Borates are one of the most affordable ways to protect your log home. You’re basically buying low-cost home insurance. That’s a no-brainer! These preservative products are designed to protect your wood from rot and wood-ingesting insects. Adding this affordable step at the beginning can save you headaches down the road, including the time and money it costs to replace damaged wood.
Mildew vs. Algae: Mildew growth on a log railing spindle…or is it algae? What is that black stuff growing on my house? Mildew, right? Well…maybe not.(more…)
In this month’s “Here to help!”, we’re breaking down borates to help you deal with unwanted creepy-crawlies and other “rot ‘en” dilemmas.
There are two kinds of wood — wood that is rotten, and wood that one day will be rotten. This statement may seem a bit extreme, but it is a fact. Wood is a product of nature and its nature is to return to the earth in a natural process. But don’t despair, there are time- and field-tested ways to protect the integrity of your log home so you can enjoy it for years to come. The most effective way to do that is with the use of borates.
Borates have been used to preserve wood for years. With increased knowledge and more demand for less toxic products, borates have steadily grown in popularity with homeowners just like you.
Borates are a naturally occurring mineral that prevent wood from becoming a viable food source for wood-ingesting insects, as well us fungi. Without question, they are effective. Confusion sometimes comes in when deciding between water-carried borate and glycol-based borate products. Here’s a breakdown from someone who knows borates: Dr. Mark Noirot, Ph.D., formerly with U.S. Borax. He took an in-depth look to provide you the 411 on the best bets when it comes to surface application of borates.
“As borates become more widely used for remedial preservative spray treatments of log homes, many studies have tried to prove one borate solution is better than another. While some reported tests may have suggested this, a thorough and comprehensive study by U. S. Borax of two leading borate solutions, Tim-Bor® (a powder concentrate that is mixed with water) and Bora-Care® (a glycol and borate solution), shows there is little or no difference in their depth of penetration into wood and, hence, their effectiveness. We found that both products penetrate and protect wood surfaces equally. Any reported variation in effectiveness shown in prior studies is most likely the result of inaccurate test methods previously used and not actual differences in the products themselves.
To achieve real accuracy, differences in moisture and condition of the wood must be controlled as much as possible, as well as the application of the borate solution and drying conditions. Test results should be reproducible and should not have very large statistical variations. The only way to get reliable results is to conduct the test an extensive number of times and to control the test elements as much as possible. U. S. Borax’s test has produced the most statistically reproducible and reliable results yet.
When conducting a test with wood, the one most uncontrollable factor is the wood itself. With differences in soil, climate and other conditions greatly affecting the makeup of any tree, even two pieces of wood from the same tree can be dramatically different. Any cracks, knots or other irregularities in the wood will let any solution seep into the wood more easily. Also, the level of moisture in the wood can help influence how deep the solvents and borate can penetrate. Because of these factors, great care must be taken in selecting wood for testing. In our test, we used Southern Yellow Pine and Spruce-Pine-Fir (S-P-F) boards. We hand-selected boards two inches thick and six inches wide with as few irregularities as possible. We cut the boards into 2’ sections, labeled and paired the adjacent sections, then sealed the ends with silicone to avoid edge effects. Each piece’s moisture content was measured three times, and then averaged. The yellow pine boards were 95 percent sapwood or greater and had typically eight to ten growth rings per radial inch.
Next, one board from each pair was sprayed with a Tim-bor® solution (which is a solution with 10.5 percent content of disodium octaborate tetrahydrate [DOT] ), then sprayed again 24 hours later. The other was sprayed with a diluted Bora-Care® solution (a solution with 20.1 percent DOT). We applied each according to their respective label instructions. After treatment, all boards were stored in plastic containers with controlled humidity and relative temperatures. These conditions, though sometimes forcing the wood to dry more rapidly than normal, provided a constant, uniform condition for testing. By controlling both drying and wood surfaces, we worked to ensure our test was both accurate and readily reproduced.
