Eastman Drops Perennial Wood Decking Line
The Eastman Chemical Co. is throwing in the towel on Perennial Wood, a line of outdoor wood products preserved through acetylation rather than pressure treatment with more familiar copper-rich chemical formulations and has been distributed in the Northeast and South Atlantic regions.
The Kingsport, Tenn., company introduced Perennial Wood just two years ago at the 2012 International Builders’ Show. Eastman announced at the end of January that it would discontinue the product line, leaving the acetylated-lumber business in the U.S. solely to Accoya.
“A lot of talented Eastman employees and external partners worked very hard on this project, and this outcome is not a reflection of their dedication or hard work,” Eastman Vice President Tim Dell said in a prepared statement. “Additionally, this decision was not made based on product performance, but rather on the challenging economics of the product market.”
American consumers are used to softwood decking that’s been pressure treated with chemicals such as ACQ or copper azole, which replaced the more toxic chromated-copper arsentate at the start of 2004. Perennial Wood was one of several brands of acetylated or thermally modified wood that promised long-term protection from the elements without the use of heavy metals.
The process combined heat, presssure, and an organic compound called acetic anhydride, which Eastman liked to point out is also used to make products ranging from eyeglass frames to toothbrushes. The treatment process, which Eastman called “TruLast Technology,” made wood less likely to shrink and swell, and somewhat denser than untreated wood. Treated wood also was 25% harder than untreated lumber.
Acetylated lumber would seem a perfect fit as consumers get more interested in green building and the less-toxic building products that come with it. But the decking, porch flooring, and railing that Eastman produced at its Tennessee plant apparently didn’t catch on with homeowners or builders quickly enough to make the company’s investment worthwhile.
“It was really gaining market acceptance,” an Eastman spokeswoman said, “but the company felt that the economic return on investment would just take too long to realize.”