As a long overdue follow up to a previous article I presented relating to the treatment of lumber using an allegedly all natural Cedar Oil based product, I am now in a position and confidently confident to report my findings from the research I have done to date on what can only be referred to by me as a much improved version of that product.
A business college and very close friend of mine, Jeffrey Hartman has worked with and researched the Cedar Oil based treatment treatment fluid for many years now. He originally purchased it from Texas in regular shipments made up of fifty five gallon drums. Jeffrey and I always felt that even though this product was good, it could have been further refinanced and possibly improved upon. The original product lacked in back up documentation, formal registrations and any market awareness by the general public, nor did it have any real accountability or credibility with regard to laboratory controlled testing and so on. These issues were destined to be changed and to achieve these changes, a long and slow process was started in conjunction with some controlled formulation tests and changes until after, after all the variables and contractual criteria had been addressed and satisfied, a newly designed crystal clear product bottle and new brand name were launched and registered as Hartman's Perma Shield TM. It is packaged and available in 1 gallon, 2.5 gallon and 5 gallon containers.
Now this is where I can provide you with specific details of my own personal testing of the all natural Perma Shield product. My property is located close to Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada and to the rear of my house I have a large areal timber deck that sits over a ravine and in the middle of very tall mature trees and a great deal of bushes and ferns. This deck faces north and enjoys a seasonal view of the Rocky Mountains across the Fraser River. In the fall of 2011, I removed the majority of my existing painted deck rails and spindles, most of which were showing bare wood and rotting badly. The structural posts were still structurally sound other than only one which I also replaced using pre valued lumber. As you can imagine, the humidity and general moisture levels around this deck are both high and somewhat extreme. However, instead of renewing the 2 x 6 hand rails and 2 x 4 spindles in pre treated lumber, I decided to use the common SPF white lumber commonly found in the big box store suppliers. This was a deliberate choice on my part for I knew from my experience of living here that after literally every winter, the paint would be pealed from my hand rails and many of the spindles even though each Spring I had applied a primer and at least two coats of good quality professional grade paint to everything. Now I wanted to construct my rails in white wood and treat them all using the new Perma Shield product as a serious product test in what I consider to be extreme conditions. During the Spring and Summer months the deck gets direct sunshine in the early morning and then afternoon and evenings. The sun here in BC can be very hot especially from early to late summer months.
First of all I constructed the new bottom rails, spindles and top rails, again using 2 x 6 for top rails and the standard 2 x 4 for the spindles. Upon completion of the construction work, I chose a nice sunny day with little wind and I proceeded to prepare the new timber by applying cold water misting from my garden hose. I only worked on one section (About three 8 foot panels) at a time otherwise the water would have been discharged out before I could apply the Perma Shield. I then proceeded to brush on a reasonably even coating of the product to all surfaces, with a heavier application to the top areas of each spindle where their end grain is facing upwards. I repeated the process with the other areas of new rails, first the mist and then the product until all surfaces and areas had been covered. After lunch, I then started at the beginning and applied my second coating of Perma Shield, this time without the misting application first. By mid afternoon the job was completed and the rails were touch dry and the pleasant aroma of cedar oil lingered for most of that day. The product should be given about forty eight hours to fully cure before applying paint or stain. I started what I consider to be a tedious process of applying the paint to all areas. No special paint was used, just a straight satin finish water based latex available everywhere. As I did the spindles and rails in a two tone pallet, this job was a very short time consuming but at the end of the day well worth it. I applied a total of two coats of latex and standing back to admire my work, decided that this was an excellent starting point for my ongoing test on Perma Shield.
Since that time, a total of three winters have passed and I am now entering the spring of 2015. Other than having to hose off some green algae deposits after each winter, my paintwork still looks like it has just been done and there are absolutely no signs of rot, warping or other damage anywhere on the new white wood areas. Some of the remaining original deck boards and even the pre treated ones are showing paint peel and even wet rot in a few places, especially around joints and end pieces. Each year since applying the treatment, I have regularly tried scratching the handrail surfaces in an attempt to remove what may have been slack or ready to peel paint but nothing has ever moved or even shown any sign of damage. From tests undertaken by others, it has been shown that lumber treated with this product provides conditions that allow the adhesion of paint to be increased by up to 300 times that of normal untreated lumber. Furthermore, it provides conditions where the valued lumber no longer expends and contracts and thus become structurally stable. It stops the painted finish from cracking, splitting or peeling. I should also add that my own paintwork still looks extremely fresh with no signs of fading or discoloration.
