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Ask the Expert: How Do I Protect My Home’s Wood Against Its Most Common Threats?

Sponsored by Perma-Chink Systems, Inc.

Across Europe, Asia, and the U.S., there are many wooden structures that are centuries old. Such houses have a reputation of longevity, and yet, wood is an organic material that, left on its own, could rot. For a log or timber frame home to endure, you must protect it from decay. With the right knowledge and products, doing so is easy and affordable.

Common Threats to a Log Home

Insects, water, and mold are wood’s most common threats. The cycle of decay begins with insects that eat or chew through wood, such as wood-boring beetles, carpenter bees, and termites. As they chomp through your home’s wood, they can compromise the wood’s structural integrity and create entryways for water. When exposed to moisture for an extended period, the wood becomes weak and susceptible to fungi and mildew, collectively known as molds. Molds can cause harm in ways ranging from discoloration to serious structural damage.

A Smart Solution

Boron salts, collectively known as borates, can protect wood and be an effective preventative against wood-eating insects. There’s an entire science behind how borates work. For the short version, when an insect ingests borate-infused wood, the borates stop the cellular production of the enzymes that comprise the insect’s digestive system.
Numerous borate solutions are available on the market. At Perma-Chink, we make our own formula, Shell-Guard®. Our distinct formula contains glycol, which helps transfer the borate faster and deeper into the wood. This is a critical distinction. The deeper a borate solution can penetrate the timber, the more fortified that timber will be against insects.
Shell-Guard is very safe. In fact, table salt is more toxic than Shell-Guard. Borates come with another ancillary benefit. Although they are not labeled as such, they have fire-retardant properties.

Treating the Untreated

Borate solutions must be applied to clean, bare wood such as new builds. Don’t overlook wood fences or inside the inevitable checks that appear in logs and timbers over time. The solution is applied after cleaning the wood and before applying the stain or finish. Not only is Shell-Guard easy to use, but it only needs to be applied once, as long as a homeowner maintains the exterior finish. You can take comfort knowing Shell-Guard will not affect the color of the stain or finish in any way.
We offer two different versions of Shell-Guard. Our Shell-Guard Concentrate formula costs less. It’s easy to use and prepare. For those who want an even more convenient, off-the-shelf product we have Shell-Guard RTU, a ready-to-use formula.
Sometimes homeowners equate more with better. With Shell-Guard, this is not the case. If a solution is too strong or the wood is really dense, the solution may evaporate before the wood is able to absorb it all, leaving behind a light residue. There is no cause for concern, this is like a salt lick left at the bottom of a lake that dries out. Simply rinse off the residue with water. If this residue is not washed before a stain or finish is applied, it will prevent the finish from adhering, which can lead to staining.

Extra Prevention

What about logs and timbers that are already stained? There is a way to get some extra fortification into wood that is more prone to decay (e.g. logs that are close to the ground or log ends and corners). In these cases, crystallized borate rods, such as Cobra™ Rods can help. The borate and copper complex in these 2-inch long rods deters insects and eliminates any current and future fungi decay activity.
Another borate product to consider is a powder. Our Armor-Guard®  can be used as a powder or dissolved in water. Unlike Shell-Guard, Armor-Guard does not contain glycol. Edges of crawl spaces, inside checking, stud wall cavities, flooring, and log fencing are all excellent candidates for Armor-Guard. Plus, it’s always good to have some on hand for quick and easy spot treatments.
Why not make your timber or log home one that lasts for years? Perma-Chink Systems products are formulated to work as a system or on their own to defend your home and keep it looking like the dream you intended for today and decades to come.

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Sponsored by Perma-Chink Systems, Inc.

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