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lae26 03-11-2013 08:01 PM

How important is pressure treated wood?
We bought a house that has an unfinished basement. The previous owners had done a bit of work down there, including framing everything, running electrical, and hanging drywall. We had a contractor come through to see about finishing the remaining work. Only one room doesn't have the drywall hung. He took one look at the framing, and said that it would all (the whole basement) need to come down and be redone because the pieces of wood against the slab are not pressure treated.

We had another neighbor come by who is not a contractor, but DIYed his basement finish, and he said that with the amount of work already done, he'd just leave the framing and finish it up. He said pressure treated is better, but for the cost of tearing it down and starting over, it would be near the same as tearing it down and starting over if in the future the wood became a problem. He also said that pressure treated wood is only "good" for 15-20 years anyway, and that the wood we have now would be similar to the previously pressure treated wood in a 20 year old home- still just fine, but maybe prone to more problems.

So is this true? Can we just finish up what is done for minimal cost and worry about it if it becomes a problem later? What kinds of problems would we run into/ what would we watch for?

Daniel Holzman 03-11-2013 08:09 PM

If the basement is dry, I would finish it, relax, and have a beer. If the basement is damp, the wood is prone to rotting. My basement is relatively damp, is framed in normal wood, and looks fine after more than 50 years.

lae26 03-11-2013 08:13 PM

Even the pieces against the concrete are regular wood?

COLDIRON 03-12-2013 06:18 AM

Relax as Dan said as long as it's dry down there. Mines 20 years old no pressure treated, no rot, no problem.

dftc 03-12-2013 06:34 AM

I just pulled down a bunch of non-PT furring strips that had been in direct contact with concrete for at least 15 years. They all looked great. I wouldn't sweat it too much.

hand drive 03-12-2013 07:47 AM

be mindful of mold spores over time, that would be the worst result if it did rot other than the wall dropping as the plate gives way. use a moisture meter in the space and see how much moisture you have down there... I've seen many basements that did not have treated plates but these were from the days of more hardy wood unlike what we have now, if the plates are soft pine forget it, they will not last any time.

COLDIRON 03-12-2013 10:21 AM

Come on hand drive don't be such a doomsdayer. If I were to build in the basement now I would use PT plates but if I already had a room there I'd be dammed if I would start ripping it down just because it didn't have PT plates. I would definitely check it though for moisture or rot.

paintdrying 03-12-2013 10:38 AM

I would say you are lucky, that pressure treated is loaded with chemicals that are toxic. Is their anything under the bottom plate? He may have ran a foam strip.

747 03-12-2013 11:21 AM

Very important when coming into contact with cement.

lae26 03-12-2013 11:31 AM

Thanks everyone. My husband and I were panicking a bit, so this is good that it might not be a complete tear down. I don't what kind of wood it is, but it is the same wood the rest of the framing is done with. There is nothing under it between the wood and the slab. We've been in the house for a year, including during a very rainy season, and the basement doesn't have any leaks or noticeable moisture. But there is unnoticeable moisture coming off the cement naturally, right? If it were to rot, what would that mean? Is there something we can do in the un-drywalled room to slide plastic under the wood?

kaschmid3 03-12-2013 12:03 PM

It has not rotted yet but if cover it (ie Sheetrock) it will because it can't breathe know it may rake moisture but it can breathe (I'm not going yo say if u leave it it won't rot over time either). If u r that worried about it mark where bottom plate is on slab then sawzall from studs n put treated down n re nail u may also want sill seal ( foam wrap ) under wood

paintdrying 03-12-2013 02:17 PM

The problem is that most people do not do things the wrong way. If these other poster had as much experience doing things the wrong way as I have they would know your bottom plate will be fine for a very very long time. Similar situation my brother's wife called me up in near tears saying her bottom plate on their new house was regular wood. Contractor gave her a huge bid, have to be all torn out. I laughed and told her my brother will be gone long before that wood. Glad she thought that was so funny, brother is gone, wood is still fine.

lae26 03-12-2013 02:52 PM

Thanks, I feel much better!

Daniel Holzman 03-12-2013 06:11 PM

Just to be perfectly clear. My basement has flooded twice in the last 21 years (as long as I have owned it) up to 14 inches of water when the sump pump failed. The basement is framed entirely in relatively low quality pine and fir, in direct contact with concrete. The basement has been there since 1959, and other than a few stains on the wood, it looks perfect. There is zero rot, no mold, no problem.

There is absolutely nothing special about the wood in my basement. And my sill, which is also in direct contact with concrete, is 6x6 fir, totally untreated. It is also in perfect condition after 54 years in place.

I know the PT industry likes to sell PT lumber by arguing that if it isn't PT it is going to rot away immediately if it gets wet or damp, but this is simply not the case.

mj12 03-12-2013 09:36 PM

Thank you Danial, I agree. Pt wood is actually very reactive to other materials. Allthough not as toxic as in the past it is bad stuff to be using in your home. I can not tell you how many walls I have torn into that were framed in the dirt ( below Grade) 80 years ago and were still holding together, somewhat.

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