Less-toxic treated lumber
I’m building a house in Puerto Rico. I’ve been told that, because of the tropical climate and the termites, the house should be constructed of treated lumber, exterior and interior, including trim, etc.
David L. Clarke, Cape May, NJ
Contributing editor Scott Gibson replies: Termites are a problem in the Caribbean, so using treated wood is a good idea. One solution is wood that’s been pressure treated with chromated copper arsenate—the familiar green-colored lumber. Another option, especially for wood that is to be used inside, is wood that’s been treated with borate preservatives.
Borates are effective against termites and other insects and fungi but won’t change the color or workability of wood. According to the USDA’s Forest Service, borates aren’t hazardous. But borates can leach out of wood that is exposed. So the lumber can’t be used where it’s in contact with the ground or with masonry (like a mudsill, for instance), and it shouldn’t be used outside unless it’s covered by a roof or a finish.
Borate-treated wood is sold in the Caribbean under the Tim-Bor or Cari-Bor trademarks. It’s not widely available in the United States. For more information, contact U. S. Borax, Inc., 26877 Tourney Road, Valencia, Calif. 91355; (805) 287-5400.