How To Tell If Wood Is Treated – 7 Signs To Look For

Wood is a versatile and widely used material in construction, furniture making, and various other industries. However, not all wood is equal. Some wood may use chemicals or preservatives to enhance its durability and resistance to decay, pests, and weathering.

Knowing whether or not wood has been treated is crucial in determining its safety, potential uses, and maintenance requirements. As consumers, we must know the type of wood we purchase or use in our homes or businesses. Here, we will explore the various ways to identify if wood has been treated and the potential risks associated with using treated wood. So, let’s dive in and learn how to tell if wood is treated.

How To Tell If Wood Is Treated

What Does Treated Wood Mean?

Knowing what treated wood means is important if you’re considering buying wood. Wood treatment requires a safe, nontoxic sealant that protects it from weathering mould and fungus growth. This treatment also inhibits moisture absorption, making treated wood resistant to rotting and insects.

The brighter colour of treated wood may change over colour over time. It becomes a darker hue because of the absorption by the cellulose fibres. Untreated woods will always retain their natural colour, whereas treated woods can range from light brown to dark brown or black.

7 Sign To Know And Tell If The Wood Is Treated

7 Sign To Know And Tell If The Wood Is Treated

Wood is an essential material for our daily work. Not only does it provide structural support, but it’s also a natural resource that we can use to create many different items. If you’re looking to buy wood, it’s important to know if it went through treatment. Untreated wood may be unsafe for your home or business and cause health problems. There are seven easy signs to tell if the wood is treated:

1.Wet Wood

If someone treated the wood with a water-repellent, it probably became wet. This will help to protect the wood from fungus, decay, and other pests. If carpenters did the wood treatment process on-site, it would likely result in a strong odour, and you may see it as discoloured. The wood won’t feel as smooth as untreated wood, and pressure applied to it might warp or crack.

2.It’s Slimy

It's Slimy

Any wood not treated with a sealer or varnish will be slippery to grip and move around. Paint, stain, or any chemical treatment on the wood can make it difficult to handle. If the wood smells unpleasant, it’s probably because someone has treated it with chemicals somehow.

And if you can scratch the surface – which indicates the signs of untreated one. Then, you should avoid using this borate lumber industry in your outdoor project altogether, as it could be dangerous.

3.There Are Insects On It

Insects can be a real nuisance in wood garden furniture. Look for splotches, brown patches, or lines on the wood – insects cause this. The wood you’re looking at may get an insecticide treatment. If so, it’s important to be cautious. Treated wood is much more toxic than one without treatment. It’s also worth noting that treated wood may not last as long as untreated wood since it’s vulnerable to warping and rotting.

4.The Wood Smells Bad

The Wood Smells Bad

If the wood you use for your projects smells bad, it signs some chemical treatment. This treatment can do several things: make the wood more durable and less prone to breaking, change its colour (usually towards a yellow or brown hue), and increase its fragrance.

However, all these benefits come at a price – the treated wood is usually brittle, doesn’t hold shape as well as untreated wood, and might even emit an unpleasant odour. It will easily break apart if you try to cut or scratch it.

5.The Wood Color Change

When we treat any wood, it will change colour from its natural colour to a darker colour. This darker colour is often popularly popular by the name “staining.” It is also more moisture and decay-resistant, making it a good choice for some applications.

Treated lumber may be available in several colours: white, light brown, red oak, mahogany, black walnut, and birch. Treated lumber usually contains a chemical treatment that darkens the wood’s surface. The amount of colouring will depend on the type of treatment we use and the stage of the wood’s life cycle.

6.The Wood Changes Its Size

The Wood Changes Its Size

The easiest way to identify the treated wood is to examine it visually. If the flame-retardant wood has a dull, non-reflective appearance, it most likely went through a treatment with a sealant or finish. Other signs of exterior wood treatment include a change in size or colour and increased moisture levels.

You may even find the combustible wood infested with insects and other pests that will cause damage. Treated feet of wood, however, do not shrink or crack when they dry out and are free of insect and pest infestation.

