For infrastructure uses, preserved wood has been a workhorse supporting many essential parts of American commerce. Some of the first preserved wood products were used in the shipping industry, from marine pilings supporting docks to the treated wood ties lying beneath thousands of miles of steel rails that ribbon our country.
When industries and communities needed durable materials that could hold up against the most demanding conditions, the preserved wood industry responded. They produced preservative treated timbers and beams to construct bridges, as well as pilings for ports and docks. Wood guard rail posts helped minimize damages and deaths caused by vehicle accidents.
Preserved wood products continue as the top choice in the commercial and infrastructure sector, offering the balance of a safe, strong, easy-to-work-with product that is exceptionally cost competitive to alternative materials.
See more about how preserved wood can be used in commercial/industrial applications below.
Preservative treated timber bridges have a long history of providing creative and sustainable design options for railroad, vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Timber bridges built with preserved wood provide an environmental and cost-effective solution, thanks to preservatives that protect the wood from degradation and significantly extend the durability and service life of the structure.
According to the 2013 National Bridge Inventory, there were more than 23,500 timber bridges in use in the U.S. and another 25,000 steel bridges which have timber decks.
Older timber bridges, in particular those constructed as covered bridges, are endeared as representative of American culture and heritage. The National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges has cataloged thousands of covered timber bridges throughout the world and actively advocates the preservation of these structures.
Businesses and commercial enterprises understand that the rich warmth and texture of wood creates an inviting welcome for customers. But they also appreciate the value of a product that offers both aesthetics as well as a long service life.
Preserved wood can meet both of these demands easily and is found in the facades of commercial buildings, the lamp posts in an outdoor mall and the balconies and open timbers in an upscale hotel.
Building codes also recognize the business community's desire to use preserved wood and have created specific requirements guiding the use of these products in commercial structures. These requirements protect not only public safety, but aid in promoting the longevity of such structures.
For decades, highway guardrails supported by preserved wood posts have kept the country's driving public safe. These posts balance the need for cost-effective highway construction with inherent safety performance. Unlike more rigid materials such as steel or concrete, wood guardrail posts provide resiliency that can absorb and dissipate the energy in vehicle accidents, minimizing injuries while keeping other lanes safe.
With a ready supply available, replacement posts can be put in place quickly to keep traffic on roads running smoothly.
Railroads are an essential part of the American economy, moving millions of tons of goods and materials effectively and economically. The rails on which these trains travel are supported by rugged, resilient preserved wood rail ties.
Treated with creosote, these ties stand up to the rigorous conditions ranging from the icy winters of the northeast to the arid climates of the southwest deserts. They easily handle the tremendous tonnage of loaded rail cars that pound across the rails.
While other materials have attempted supplant wood, preserved wood ties continue to be the choice of railroads in North America thanks to its performance and cost effectiveness.
Marine pilings provide the critical infrastructure for ports and shipping docks, thanks to preserved wood that has remained sound after many decades in place.
Exposure to salt water and marine borers pose some of the most destructive threats for any building material. Preserved wood specifically treated for marine exposure enjoys a long record of performance against waterborne threats.
Responding to today's concerns about chemical exposure to the environment, the preserved wood industry has created tools for developers, engineers and designers that help assess potential releases of preservatives from treated products. For additional information, please see the Aquatics section.
The safety and durability of preserved wood is showcased in its many uses in the agriculture industry. Preserved wood stakes are used in supporting a variety of vined crops, from wine grapes to berries and vegetables.
Fences built using preserved wood offer sturdy boundaries for herds, while at the same time creating attractive landscapes. Outbuildings and open-sided shelters for crops utilize preserved wood to create structures well suited to withstand the elements.