Softwood Becomes The New Hardwood

Softwood Becomes The New Hardwood
April 6, 2017 SNH Editorial Team

Natural woods are often regarded as the eco-friendly choice in home improvement products. Pine, maple or even mahogany simply do not hold up to wind and weather in decking and other exterior installations. Tropical hardwoods were the only durable solution – UNTIL NOW – until Kebony.

Deforestation of the rainforest, the “lungs of our planet” is hardly an eco-friendly choice. Relieving one’s guilt meant buying Forestry Stewardship certified wood, which at least holds the promise of replanting precious harvested tropical woods.  Speaking for myself: I have always had the nagging question of how and if such planting is actually taking place in the countries of South America and, not to mention it takes decades for these trees to regrow.

Architects, designers and builders PLEASE LISTEN UP.  Today there is a better solution. This topic is truly important and goes well beyond any individual project!

Today softwoods can be “kebonized” an impregnation process using furfuryl alcohol, which is produced from agricultural crop waste to harden more readily available soft woods.  In this process polymers become locked in wood cell walls and after a heat treatment permanently alter the structure of wood cell walls.   In the end, durability and hardness of softwoods measure up to those of hardwoods.

This “furfurylation” process creates various shades of darker woods, those similar to Ipe and teak. Left untreated it grays just like these South American woods.  In fact it is really difficult to tell one from the other.  In other words, even the aesthetic look and feel of tropical woods can be gotten without nagging thoughts around deforestation of our planet’s filter system for a deck!  So from now on, head north not south for your next wood products.

Sadly this technology took a long time to finally enter the commercial marketplace. Research findings date back to 1980/81 with Professor Dr. Marc Schneider in Canada per the company website.  Kebony was finally created in 2007 and achieved commercial production scale in 2009.  Think of just how much more tropical forest would exist today

Let this history be added reason to shift our buying decisions immediately. Let’s make the commitment today to from now on install kebonized soft wood.