Tree of the Month – Radiata Pine
Radiata Pine is a tree which gets a bad reputation because of the softness of its timber, however its ability to be modified gives it amazing new qualities which might surprise you.
The world’s most planted pine
Radiata Pine is now thought to be the world’s most widely planted pine, making up over a quarter of Tasmania’s timber plantations and 89% of New Zealand’s plantations forests.
Radiata Pine is:
- A coniferous evergreen tree
- Widely used in the construction and decorative industries
- 33% heavier than dried Western Red Cedar
- Brittle in nature and so not as effective as Douglas Fir for load bearing
- Relatively soft
- Fine textured
- Low in density – which makes it easy to dry
- A quick grower – just 28 years
- A softwood in origin
- Able to take on preservatives and be chemically modified in a way that many other trees can’t
A long history of modification
Radiata Pine has a long history of being modified. The tanalising process was introduced in the 1940s and devised to make the pine strong enough to use in-ground. However, while the process does strengthen the timber, it doesn’t prevent rotting or movement in the wood.
Transforming ordinary into extraordinary
More recently, British company, Accsys Technology has come up with a new modification process called ‘acetylation’, which transforms softwoods such as Radiata pine into a super wood.
It’s super because the process makes the humble Radiata Pine more stable and more durable than cedar, teak and many other treated softwoods and hardwoods.
What’s even more super is that modified Radiata Pine doesn’t take as long to grow as hardwood trees, making it a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way of working with wood.
So how do they do it?
- Acetylation means that water-attracting hydroxyl elements are taken out of the wood and replaced with acetyl groups
- This process stops the cells in the wood from absorbing water
- No water intake means a more dimensionally stable and rot- and insect-proof product
- Radiata Pine (in its changed form) becomes three times more stable than conventional timber and more long-lasting
- It has a class-1durability rating and a minimal service life of 70 years according to the Timber Research and Development Association
- Modified Radiata Pine from Accsys is made from New Zealand Radiata Pine, because they trim the branches so there are no knots
- To everyone in the industry this wonder product is better known as Accoya®
When the bad boy of timber becomes the best boy in timber
Accoya® not only outperforms cedar, teak and many other treated softwoods and hardwoods, it is non-toxic, 100% recyclable and fast-growing too, which means Accoya® can be created from well-managed sustainable sources rather than tropical forests that leave behind a trail of deforestation.
Accoya® also remains CO2 negative over its full lifecycle and boasts greater thermal insulation giving it environmental advantages even when in situ.
Windows and doors made with Accoya® won’t move, won’t warp and they won’t crack. When combined with high-tech paint systems, which make the timber impermeable to the elements, Accoya® products can last a lifetime and because the timber is stable, users won’t even have to repaint their products for 10+ years.
And all this from a pine tree that has been associated for too long as being a bit of a softy. So when looking for windows, doors and joinery, make sure you look for the Accoya® symbol – it’s the wood of choice at Westbury.