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Tanalith or Creosote?


GMS Timber
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Hello Gentlemen,

We're trading in UC4 tanalised production, but recently we've started noticing that fencers opinion on tanalith is rather poor and they started working more with creosote. Also some fencers said that tanalized posts don't last the 15 years advertised and have to be replaced every 5-10 years. We'd just like to know the general consensus on which is better ? Why do you prefer one or another? Thanks! :)

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Hi GMS, from my experience just tanelith treated timber was rotting out in 4-8 yrs and has given a bad name to the fencers that's were using it post 2004 before were all aware of the life expectancy change that went with the changes in treatment that year. We went to red wood HC4 treated timber after we realised and the longest I've seen in on our own work is from 2008, and that still looks good so far (I've been keeping a curious eye on it). After doing some rail way work we have got to use the postsaver sleeves much more now as they should (combined with 15yr timber) last 20yrs. We always offer creosote treated timber but had very few clients opt for it due to the increased cost. Personally I'd prefer creosote for the client but it's not pleasant to work with as many have said on here and the cost puts clients off/makes us look less competitive.

 

More recently our supplier has been using incised timber with a 15yr guarantee (not sure how good it is but they offer a cert with it if desired) all from M&M timber. So far timber has been good and treatment depth looks good to me but I have not seen it established in the ground for any time yet so I always offer the client options; creosote, hc4, incised, any of above with sleeves, and advise then which they should consider for their needs & budget.

 

Being in essex we complete probably 2/3 post and rail fencing and about 1/3 stock fencing with a few odd domestic/commercial jobs here and there. I would be curious to get some pack prices for you for 1.8m & 2.1m 5x3" & 6x3" posts pointed and flat bottom, and 38x100x3600 (and 4800) rails, and 1/2rnd uni-rails. Can pm me if you'd prefer. Per artic load forklift available for unloading.

 

Also 2.4m 7-8" strainers and 6, 7 & 8ft 3-4" rnd inters for stock fence.

 

I would also like to find a supplier that could pre-apply the post saver sleeves in large qty when we get big jobs as they are very time consuming for us by hand in large numbers. But not much need as yet unless the sleeves get more desired.

 

Peter

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That's exactly what I've heard, fences falling apart after half of their life expectancy. We've been reaffirmed by our supplier that the impregnation process has improved of the last few years and also provided with certificates for the 15 year guarantee bit, but we're still a bit wary.
It's nice to have people who've been in the business for a healthy period of time and know the gig share their experiences so thanks for that!

I'll satisfy your curiosity, but can't promise we can even make a dent in M&M's prices as they are out of our league when it comes to size and experience. :)

Tadas

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I'm 4,000 miles west, but we have the same trouble here. I give my customers the choice, but I make it clear that any post failure with any treatment besides creosote is between the customer and the manufacturer. If they have a failure with creosote posts, and I'm still alive, I will replace it. I've had my name dragged through the mud plenty over poorly treated posts. It makes my blood boil to think about all the free fence I've built over people not doing a good job.

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Where do you start, luckily I wasnt fencing after the ban so I haven't had fences fail, yet!.

Trouble is there is a massive difference in talised products depending on the species and the treatment plant. Spruce is a complete waste of time but its all that's available around my area. Machine rounds have the sap wood removed usually unevenly with variable treatment penetration. Incised has better penetration but then the cracks in timber go deeper that the treatment so no better in the long run. I don't believe in the 15 year guarantee and good luck to anyone who tries to claim in the future.

 

I generally use creosote,(even if only for strainers and struts) as customers have had enough of failed timber on newish fences, and the extra cost isn't as much as people think, especially considering the increased usable livespan of the fence.

 

I've had a go with post savers, and would use them more if posts where pre applied. I don't think there perfect but will help.

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I am moving away from hc4 and am mainly using creosote strainers and struts or telegraph poles with dipped chestnut inters or clipex.

I have had hc4 fail after 5 years and isn't cheap either especially compared to chestnut and have lost confidence in it. At the very least use good strainers and the rest is easily repairable if need be.

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I intend in future to recommend strainers and turners creosote at the very least,

I can see the arguments for using c4 posts, if the strainer and turners are secure and sound for 60 years, as promised by gangridges, then t her fence should remain pretty tight, should any posts need replaced sure to rot, damage, ext they are cheaper to do and easier as the fence should still be tight,

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Have been fencing for over 25 years no problem with the old tanalith  but when the took some of the good stuff out had many stakes and post go less than 5 years.

trouble was farmers were always after the cheapest materials. and any type of tree was put into stakes , worked on a harvester for 5 years in forestry and anything that woud make stakes we were told to cut it as they were paid more for stakes than chip and  wood pulp.

We use mainly creosote now for customers or redwood imported from abroad slow grown and a lot of telegraph posts as strainers.

Farmers are now changing asking for better materials as they seen that cheap does not last. 

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I completely agree with all that has been said above.  The key thing is to spend the money on the boxes or struts and build them out of creo posts or telegraph poles and you should get 30 years plus.  Then it is no hard ship to replace the inters when they go, however when you start thinking about the cost of replacing a tanalised or equivalent UC4 treated post, potentially 2-3 times over 15 odd years the bit extra for the creo intermediate become tolerable and makes more sense, particularly if you factor in labour replacing them 2 or 3 times as well.  Do it once and do it right.

 

I think the fundamental problem with the tanalising or any of the 'green' treatments whether incised or whatever each manufacturer does for getting the chemical in, the problem is not with the depth of treatment or permeability of sap wood/heart wood, but more of a simple case of the chemical doesn't work all that well.

