Design & DIY

What exactly is acetylated wood and why should you consider it?


This article was originally published in the Fall 2016 issue of Cottage Life magazine.

What is it?

Acetylation is a non-toxic process in which radiata pine from Chile or New Zealand is soaked in acetic anhydride (an organic compound related to vinegar), making the wood more resistant to moisture, insects, and rot.

What makes it so great?

Acetylated wood is more durable than common pressure-treated products. It doesn’t shrink and swell like regular wood, so “stains and sealants can last longer,” says Mat Heller of Upper Canada Forest Products. Translation: fewer cracks over time. Heller has a door made from the stuff: “It’s been three years now, and it still looks new.”

What are the downfalls?

Despite acetylated wood’s popularity in Europe and Asia, the jury is still out on long-term performance in North America, says Paul Morris, a wood scientist at FPInnovations. It can also be costly: it’s imported, and the wood requires stainless steel screws to withstand its acidity. Prices start at $6.50 a board foot.