The potential of silicone-based formulations to enhance wood properties through industrial treatment for outdoor use
F Simon, F Marchal, F Pochon, M Kutnik, I Le Bayon
High hygroscopicity is one of the main weaknesses of wood as far as its susceptibility to biodegradation, and specifically to fungal decay. New wood preservation technologies are constantly entering the wood protection market, competing with traditional, biocide-based preservation. Silicones are commercially used as hydrophobic agents on stones and concrete. They belong to the restricted number of products that demonstrate a potential to protect wood through non-biocidal chemistry that increase its hydrophobicity. In this study, small Scots pine sapwood and beech specimens (Pinus sylvestris and Fagus sylvatica) were impregnated with silicone solutions in order to assess these solutions’ ability to increase wood hydrophobicity and resistance to fungal decay. Some wettability tests were also performed to gauge the difference in superficial tension of the tested impregnated wood pieces. The same tests also allowed us to determine the depth of the impregnation. The results of the relative water uptake and water repellent effectiveness tests showed that several silicone formulations significantly reduce the water content of wood by either filling the wooden cavities or impeding water absorption. The potential of using the tested silicone formulations to protect wood against decay fungi for outdoor applications is discussed in this paper.