14th November, 2017

Is Plastic Lumber a Bridge Over Troubled Water?

Barforce Reinforced Recycled Plastic LumberWhen preserved wood is used for in-water construction such as pilings, break walls, abutments, or even a bridge (especially over troubled waters), the potential exists for the toxic preservatives to leach from the wood, into the water posing a threat to water quality and marine life.  In fact, preserved wood has long been banned from use where it comes into contact with drinking water.

Wood preservatives are chemical pesticides applied to prevent decay from fungi or insects. While preservatives can be brushed on, sprayed on, or soaked into wood, the most effective treatment is to force preservative solutions deeply into the wood under high pressure.  These chemical preservatives include creosote, pentachlorophenol, and inorganic arsenicals such as chromated copper arsenate (CCA) – ALL of which pose some level of toxicity when used in water construction.

Growing scrutiny and concern over the use of preserved wood led the American Wood Preservers’ Association (AWPA) — a professional/technical society serving the wood preservation industry – to develop the WPA Book of Standards to guide the use of preserved wood products and to try to minimize the harmful effects of pesticide leeching.  Now, only chemically treated wood bearing a stamp, tag or brand certifying it for use in in-water construction is recommended for use.  So, where can you confidently source pressure treated lumber that meets this standard?  Good question!

Plastic Lumber: Better and Safer for Water.

Unlike pressure treated wood, plastic lumber’s resistance to decay is not derived from toxic chemicals like pesticides.  Plastic lumber used for pilings, timber, or decking is simply unsuitable for most fungi or insects to thrive in or on.  It does not leech chemicals, it lasts longer, holds its original appearance and is a sensible, sustainable alternative to chemically treated wood.  When planning large structures impacting smaller bodies of water, sensitive habitat or where children and families are present, plastic lumber is absolutely vital.

Bedford Technology’s SeaPile® and SeaTimber®, which has rapidly become the leading choice for coastal and intercoastal marine structures where durability and ROI are critical considerations, is made from sustainable, recycled plastic materials – like milk jugs – and won’t rot, splinter, split nor leech harmful chemicals.

For inland waters, docks, decking and every other in-water construction operation, check out Bedford’s SelectForce ® and FiberForce ® lines which have textured surface finishes and come in a variety of colors.  The strength, durability and impact-resistance of plastic lumber from Bedford Technology will outlast and outperform pressure treated lumber in any wet environment.  That means less maintenance and a better ROI for waterfront contractors and developers.  It’s also a safer and more sustainable bet for aquatic life, water quality AND for us humans that enjoy both.

Learn more about plastic lumber from Bedford Technology here.