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Is Pressure-Treated Wood Safe?


Pole barns are often constructed with pressure-treated wood to help them resist damage caused by moisture, rot, and insects. Pressure-treated wood is made by putting the wood in a tank, removing all the air, and then infusing it with a preservative under high pressure to force it deep into the wood. This extends the wood’s lifespan and makes it unattractive to insects and fungus.

Safety Concerns about Pressure-Treated Wood


Until 2003, pressure-treated wood was made with chromate copper arsenate (CCA), which is a highly toxic chemical. Over 20 years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency created guidelines for the manufacturing of the chemical. Studies in the 1980s had mixed results regarding the toxicity of wood treated with CCA. The wood industry agreed to voluntarily stop using CCA for residential applications.

Modern pressure-treated wood is made using different chemicals that are less toxic, such as amine copper quat (ACQ) and copper azole (CA). Some other chemicals are used in different areas. These chemicals are considered safer than products with arsenic because the human body cannot absorb them the way it can absorb arsenic.

Copper-based chemicals used in pressure-treated wood are as good as arsenic-based preservatives, but they cost more. Some manufacturers are lowering the price by reducing the amount of preservative in boards used for some applications.

Building with Pressure-Treated Wood


Pressure-treated wood is corrosive to steel and aluminum. You should use hangers and ties that are rated for pressure-treated wood. Cover aluminum flashing with a layer of non-corrosive tar paper or non-permeable plastic sheets to avoid contact with wood.

If you cut pressure-treated wood, lay a plastic tarp under the saw horses. This will make cleanup easier and will protect the grass from the chemicals. Pre-drill nail or screw holes within an inch of the ends of the boards to prevent the wood from splitting.

Using pressure-treated wood for your pole barn can extend its life by protecting it from rot and insects. Pressure-treated wood is safe. Use galvanized nails or screws that are designed to be used with the wood.

If you are looking for the right pole barn design, you can find it from The Pole Barn Company. We offer pole barns in a variety of sizes and styles to suit your needs. Contact us today so we can help you choose the right design.

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