 

When they took the Arsenic out of the Copper Chrome Arsenate it lost all its clout and ability to kill fungi, bacteria and other wood rotting pathogens.   It was said that the original pre 2004 CCA treatment would destroy any pathogens that were already in the tree pre felling/ treatment.7

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As above, lack of reliability. New record is 3 years for me, pretty gutting really, a lot of time and money for it to rot off.

 

As said farmers can be their own worst enemies, save themselves a few pence a meter and they are happy.

 

I use either chestnut or creosote/ telegraph poles. I have enough work that I won't do tantalised timber, I don't really see the point, the 15 year guarantee doesn't fill me with any confidence.

 

The point is there is no consistency in the creation of softwood posts, Varying timber, Varying moisture content, varying ages, varying treatment process. Then finally the stuff it's treated with is ****, I reckon untreated larch would be better than modern day posts.

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But isn't creosote banned from using in livestock enclosures? Or did I hear wrong? Due to its toxicity, plus the chemicals in creo posts are absorbed by the soil and ends up in the grass around them. All in all it's nasty stuff, but is it really that much more expensive than tanalith? It's only about 10-15% more than the average tanalith product, well maybe when you take quantities in to account it does add up.

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I have just had some prices for UC4 and creo deer inters both 100-125mm x 2.7m and the creo is nearly twice the UC4 15 year price but i know it will last 20 years easily so its kind of a no brainer, if the customer can swallow the initial cost it will make complete financial sense.

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I have just had some prices for UC4 and creo deer inters both 100-125mm x 2.7m and the creo is nearly twice the UC4 15 year price but i know it will last 20 years easily so its kind of a no brainer, if the customer can swallow the initial cost it will make complete financial sense.

Could you private message me the price on the quote you got for creo ? I'm intrigued, as our creo prices differ about 10-15% from UC4 prices. Some positions can go up to 25%, but that's the highest.

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I give my customers the option have knocked in a lot of creo I then worry what it is doing to my health.You also need to know where your product is coming from,when I talk to the top guys they warn me about creosote is it actually the real deal creo or something else as with everything in life you get what you pay for yes no?!

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Could you private message me the price on the quote you got for creo ? I'm intrigued, as our creo prices differ about 10-15% from UC4 prices. Some positions can go up to 25%, but that's the highest.

Don't know what prices you have are but I pay twice the price for Creo intermediate posts over tanalised and 3-4 times the price for strainers.

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Well, we only ever traded in creosoted machine rounds, but have the option with our supplier to creosote any and all production that's in our supply range. I could post you our prices, but need confirmation from the admins if that's allowed.

I think the prices differ region to region due to accesibility to manufacturers, competition between suppliers and many other factors. But twice the price compared to UC4 doesn't sound reasonable, well maybe your UC4 price is super good, that is also a possibility.

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There is a massive differnence in some products that get classed as UC4.

I Would say your UC4 prices are either too high or the creosoted products aren't the best available. No dig at you just trying figure out the pricing. It would be interesting to compare your prices with local availability.

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Ours is fully certified with a 15 year guarantee. I believe everyone gets the same conditions from their suppliers. But yeah, I agree with your point. Now the question that begs answering is, is there a grading system for UC4 products to deduct which ones are of good quality impregnation and which ones are just straight up ****. Can you tell the visible difference?

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like I said earlier, tree species and moisture etc is important but I think the impregnation is not all that important, the fundamental problem is the chemical doesn't work.  If it penetrated 5mm into the post and it was potent enough like the old arsenic based treatment it would have killed any bacteria.

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Not sure you can tell the difference except experience of which suppliers are selling poor quality. Although spruce is easy to spot and cutting through a post will show penetration.  Its not a guarantee really just an expected service life I would like to see anyone put a claim in in 14years time. If I do ever use 15 year tanalised I make the customer aware that anything over 5 years is a bonus, (I might be wrong). 

I agree that tanalise E is only as good as green water and the more I look into the product the only difference I can see in recent years is that the wood is treated better or for longer to get more chemical in but it is still the same chemical that has proven not to work.

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If it doesn't work why are they marketing it with a 15 year guarantee? Could the process that is the issue? Plants using tanalith products trying to save money and not doing the job properly. Instead of using vacuum chambers, and then pressurising the timber, they just dip it and let it dry.. I've read that some creosote posts have the same issue, not enough penetration in the wood, I tend to believe that if the impregnation process is done properly without any shortcuts or money-saving tactics, the product should stand as advertised.

On the other note, they still use tanalith C, the arsenic one, in Africa as it's the only thing dettering the termites. And this newer Tanalith E product is supposed to be the supplement for arsenic one in the western markets.

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If it doesn't work why are they marketing it with a 15 year guarantee?

How else are they going to sell their products? Some processors have had their reputations severely damaged due to timber failure. Who is at fault, the chemical or their treatment plant is arguable but they need to do something to save their businesses.  

 

You guys will give me paranoia. All this time I thought I'm helping the customers out with introducing them to UC4 treated posts, and they'll be happy with a sturdy fence for 15 years. I'm expecting a lot of angry phone calls in a couple years time. :(

Rather you than me, I purposely avoid supplying it to avoid those phone calls!

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What about these regulations regarding creosote?

  • Since 30 April 2003 retailers can no longer sell creosote and coal tar creosote wood preservatives to the general public in Great Britain
  • Since 30 June 2003 general public can no longer use creosote and coal tar creosote wood preservatives in Great Britain
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