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Treated Wood: The Smart Choice

North America is fortunate to possess expansive forests that can provide the lumber used to support the United States’ wood-based infrastructure. Yet while the supply of wood may be plentiful, it is not unlimited.

KMG’s wood treating chemicals significantly extend the lives of wood products used in industrial applications, increasing their lifespans not by a handful of years, but by multiple decades. The longevity of treated wood is a tremendous asset and benefit to our forests, as far fewer trees must be harvested, processed and transported to meet the market’s steady demand for utility poles and railroad ties.

The scope of this advantage becomes clear when taking into account the size of the United States’ freight-based rail system (the largest, by far, in the world) and the more than 40 million wood utility poles that support our extensive electric power and communications transmission systems. Treated wood really is the smart and environmentally-friendly choice.

Did you know?

  • Wood railroad ties treated with Creosote can last an average of 30-35 years.
  • Valued for its cost-effectiveness, longevity and performance, Creosote has been applied to wooden railroad ties since the mid-1800s. In fact, the United States’ transcontinental railroad was built – quite literally – on beds of creosote-treated ties.
  • Creosote-treated railroad ties will maintain their shape over many years despite temperature fluctuations, vibration and compression.
  • Creosote-treated railroad ties and Penta-treated utility poles resist termites and prevent damage from fungi.
  • Wood utility poles treated with Penta last an average of 20-25 years. But it’s not uncommon for a properly maintained Penta-treated utility pole to last more than 50 years.
  • When Creosote-treated railroad ties and Penta-treated utility poles reach the end of their useful lives, the wood is often used as a biomass fuel source.
  • A recent cradle-to-grave life cycle assessment of Penta-treated wooden utility poles concluded that such poles offer lower fossil fuel and water use and environmental impacts over their entire lifecycle than similar products manufactured of concrete and steel.