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Laboratory durability testing of preservative-treated wood products

Recently, certain European standards have allowed for the classification of the biological durability of chemically modified wood and preservative-treated wood, including treated products, but necessary methods for representative sampling and testing are lacking. Instead of sampling from products that can contain areas of varying durability, this study aimed at testing full-size products. Sections of untreated and preservative-treated terrace decking and palisades were incubated with pure cultures of brown and white rot fungi. Instead of mass loss, the decayed cross-sectional area was determined. The spatial distribution of decay and wood moisture content was investigated. After 16 weeks of incubation, all untreated product specimens showed signs of decay independent of the test fungus. The treated specimens were less affected. The mean and the maximum decayed cross-sectional areas were well correlated, for both the total and the sapwood cross-sections. The wood moisture content after incubation was always favorable for fungal decay, but highest where the specimens were in direct contact with the malt agar. Different infestation pathways became evident: (1) from the sapwood mantle, (2) via radial checks, and (3) from the end-grain. The latter should be prevented in order to better mimic real outdoor exposure conditions.

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