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Published on: March 4th, 2013
Accoya is the world’s leading high technology wood. Created from sustainably sourced softwood; it matches or exceeds the durability, stability and beauty of the very best tropical hardwoods.
The Accoya wood production process takes sustainably-sourced, fast growing softwood and, in a non toxic process, creates a durable and stable wood. You may remember hardening ‘conkers’ with vinegar as a child; this process works in much the same way.
The technology behind Accoya is based on acetylation, a process that has been studied by scientists around the world for more than 75 years. This method of improving wood has been proven to deliver such superior performance that it has long been used as the “gold standard” against which other methods are measured.
Acetylation effectively changes the free hydroxyls within the wood into acetyl groups. This is done by reacting the wood with acetic anhydride, which comes from acetic acid. When the free hydroxyl group is transformed to an acetyl group, the ability of the wood to absorb water is greatly reduced, rendering the wood more dimensionally stable and, because it is no longer digestible, extremely durable.
This process is forced throughout the body of the wood, so when Accoya® wood is cut or jointed there are no exposed non-acetylated surfaces in any dimension. This completely negates the need to apply additional chemical preservatives on-site, as is necessary with unmodified or envelope-treated woods.
The end user can expect a number of benefits from using this timber:
– The stability of the timber will increase the lifespan of all external products. Typically, we would expect our hardwood products to last for 50 years in external service with maintenance adhered to. Accoya should add a further ten years to this service life. As you will note from some of the old windows and doors still in service in the UK, products can last significantly longer than these quoted figures if well maintained.
– The hardness of the timber makes it less susceptible to denting or damage, and therefore increases the likelihood of maintaining the paint coating in the long-term. This, in turn, improves the longevity of the products.
– The hard and consistent structure produces a finer finish under sanding, and the lack of absorption of water from the paint mean that the final finish quality is better than for hardwood products. We can achieve a greater finish still by undergoing a grain fill process prior to painting.
– This timber can be grown in 25 years, but will last 60 years in application – thus making it a net absorber of CO2 and an incredibly green building material.
The downside to this material is that while the trees are grown in New Zealand and the acetylisation process occurs in The Netherlands, it will always be expensive. The raw timber costs three times as much as our standard hardwoods. On a typical window, this means that an Accoya product will have a price premium of roughly 15% over a Sapele or Idigbo product.
For more information on the Sustainability aspects of Accoya timber, please click this link Accoya Sustainability Quick Sheet. If you would like to visit the Accoya website for more information, then please click this link http://www.accoya.com/. Don’t worry, both of these links will open in a new window, so you can come back and finish reading this blog posting.
Typically, we use this material in external applications, including windows (of all kinds), doors and conservatories. There are some applications where Accoya is particularly well suited, including long runs of sliding, folding doors, projects where final quality is absolutely critical and highly exposed external applications. We have completed a number of large external joinery projects from Accoya timber, and it is quickly becoming the material of choice for new builders concerned with environmental impact.
If you are considering using this timber for your upcoming renovations/new build, then please do get in touch. We always welcome customers to visit the factory and view samples of our products and of this material. Similarly, if you’re not sure if this is for you, we would be happy to discuss your requirements and give you an honest opinion.