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Extensive timber durability trial underway

11 November 2020

A research project led FWPA’s National Centre for Timber Durability and Design Life has commenced a testing program for materials used in Hazard Class H3, which covers applications that are outside, above ground and exposed to the weather. The project represents the first time in 30 years that such a range of species, products and preservatives has been tested.

The team wanted to develop information on the durability performance of the tested materials in engineering terms that could be used to enhance the CSIRO Service Life Prediction Models, developed more than 20 years ago by Dr Robert Leicester.

The original models used field test data obtained from long-term trials conducted across Australia to predict decay occurrence and progress. However, these models were based on a limited data set and did not include many of the treatments currently used for wood in outdoor exposures.

The project aims to create a more accurate understanding of timber properties, which will support structural engineers to appropriately select timber and consequently generate increased usage.

An exceptionally large trial is being established, with support from FWPA, Lesley Francis Research Scientist, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries at DAF, Chris Fitzgerald, Principal Technician at DAF, Stuart Meldrum, Senior Technician at DAF, Jack Norton Senior Principal Scientist at DAF, and Professor Jeff Morrell, Director of the National Centre for Timber Durability and Design Life.

It will test a range of traditional wood preservatives and more recently developed treatments, as well as modified wood products that have altered wood chemistry. These tests will be conducted on plywood, LVL, oriented strandboard and solid wood. Heartwood of spotted gum and merbau (kwila) along with a wood-plastic composite will also be included in the trial.

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Source: FWPA R&D Works

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