I am looking to build a couple of things from left-over wood from a
recent addition to our house. I was thinking of Bird houses and Bat
houses, as well as cold Frame and a vegetable garden fence. But I
have a couple of questions.
1) Is it safe to use building contruction wood (plywood, studs,
etc.)? It is very likely that some of teh wood has been traited with
various chemicals... (I have no way to verify that...)
2) What is the best way to protect the various items from the rain,
sun, etc? What is the best paint? dye? etc. Anything that would be
safe for the environment?
3) Also I have leftover shingles (with an asphalte base), would these
be safe for the roof cover of the bird/bat houses?
Any suggestions is welcome!
On Mon, 10 Sep 2007 22:46:21 -0700, save email@example.com wrote:
Don't use pressure treated materials. You can tell by smelling the
wood--it has a chemical smell. Untreated wood smells "natural."
Interior ply and studs are safe. Use exterior paint, but only for the
exterior of the birdhouse. The inside should be left unfinished. A
shingle on top will extend the life of the birdhouse. Allow the
birdhouse to age a few months before use.
The plywood is held together by glue. I guess (based on wikipedia)
that it is usually urea-formaldehyde glue (interior plywood) or
phenol-formaldehyde glue (exterior plywood). I didn't look up a
material safety data sheet or anything too detailed, but even if this
stuff isn't super for the environment, I don't think it will poison
your birds (at least, many birdhouse plans call for it), plants, etc.
As for the studs, assuming they are indoor studs (whiteish and smell
like wood) they aren't treated (not much anyway). The nasty treated
stuff is greenish and smells like, well, chemicals for lack of a
better word. Your builders might have used it for the bottom of a
wall (in contact with the foundation), exterior work like decks, etc,
but they shouldn't have used it for normal framing of walls and such.
It lasts longer outdoors but I don't use it. Too much potential
hazard for the plants, me, the dogs, beneficial insects, etc.
One good choice for the environment is just to leave the plain wood.
It will turn grey but won't rot especially fast as long as it stays
dry. Where you are likely to get rot is where the wood is in contact
with the soil (paint can only help so much with this) or anything else
that will not let it dry out.
Linseed oil is generally considered the environmental choice if you do
want a finish.
If you were shopping for shingles and an eco-friendly product were
your priority, you might choose something else (see
http://www.greenlivingjournal.com/page.php?p 08 for a long
discussion with lots of pros and cons). But I don't think there is
anything especially toxic about the asphalt.
My thoughts are a garden fence is seldom a privacy fence, so you're talking
fence posts. Not rails, stiles, and such. If that's the case, treated
lumber is needed.
Most treated lumber has a greenish tint to it. But, not all. Any hardware
used for attaching anything to treated lumber should be stainless steel, or
zinc coated steel at the least. Should not be used to frame a birdhouse as
chemicals in it tend to gas and leech from the wood.
All wood will eventually rot, including treated lumber. More so left out in
All painted, varnished, and water-sealed lumber should be left to dry in sun
for a few months if for a birdhouse. Do not expose to rain or excessive
moisture conditions during that time.
All painted surfaces exposed to weather will eventually need repainting.
Sometimes, an overlooked area will flake before noticed resulting in rot and
exposure to the elements. A wood that will hold up best is cedar or redwood
so you can catch it in time.
For a birdhouse, I would not worry about the small amount of residue from
any coating I used on it affecting the environment. More important, will it
affect the birds themselves?
Both asphalt and composition/fiberglas shingles have asphalt in it. Both
are safe for the roof covering of a birdhouse. Google "birdhouse plans".
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