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Can You Use Pressure Treated Wood for Framing? (Explained)

Pressure-treated woods are very durable and resistant to various damages. So, is it okay to make wood framing by using pressure-treated timbers? 

Before choosing timber for your new framing project, read this article to understand the pros and cons of using pressure-treated wood indoors.

Can you use pressure treated wood for framing?

You can use pressure treated wood for framing your house, but the pressure treated wood can have harmful effects on your health. Moreover, pressure-treated wood resists moisture and insects, but indoor woods are already protected from them. So PT wood is unnecessary in most cases.

Pressure-treated woods are specially processed to make them resistant to environmental damages. The treating process includes injecting chemicals that make the wood durable and long-lasting in an outdoor environment.

The injected chemicals make the wood moisture resistant and distasteful to the insect. Insects and water are the main damage dealers of wood, so when you make the wood resistant to them, the wood lasts more than a lifetime.

Now, let’s say you want to make wood framing using pressure-treated wood to make it long-lasting. Yes, you can get very durable frames with pressure treated wood, but is it necessary? 

In an indoor environment, the wood is already protected from the water. Yes, there is moisture inside our room, but that does not deal significant damage to worry about. 

Once the lumber is protected from the water, molds and fungus can not make colonies, and wood does not rot. 

So, using pressure treated wood is unnecessary in indoor conditions in most cases. Even untreated wood lasts as long as 100 years or more.

Now let’s talk about the most controversial fact about pressure treated wood. In the 1940s, scientists found that pressure treated wood could be harmful for human health.

However, modern pressure treated wood has mild chemicals but is not totally safe. There are different types of pressure treated wood for various purposes.

So, we think it is not worth taking those health risks for slightly better longevity, depending on the point we mentioned above.

Still, if you have to work with processed wood, wear protective eyeglass and a respirator. The sawdust of treated wood can be highly harmful to health. 

Pressure-treated wood does not burn faster, but inhaling the smoke can cause severe irritation in the respiratory system.

Check out if you can make that furniture with pressure treated wood.

Interior framing: 

Interior framing does not require pressure-treated wood, but you can make your house framing with it. Most people do not prefer PT wood for interior framing in fear of chemical leaching.

Bed frame: 

You should not make bed frames with pressure-treated wood, especially when you have kids in your house.

4 reasons why you can use pressure treated wood for framing

As mentioned earlier, pressure-treated lumber is unnecessary for general wood framing as indoor timber does not contact water, insects, and other microbes. But still, you may want to use pressure treated wood in some special situations. 

Here are the top reasons why you can use pressure treated timber for framing.

When you expect extra longevity:

Yes, we all want things to be long-lasting, but it gets a bit complicated when it comes to treated wood. You can use pressure treated lumber when you are sure that the frames are out of human reach and can not leach chemicals in the indoor environment. 

There are different types of pressure treated wood, and some safe versions also exist. So, if you are sure about the safety, you can work with the pressure treated wood.

If the wood is exposed to moisture:

In places like the balcony and the bathroom, you may want to use woods that have better resistance to moisture and rotting. If you think the wood has a chance to get wet frequently, you can use pressure treated lumber instead of regular wood.

Ground floor joists:

If your house is in a crawl place, you may want to make joists with pressure treated wood. But for dry areas and 2nd floors, regular wood is enough for joists. 

Keep in mind that the chemicals used in pressure treated wood are harmful to soil and the aquatic environment. So, do not throw the extra wood or sawdust randomly.

If the wood is in contact with soil:

Soil decomposes wood even faster than the outdoor air. Soil contains microorganisms, insects and moistures that enhance the rotting process. That’s why processed wood is necessary where the structure will contact the direct ground.

How to use pressure treated wood for framing?

Working with pressure wood is mostly the same as untreated wood. But pressure wood is a bit heavier than regular wood. 

Although, pressure treated wood contains wood preservatives which can be harmful to human health. So, while working with pressure treated wood, you must follow some safety steps. Check out some tips to work with pressure-treated wood safely.

Safety measures:

Always wear protective hand gloves, eyewear and respirator while working with pressure processed wood. Wash your hand thoroughly with soap and water after working with pressure treated wood.

Always work outdoors when working with pressure treated wood. Be careful of the sawdust of pressure treated wood as it can enter your lungs or eyes.

Never burn:

Never burn pressure treated wood or dust. The smoke can be harmful to human and pets’ health.

Do not discard:

Do not discard the extra wood parts and dust outside. It is harmful to soil health and the aquatic environment. 

Waterproof coating:

Coating the pressure-treated wood with waterproof paint is always a good option as the color blocks the toxic effect of the wood.

What is the best application for pressure-treated wood?

Although the pressure treated wood is resistant to environmental damage, some applications can keep the wood in good health for a longer time. As the wood ages, the preservative may weaken due to constant contact with the water. 

A penetrating semi-transparent stain or a water-repellent sealer can help solve the problem. Those coating repels water from wood and keeps the wood healthy. 

Those applications are essential to keep the wood look healthy if the wood structure is fully exposed to the environment.

What lumber is best for framing?

Treated and manufactured woods are the best choice for framing. Douglas fir is the most used timber for wood framing in North America, but other woods also work great as wood frames.

Here are some of the wood you can use for the frame. Some woods work best indoors, while others work best in outdoor conditions. So we are separating them into two parts.

For outdoor framing

  • Cypress
  • White oak
  • Alaskan yellow cedar
  • Reclaimed wood
  • Douglas fir

For indoor framing

  • White oak
  • Red oak
  • Douglas fir
  • Eastern white pine
  • Southeastern yellow pine

Why can’t you use pressure treated wood inside?

Pressure-treated wood is used to build outdoor structures that can resist rotting, UV rays, molds, termites, fungus and other environmental factors that damage the wood. 

If we look closely, wood is a structure made of tiny cellulose tubes. Those tubes transfer sap when the tree is alive. 

Those wood tubes can absorb a lot of water and attract mold, fungus, and insects. Injecting resistant chemicals in high pressure makes the wood pressure-treated. Those chemicals do a great job of resisting environmental damage.

But do you really need to use pressure treated wood to make an indoor structure or furniture? Here is why we don’t think you should use pressure treated wood inside.

It’s pointless in most cases:

In indoor, wood will not contact water or high moisture. So, chemical protection has no job to keep the microbes away like damp wood. Every life on earth needs water to live. 

If you take water out of something, the thing will be resistant to microscopic bacteria, fungus and molds.

Our house environment is also not suitable for insects that damage the wood. So, the wood is always protected with or without the preservative. 

It’s harmful to human health:

If the chemical leaches from the pressure treated wood, it can cause serious health problems. That is why most people do not choose pressure treated wood to use inside.

Nowadays, you can find a lot safer options for pressure treated wood. If you consider using it inside for some reason, coat the wood with waterproof paint.

It’s expensive:

Pressure-treated wood is more costly than standard wood, and as you are getting minimum benefits from its features, it’s wise to avoid it inside.

Final Thoughts 

Pressure-treated woods are not a good option for regular indoor framing. Regular processed woods are best for indoor framing projects. There are health issues related to pressure-treated wood, so always wear a respirator, protective gloves and eyeglass when working with it.