Tim-bor: Borate Wood Treatment for the Future of Home Construction

:: Tuesday, January 21, 2020 :: Posted By Frank Wawrzos
Housing is one of the fundamental needs for people everywhere. As the world’s population grows, the makeup of that populations is also changing, creating not just a need for more housing, but a greater variety of housing options. That growing demand presents challenges not only for the pace of building but also the resources required.
Builders are looking for ways to increase their output sustainably, efficiently, and cost-effectively to ensure that generations to come have a safe, comfortable, and healthy place to live. For many forward-thinking builders and manufacturers, wood and wood products are foundational to meeting this growing need and to their successful business models in the coming decades.
Using borates to protect wooden structures is key to the success of these building programs. 20 Mule Team® Borax Tim-bor® provides multi-functional, broad spectrum protection that enables builders to protect their structures from insects, damp, and fungi, helping to ensure long-term structural stability.

Growing population, shrinking resources: The need for sustainable building materials

The growth of human population worldwide presents builders with a formidable challenge. According to the World Economic Forum, by the end of the 21st century, the world’s population will increase by half, reaching 11.2 billion by 2100.
Simultaneously, demographic shifts are predicted, including declines in household sizes and a greater number of older people aging in place. With fewer people in each household, the number of future households required will actually rise faster than the population.
This predicted shift drives smart builders and manufacturers to look for practical solutions today. Builders are increasing the speed of construction with innovations in prefabrication techniques that enable faster, high-quality construction. And manufacturers are developing materials that fit that turnkey model while enhancing the safety and quality of building design.
All of these efforts are guided by the need for sustainability and reduced environmental impact. Reliance on traditional materials such as concrete and steel come at a devastating environmental cost. For example, concrete production accounts for between 4 and 8% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions (PDF). International efforts to reduce overall carbon emissions have prompted builders to seek low-carbon alternatives such as materials made from recycled plastic, hemp fibers, rammed earth—even a living concrete material in development by researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Such creative innovations are welcome and exciting. However, builders who need cost-effective alternatives in their immediate plans have taken a fresh look at one of the oldest construction materials known: Wood.

Among sustainable building materials, wood makes the cut

For sheer versatility, availability, and renewability, many builders look to wood and timber products. Today’s wood products are engineered in ways that make them a practical replacement for carbon-intensive steel and concrete.
Wood meets the criteria for green building in several critical areas. Wood is:
  • Sustainable and environmentally beneficial: Today’s highly effective managed forestry and tree-farming programs provide an ongoing supply of timber and wood products that absorb CO2 from the atmosphere as they grow. Remarkably, timber structures continue to deliver CO2 benefits even after harvesting as the timber in the new structures stores the CO2 it has absorbed.
  • Cost-effective: Building with wood provides economic benefits too. Wood frames and even whole segments of wooden structures can be pre-fabricated offsite, then delivered in just-in-time fashion to a building site, where they enable crews to substantially reduce building time, labor costs, transport fuel, and energy use. The cost savings can be dramatic and enable builders to provide better-made housing at lower costs to more people.
  • Resilient: Engineered wood products such as cross-laminated timber (CLT) rival steel in strength, are flexible enough to withstand strong earthquakes, and are flame resistant, making them suitable for even high-rise construction.

Looking to the future: Tim-bor provides borates for wood protection

Even with modern advancements, builders still must contend with the natural enemies of wood: insects, fungi, and moisture. Fortunately, with Tim-bor for wood protection, these enemies no longer present a barrier to using wood as a primary construction material.
For decades, borates have been used for wood preservation and protection. The borates in Tim-bor are excellent wood preservatives that provide effective protection against fungi responsible for the biodeterioration of natural-fiber products and insects such as the Formosan termite and wood-boring beetles.

High safety, low environmental impact

Building designers are also looking deeper into the materials they choose to be sure they won’t adversely affect human health over time. Boron is a micronutrient necessary for healthy growth and function in plants and animals. Although borates are effective against insects and fungi, they have low mammalian toxicity and pose virtually no risk to people or pets. Tim-bor does not contain any organic or heavy metal components and, as it is applied as an aqueous solution, does not use organic solvents.

Borate wood treatment benefits a wide range of applications

Tim-bor delivers the highest concentration of boron at the maximum possible solubility and rate of dissolution in water. This formulation means that Tim-bor is an affordable and durable treatment in a variety of applications and in numerous wood products including:
  • Solid wood
  • Lumber and plywood
  • Oriented strand board (OSB)
  • Engineered wood
  • Railroad crossties (sleepers)
  • Millwork, windows, and doors
  • Mass timber
  • Cross-laminated timber (CLT)
  • Wood plastic composites (WPC

Preserving wood structures for the future

Naturally, the renewability of the supply of wood for construction is subject to some constraints; even the best managed forests take time to grow. For that reason, protecting and preserving wooden structures is even more important as builders seek to fill the growing needs of our growing global population.



U.S. Borax, part of Rio Tinto, is a global leader in the supply and science of borates—naturally-occurring minerals containing boron and other elements. We are 1,000 people serving 650 customers with more than 1,800 delivery locations globally. We supply around 30% of the world’s need for refined borates from our world-class mine in Boron, California, about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles.  Learn more about Rio Tinto.

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