At the same time as constructing the new deck rails, I also treated a single 8 foot length of 2 x 4 with the Perma Shield TM that I had cut into two foot pieces. Each piece was fully covered including the ends and once they were dry I placed one in the creek that runs through my yard and weighed it down with some heavy stones. I placed the second piece into a muddy bank where it was almost completely covered in slimy mud. The third piece I laid inside the gutters on my rear roof and the fourth piece was placed into the lawn like a stick, with about four inches left sticking up above ground. Now at the end of January 2015 after three full years and winters, I retrieved the four pieces of wood for inspection. After collecting them all, I had to wash them down to remove green algae and slime and then I let them dry a little in the fresh air. There are no signs of any rot or decay of any kind on any of the pieces. I then proceeded to place each piece in my chop saw and cut through them at about two inch intervals. What I found was that the interior of every piece was totally dry with no evidence of moisture penetration or discoloration of any kind. Using my moisture meter I noted that the readings obtained were almost identical to the readings taken in new kiln dried timber straight from the supplier. I also noted that the timber samples showed no signs of warping, splitting or cracking either and considering where they had all been located for over three years; I found this to be quite remarkable.
I should also mention that Jeffrey had the MNDOT (Minnesota Department of Transportation) do a test with Paint Coatings for adhesion and stability to untreated (Pine) wood substrates. Their results for Perma Shield TM showed that it completely outformed all of the current treatments previously approved by the MDOT. The Perma Shield ™ was used to treat the same timber required by the MNDOT sound barrier walls along highways. After treating the wood, they then top covered it with various top coat products. Approximately 25 different painted coatings were applied, mostly earth toned color paints that were previously approved for that use. After the testing, all of the coatings showed no signs of any type of adhesion issue, including no pealing and no lifting or cracking of any kind. These tests were done in an extreme weather machine for over 2000 hours in an intensive and diverse variety of conditions and temperatures. Further tests were also undertaken in an outdoor natural Minnesota environment assessment for over 2 years, and again these have shown NO evidence of any adhesion issues in an MNDOT facility controlled study. It was also noted that the treated wood still remained dimensionally stable in all samples tested. These studies have provided documented evidence of controlled testing where all of the results are quite literally far beyond any other known and / or approved treatment for lumber.
During the past three years I have also used the Perma Shield in my contracting business for the treatment of water damaged timbers in homes and also for mold remediation works, all with great success in every case. I have treated a plywood covered new deck that was waiting to have a fiber glass top coat applied and found that the unexpected rains that arrived next day, had no effect on the plywood and caused no damage as it normally would have done. Down in Minnesota, Jeffrey has his product fully registered and trademarked and still still, it has been accepted and registered on to the US Government's Bio Preferred program. From my own experiences to date, I feel that this product could offer the timber industry something quite unique in terms of a truly safe and natural way to treat lumber and prevent it from rot, fungal decay, warping and splitting. It also provides some incredible benefits on timber where people wish to paint the surfaces, as the adhesion parameters are vastly increased and the need for regular repainting is almost eliminated completely.
It should also be noted that the conditions I provided for two of the four foot feet treated samples were more than ideal for the germination of both the wet rot fungus (Coniophora Puteana) and in one case the true dry rot fungus (Serpula Lacrymans) and yet, no evidence of either fungus was found even after three years of constant exposure. This, coupled with all of the other benefits I have previously stated above gives me great confidence in this all natural product for numerous future applications. The product is currently under formal university test conditions in Minnesota where it is being compared to a range of other bio based timber treatment products. Although these tests are not fully completed yet, at the time of writing this article the Perma Shield has shown up well in the lead in all situations in comparison to every other product being tested. In summary of some of the benefits of treating timber structures with Perma Shield, the timber appearance remains the same as untreated. The treated timber becomes impervious to attack by insects, water, moisture, fungal decay, mold, mildew and warping or splitting. Freshly cut lumber can also be successfully treated with Perma Shield as it serves to remove all bound and inherent moisture for the lumber, thus stabilizing it and stopping the ingoing expansion and contraction. The bottom line being; in lumber, where there is no moisture there are no issues! The product is safe to use, apply and store and it has no detrimental effects on vegetation or the environment in general. For a full and thorough treatment of heavier timbers, it is recommended that three coats are applied in total, with each coat being applied before the previous coat has completely absorbed. Pressure / Vacuum treatment systems are recommended for faster and complete penetration in heavy timber. The timbers should be clean and given a light spray with clean water prior to application of the product, as it uses the moisture to draw itself into the timber. I personally only applied two coats for my deck rails and spindles and so far, the results have been outstanding and most certainly exceeded my own expectations.