Field performance of durable Canadian wood products

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Extending the service life of wood products creates value for the end user and increases the duration of carbon storage.

As a natural product, wood will biodegrade when exposed to conditions that support decay or insect attack. Many technologies have been proposed, developed, and commercialized for increasing resistance to biodegradation and thereby extending service life. This is the basis of Canada’s pressure treatment industry, which includes 53 certified treatment plants spread across all regions of the country. These operations provide critical industrial infrastructure, such as utility poles and railway ties, as well as residential products, such as decking and fencing.

Need for field performance data

The market for wood protection technologies continues to evolve due to new product innovations as well as regulatory pressure. As new technologies are developed, field performance data are needed to determine product efficacy and to define the limits of their use. This includes determining the optimal retention and penetration of a preservative, as well as assessing appropriate end uses (e.g., above ground or ground contact).

Test sites across Canada

With support from Natural Resources Canada, FPInnovations operates four field test sites in Canada representing different climates and biodegradation hazards.

  • Our Maple Ridge, British Columbia test site is within the University of British Columbia’s Malcolm Knapp Research Forest. It has a temperate coastal climate with a significant soft rot hazard in ground contact.

fpi 5jan23 2Field test of L-joints in Maple Ridge, British Columbia.

  • Our test site within the Petawawa Research Forest in Ontario is our oldest site, with some material in test for over 80 years. This site has a continental climate with aggressive basidiomycete fungi.

fpi 5jan23 3Field test of posts in Petawawa, Ontario.

  • Our Kincardine, Ontario test site is home to a colony of eastern subterranean termites. These termites are present in many locations in southern Ontario and are anticipated to expand their range with a changing climate.

fpi 5jan23 4Termites attacking a control specimen in Kincardine, Ontario.

  • Our Quebec test site is within the Université Laval’s Montmorency Forest and provides field testing for above-ground applications in an eastern Canadian climate.

fpi 5jan23 5Field test of wood siding in the Montmorency Forest, Quebec.

Publications and more information

Performance data from FPInnovations’ field tests are regularly published to support registration, standardization, and market acceptance of wood protection technologies. Most recently, we published an InfoNote on the performance of protection technologies for shakes and shingles. This research validated the long-term performance of CCA treatments and demonstrated that newer treatments (copper azole and alkaline copper quaternary) would also be effective in this application.

Visit our online library to view more publications on wood protection technologies.

We offer an array of laboratory and field tests to assess the performance of wood protection technologies. For more information, view this handy reference or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., manager of FPInnovations’ Biomaterials group.

Source: FPInnovations