our previous contracts and if you have any questions, or are interested in having a survey in relation to anything that has been mentioned above do not hesitate to contact us.

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