After six weeks, we trimmed all the boards by 3″ on each end and by 0.7″ on the sides again, to avoid edges effects. Shavings from these boards were then dried and analyzed for their boron content. From these shavings, we concluded that borate molecules from each solution penetrated the wood at equal rates and in equal amounts. The borates in the wood are most likely identical in their makeup. While Bora-Care® starts off with larger borate molecules combined with glycol, these molecules must break down into the same ones used in Tim-bor® before they can penetrate the wood. The glycol added to Bora-Care® probably has little, if any, actual benefit in helping the borates get into the wood. In dry wood, these studies conclusively show that no borate can be expected to penetrate deeper than 1/2″ or slightly deeper into the wood. Any claims that remedial borate treatments can penetrate to the core of a dried log are incorrect.
So, what are the differences between the two preservatives? Bora-Care® uses ethylene glycol and Tim-bor® does not. While ethylene glycol does not improve the product’s effectiveness, it is a regulated volatile organic compound (VOC) that can contaminate water sources if not properly applied and disposed of. It is also expensive, adding significant cost without the additional effectiveness. The tests conducted by U.S. Borax are arguably the most sensitive ones performed to date. The rate at which Tim-bor® and Bora-Care® penetrated the wood samples is the same, yet Tim-bor® contains fewer VOCs and costs considerably less. Tim-bor® is the smarter choice all around.
Tim-bor® and Bora-Care® are registered trademarks of their respective owners.
Borate wood treatments are a big deal. In this month’s Experts Corner, our favorite Southeast Territory Manager, Paul Peebles, breaks down the 411 on borates.
Capture the Timeless Beauty of Natural Grain
Don’t compromise at the end of a long and arduous journey by using an inferior stain not designed for logs. Capture and Cascade deliver performance worthy of the journey that got you here.
Available in 11 popular colors.
Backer Materials that Seal Things Right the First Time Backer Rod, Grip Strip, and Log Gap Cap all help you create the ideal joint desing for a long-lasting, durable seal
Logs are in constant dynamic motion. That's why there's Log Builder®, the sealant made for log structures. Stretches up to 500% of original size, while still maintaining tenacious adhesion to the wood.
When other chinking pulls away, Log Jam holds its seal With Log Jam chinking, you can keep the cozy feel and rustic look of a log home without compromising comfort and performance.
Available in 8 popular colors.
Easy to Use - Hard to See Keep out weather, bugs, and moisture without seeing it. Conceal disappears into the woodwork so you don't know the wood starts and the caulk begins.
Available in 7 popular colors.
It's Music to the Eyes Symphony works in harmony with the unique character of your logs and wood to reflect an atmosphere or cozy warmth and elegance while creating and scuff-resistant and durable surface that's easy to dust.
The Easiest Stain to Maintain Transformation Siding & Trim is the no-peel, easy-to-maintain stain for your siding, trim, and decks.
Restore What Nature Destroyed
Bring old, damaged, gray and weathered logs back to life with this flexible oil-based semi-transparent stain
Right Color. Right Quantity. Right Now. Never run out of stain at the jobsite again. Stock exactly what you need in your truck or trailer at the jobsite.
Maintenance Made Easy Now that Capture® Log Stain is applied, it’s time for Cascade® Clear Topcoat to bring out the depth and character of your unique woodgrain while protecting it against moisture, mildew, and algae. Predictable and affordable routine maintenance with Cascade throughout the years means your home stays protected and beautiful. Easy!
Keep the Color the Color Colorfast delivers the ideal canvas for stain application and leaves behind the strong foundation necessary for long-lasting color. It’s color confidence for your log home.
Rot, weather, insects, fungi all pose a serious threat to your logs. Protect your investment—treat your logs first to make them last. Tim-bor® helps protect your home from the costly damage caused by rot and insect infestation.
Remove Wood Felting and Raised Grain Remove wood fuzz (called felting) after power washing or media blasting, and knock down excessive raised grain with Sashco's finish sanding tools
Clean and brighten bare logs and wood, remove surface dirt, pollen, and kill mold for maintenance, and keep your logs looking fresh with CPR Log Cleaner and Brightener
The Serious Fix for Concrete Cracks Just say no to cracks
Textured like mortar - stretches like rubber
It's easy, it's fast, and it works.
Available in 5 popular colors.
The sealant that integrates into your design.
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Mold is gross. Stop feeding it.
Available in white and almond.
Won't Crack...It just stretches
All homes move - Big Stretch moves with them.
Available in 12 popular colors, and clear.
Seals leaks that asphalt can't
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The Tough Elastic Sealant For Every Job
Sticks To Most Anything
Available in clear and white.