TimberSIL, a wood product used in about 100 New Orleans homes built following Hurricane Katrina, and which has been touted as a durable and eco-friendly alternative to traditional, chemically-treated wood, appears to be falling apart.
The Make It Right Foundation, founded by the actor, Brad Pitt, has been focused on building homes in New Orleans that are both energy efficient and environmentally safe. The product, TimberSIL, which has been used in the homes’ exterior steps and porches, is discoloring and rotting, TheVerge.com reported.
TimberSIL is made without chemicals used to prevent rot and decay. According to the manufacturer’s description, TimberSIL is infused with “liquid glass [that] penetrates the woods’ surface, hardens and forms a permanent bond surrounding the wood fibers,” giving the wood the properties of treated lumber without the dangerous chemicals. This claim was important to Make it Right’s mission. The manufacturer describes the product as non-toxic and flame retardant.
Make it Right reports that TimberSIL began rotting, in part due to the moist New Orleans weather, in just three years after the work was completed, according to the New Orleans Advocate. The executive director of Make It Right said the organization chose this material partly because of the 40-year guarantee and the product’s absence of chemicals.
The foundation has replaced the wood in 30 homes, so far, and intends to replace all the TimberSIL used in the homes it built, The New Orleans Advocate reports. The foundation is also considering legal action if it cannot reach an agreement with Timber Treatment Technologies, the maker of TimberSIL, to recoup costs.
In an unrelated project being conducted at an inn in western Massachusetts, the builder had to replace TimberSIL in the tourist destination’s deck because the wood would not properly hold paint, according to The Daily Hampshire Gazette. The inn expects replacement cost to run about $100,000.