The Difference Between Ground-Contact and Above-Ground Pressure Treated Wood: A Comparative Analysis
Pressure treated wood undergoes a preservation process that involves impregnating it with chemicals, typically copper-based solutions.
Wood is a versatile and widely used material in construction and outdoor projects. However, when wood comes into contact with the ground or is exposed to moisture, it is susceptible to decay, rot, and insect infestation.
To combat these issues, pressure treated wood has emerged as a popular choice. This blog aims to explore the key differences between pressure treated wood that can come into contact with the ground and pressure treated wood that cannot. Additionally, we will compare their lifespans with those of untreated wood to understand the benefits of using pressure treated wood in different applications.
1. Understanding Pressure Treated Wood
Pressure treated wood undergoes a preservation process that involves impregnating it with chemicals, typically copper-based solutions. This treatment significantly enhances its durability and resistance to decay, rot, and insects. The level of treatment varies depending on the desired application and the exposure of the wood to moisture and ground contact.
2. Ground-Contact Pressure Treated Wood
Ground-contact pressure treated wood, as the name suggests, is designed specifically for applications where the wood will directly touch the ground. This wood is subjected to a higher level of treatment, increasing its resistance to moisture, decay, and insect damage. It is commonly used for fence posts, retaining walls, and other projects in direct contact with the ground.
3. Above-Ground Pressure Treated Wood
Above-ground pressure treated wood is suitable for applications where the wood is not in direct contact with the ground but may still be exposed to moisture. This wood is treated with chemicals to provide protection against decay, rot, and insects but at a lower level than ground-contact pressure treated wood. It is commonly used for decks, outdoor furniture, and other above-ground structures.
4. Lifespan Comparisons
To truly understand the benefits of pressure treated wood, it is crucial to compare the lifespan of treated wood with that of untreated wood. Untreated wood is vulnerable to moisture, decay, and insect damage, leading to a significantly shorter lifespan. While the exact lifespan of wood depends on various factors such as wood species, environmental conditions, and maintenance, pressure treated wood generally outperforms untreated wood by a substantial margin.
5. Factors Influencing Lifespan
Several factors affect the lifespan of pressure treated wood, regardless of whether it is ground-contact or above-ground grade. These include the quality of treatment, wood species, installation techniques, exposure to sunlight and moisture, and regular maintenance practices. Proper installation, periodic inspections, and timely maintenance can greatly extend the lifespan of pressure treated wood.
Here is a list of the different types of treated wood and how they would be used. The type is determined by the chemicals and amounts used to treat the wood.
UC1 Interior Dry
UC2 Interior Damp UC3A Exterior Above Ground, Coated with Rapid Water Runoff
UC3B Exterior Above Ground, Uncoated or Poor Water Runoff UC4A Ground Contact, General Use UC4B Ground Contact, Heavy Duty
UC4C Ground Contact, Extreme Duty
UC5A Marine Use, Northern Waters (Salt or Brackish Water)
UC5B Marine Use, Central Waters (Salt or Brackish Water)
UC5C Marine Use, Southern Waters (Salt or Brackish Water)
UCFA Interior Above Ground Fire Protection
UCFB Exterior Above Ground Fire Protection
Please be aware that the use of all treated wood, including cutting and sanding, requires the use of a dust mask and eye protection because of the chemicals in the wood.
Pressure treated wood, whether ground-contact or above-ground grade, provides significant advantages over untreated wood in terms of durability, resistance to decay and insects, and overall lifespan. Ground-contact pressure treated wood is specifically designed to withstand direct contact with the ground, while above-ground pressure treated wood is suitable for above-ground applications with moisture exposure. By using pressure treated wood in the appropriate applications and adopting proper maintenance practices, builders and homeowners can ensure long-lasting structures and outdoor projects.