7.It Doesn’t Feel Smooth

It may disappoint you if you’re looking for a piece of furniture with a smooth, soft feel. Most pressure-treating wood treated with chemicals and pressure-treated dimensional lumber (PTL) will have a rough or bumpy surface due to the treatment process.  In addition, the combustible wood might smell bad or exhibit other signs of treatment.

This is because PTL creates toxic byproducts that can leach into the environment. It’s important to note that if you want to refinish any piece of furniture treated with PTL lumber, remove all traces of the treatment before proceeding. This way, your new finish will not contain harmful toxins and won’t cause any adverse effects on your health or environmental surroundings.

How To Treat And Protect Wooden Furniture

How To Treat And Protect Wooden Furniture

Wooden furniture is a beautiful and timeless piece that can last for years. However, taking care of it and protecting it from damage is important. Some ways to do this include treating it with a sealant or paint or using a protectant like lacquer or polyurethane resin. If you’re thinking of treating your wooden furniture with a sealant or wax, then here are some tips to help you get it correctly:

  • Dust wooden furniture regularly to prevent buildup and scratches
  • Clean spills and stains immediately using a mild soap and water solution
  • Avoid placing hot or wet items directly on the surface of wooden furniture
  • Use coasters or placemats to protect the CCA-treated wood from heat, moisture, and scratches
  • Apply a protective coat of furniture polish or wax regularly to maintain the wood’s lustre
  • Keep wooden furniture away from direct sunlight to prevent fading and warping
  • Use felt pads or furniture glides under the legs to prevent scratches on the floor
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners that can damage the woo

Tips For Safely Handling And Disposing Of Treated Wood

Tips For Safely Handling And Disposing Of Treated Wood

Conducting a visual inspection allows one to determine if wood is created. Treated wood has a distinct appearance, with a greenish or brownish tint. This is a result of the chemicals handy in the treatment process. Additionally, treated wood may have visible signs of treatment, such as drill holes or cut ends treated with a sealant.

  • Wear protective gloves and clothing when handling treated dark wood to avoid direct skin contact.
  • Use tools with dust collection systems or wear a dust mask to prevent inhalation of wood markings dust.
  • Avoid burning treated chunks of wood, as it can release toxic fumes. Dispose of it properly at a designated facility.
  • Do not use regular wood treated for projects that come into contact with food or for indoor use.
  • Store treated Natural wood in a dry and well-ventilated area to prevent further chemical leaching.
  • Consider using alternative, untreated types of wood for projects that do not require treated wood.


knowing how to identify treated wood is an important skill for anyone working with wood, whether for construction projects, furniture making, or simply for DIY projects. By understanding the different types of treatment and the signs to look for, you can ensure your projects’ safety purposes and quality.

Remember always to be cautious when handling wood that may be treated and to consult a professional if you are unsure. Always consult a professional if you’re unsure or have concerns about treated normal wood. With this knowledge, you can confidently proceed with your woodworking projects and create beautiful, safe, and long-lasting pieces.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Determine If A Piece Of Wood Is Treated?

You can determine this by looking for signs such as a greenish or brownish tint, visible surface treatments like paint or sealants, or a stamped marking indicating treatment.

How Can You Tell If Wood Is Treated In The K?

You can determine if wood is treated in the UK by checking for signs of treatment, such as a greenish tint or a shiny appearance on the surface.

What Colour Is Treated Wood?

Treated wood can come in various colours, often green or brown. These colours are typically the result of the chemicals handy during the treatment process to protect the type of wood from decay, insects, and other damage.

What Are The Markings On Pressure-Treated Wood?

The markings on pressure-treated wood products typically include stamps or labels indicating the type of wood fibre treatment used, the level of treatment, and any relevant safety information.

What Number Treats Wood?

The number system typically identifies the treatment level that treated wood has undergone. This number can range from 1 to 4, with higher numbers indicating a higher level of treatment.

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