Making a birdhouse can be a fun project. But for the job to work, you will need to make sure that you are using the right wood. What about making a birdhouse out of pressure-treated wood?
New pressure treated wood is treated with Copper Azole type B and C (CA-B, CA-C) and is safe for making birdhouses. Alkaline Copper Quaternary (ACQ) was used for a limited time after 2004 and was also safe. Older pressure-treated wood however was treated with Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA) which had arsenic and could be toxic to birds.
Using the right wood for your project is essential. Let’s take a closer look at some of the things you’ll need to consider when using pressure-treated wood.
Is Pressure-Treated Wood Toxic to Animals?
Pressure-treated wood is often a popular choice for outdoor projects. The chemicals that it has been treated with will ensure that the wood can weather the elements. This ensures that it will be able to last for a long time. Whether it’s a good choice will depend on the type of pressure-treated wood you are using.
Can You Use Older Pressure-Treated Wood?
Older pressure-treated wood contains potentially harmful chemicals. Historically, this meant the use of arsenic.
The process used to manufacture these woods ensured that the chemicals sank deeply into the wood. In theory, the wood was sealed. This ensured that it was safe and the chemicals couldn’t leach out.
However, recent studies have shown that this isn’t the case. There is mounting evidence that harmful chemicals, like arsenic, might be able to get out of the wood. If this happens, there are major concerns about the potential health concerns.
Because of this, gardeners have been warned to try and avoid using older pressure-treated wood around their food. These older boards are referred to as CCA-treated. The modern pressure-treated boards are safe. Though, it’s still recommended that an impervious layer is used to make sure that chemicals are kept out of the soil.
The danger of leeching extends to people and animals. If arsenic is ingested, it can lead to serious health problems. This includes things like the potential for cancer in humans. If an animal eats enough of it, it can be fatal. There is a concern that older pressure-treated boards will leech arsenic into the food in the birdhouse. In some cases, the birds will eat wood around the entrance.
What is ACQ Pressure Treated Wood
Once the problems were revealed about CCA-treated wood, it was swiftly removed from shelves.
Alkaline Copper Quaternary became the new way of treating wood replacing CCA around 2004 to avoid using dangerous chemicals like arsenic. Instead, the treatment added more copper in replace of the arsenic.
The added copper corrodes metal nails more easily as you will read further in the article.
Some of these chemicals can still leach into the soil or birdseed. But this method is considered safe according to the EPA. Because of this, you will be able to build a birdhouse out of modern pressure-treated wood without needing to worry about harming the wildlife.
What Is Copper Azole Pressure Treated Wood
Due to restrictions on the use of ACQ the latest method of pressure treated wood came about.
Copper Azole pressure treated wood known as MCA or CA-B and CA-C is the latest preservative for both above and in ground residential applications and construction. MCB uses organic triazoles that are used to protect crops and leaves the wood with a similar green finish like CCA. (source)
Use of this latest form of preservative for pressure treated lumber is the safest to date and can be used on birdhouse construction. Lumber treated with this material should be tagged accordingly in the lumber yard with the type and amount for easy selection.
What are the Benefits of Pressure Treated Wood?
There are a few reasons why you might want to consider using pressure-treated wood in your birdhouse. The biggest benefit is longevity. Pressure-treated wood will be able to last for around 40 years. It will also be well-equipped to handle the elements, so your birdhouse will stay looking great.
Also, the higher copper concentration in modern boards will act as an insecticide. It will also stop fungus from growing on them. This can be ideal for birdhouses that are going to be built in wetter climates.
Finally, these are a low-cost alternative to other boards. You will be able to pick up a board that has been treated with CA for less than redwood.
How Should You Look After Pressure-Treated Wood?
Once you have built the birdhouse, you’ll want to make sure that it lasts for a long time. But the wood has already been treated. You won’t need to treat it again for another decade. But there are a few things that you can do to make sure that the wood stays looking great for a long time.
First, you can use a sealer. This stops the treatment process and stops the wood from drying out. You will be able to apply this once you bring the wood home. You can repeat this every year. By doing this, you will be able to stop water from getting into the wood and causing damage.
Another option is to stain the wood. This is a good option for wood that will be used outdoors. When you stain it, you will be able to protect it from moisture. You can also use a stain to protect the wood from UV rays and direct sunlight.
Third, you might want to paint the wood. This can be a great way to add some color to your birdhouse. However, you’ll need to be careful about the type of paint you are using. It will have to be specifically designed for pressure-treated wood. You need to allow the wood to breathe. This ensures that the moisture won’t build-up, causing the wood to start cracking. It can help to apply a sealant before you apply the paint.
If you are thinking of staining or painting the wood, you will need to wait for it to be completely dry. If it’s not, the paint or the stain will start to peel off. Often, it will take a few months for the wood to completely dry out.
What Are Some Other Tips to Build a Long-Lasting Birdhouse?
Though the choice of wood is important, there are some simple tips that you can use to build a long-lasting birdhouse. First, you’ll want to make sure that you are using plastic or rubber hinges. Unlike metal ones, these won’t rust in the rain.
It’s important to regularly clean the birdhouse. Once the brood has left, you will need to apply some water-based anti-bacterial agents. This will ensure that no mold or fungus can build up inside the house. It’s also important to change the bedding materials.
Third, you’ll want to think about where you are positioning the birdhouse. Try to pick a spot that is largely in the shade. This will reduce the amount of UV radiation on the wood. You’ll also need to try and pick a spot that is sheltered against the wind and rain. A sloped roof will ensure that water can’t pool and damage the wood. Check that it’s far enough off the ground that a cat won’t be tempted to try and break-in.
Why Should You Avoid Using Metal Nails in Pressure Treated Wood?
Hopefully, by now you’re ready to start using pressure-treated wood to build the birdhouse. However, you will need to avoid using metal nails. In the ACQ treatment process, there is a lot of copper added to the wood. This can corrode metal parts. Often, this will only take a few years before the metal starts to break down.
In this type of using metal, you might need to think about using stainless steel. You can also use galvanized stainless steel. These will be able to resist corrosion and last for a long time.
If you are using bolts, you might want to use a polyethylene sleeve. You can then use a waterproof line, which is often used for roofing.
There are two types of pressure-treated wood. CCA is the old variety. You should avoid this type. It contains arsenic, which can leach into the bird food and harm the environment. The newer type is ACQ. This doesn’t use harsh chemicals and will last for a long time. Because of this, it’s a great option for building a birdhouse.