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Treated or untreated wood for stalls?

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  • Treated or untreated wood for stalls?

    Alright... the guy at the lumber yard looked at me like I had 3 heads when I wanted untreated tongue and groove for the stalls aside from the bottom few rows that are in contact with the ground and wet shavings. He said nobody buys untreated and it's perfectly fine for horses. His knowledge was that it was arsenic that was use to treat the wood and that's what was toxic, but there's nothing in it to hurt them anymore. Said he could get untreated but had no idea why I wanted it. So... thought I would ask the COTH pros before I bought anything!

  • #2
    I don't know the details--someone here will, for sure--but it's true that the chemicals used to treat the wood are different now.

    You will get a lot of different opinions on this--I used treated wood throughout. Horses have not had a problem with it but no extensive beavering going on. Others feel it's a problem. Your call.
    Tinwhistle Farm


    • #3
      Your guy was right - the chemicals to treat the wood no longer include arsenic.

      That said, two of the barns we've done have been treated on the bottom, and untreated on the top. But we stained/sealed the untreated wood on the outside, to keep the bugs and the mould off.

      If you put your tongue-in-groove in a J channel or U channel, it won't matter whether or not it's treated, as the wood will be able to expand and contract according to its moisture content. The biggest problem with treated tongue-in-groove in fixed stall walls is that the wood tends to shrink quite a bit. If that's not an issue, either will do. As N&B&T said, your call.
      In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
      A life lived by example, done too soon.


      • #4
        Treated wood will last longer, and often horses won't chew it as badly.

        You have to understand that horses LOVE wood, and untreated pine, softer woods, are like candy. They will reduce your new untreated wood walls to scrap in no time at all, treated wood might take a bit longer to chew down. Insects also LOVE untreated wood, help weaken it with boring and chewing from the inside out. Raw wood products like boards, just have a very hard life in the barn if not protected.

        Most woods are now treated with copper based products, have the greenish cast to the color as new wood. Arsenic isn't used that I know of, leaches into the soil, cancer causing, like the previous creosote preservatives now unavailable. Treated wood shrinks a LOT, as does untreated wood. Something to consider when building barns and stall walls.

        You should plan on edging any wood corners that stick out, windows, top boards, door edges, so horse can't get started chewing. This would be for both untreated or treated wood. The real wood chewers are not discouraged by treated wood, you have to still protect wood with covered or metal edgings.

        We used rough-cut lumber from the sawmill, oak. Tasted very bad with the tannin, nasty texture with not having been planed smooth. We still covered all edges, did not give horses a place to nibble any of the wood.


        • #5
          Treated for the bottom board, untreated for the rest.
          I will either use spar varnish or a stain or something else to seal the untreated wood, but I think less is better as far as chemicals that penetrate the wood from a harmful to the environment and carcinogenic. I will use it on the bottom board just because of termites and contact with the ground.

          I also do not use treated wood for my decks either.
          save lives...spay/neuter/geld


          • #6
            I didn't do tongue and groove, but did put treated for the bottom two boards and rough cut 5/4'" oak on up. It's wearing like iron.


            • #7
              the horses will not eat the oak, but they will eat pine, so you need to buy some angle iron. You put it on the top board, and the angle sits on top and around the stall side, basically an L shape. The horses can't get to the pine and it saves your pine boards.
              save lives...spay/neuter/geld


              • #8
                We re-boarded our stalls using oak boards - the boards were put through a "finisher" - to smooth them and thus avoid snagging blankets. The oak looks good and wears extremely well.
                Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


                • #9
                  I used u-channels with 2x6 lumber pine. First three were Pt, rest were not treated.

                  Why? Because the untreated is a whole lot cheaper! If he is selling the lumber to you then of course he will want you to buy the more expensive stuff. You only buy PT where you need to, when the wood will come in contact with moisture.

                  I did not use tongue and grove, however if it is only available in PT then that would limit you.
                  No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle. ~Winston Churchill


                  • #10
                    Availability of the untreated usually isn't an issue. If a dealer only stocks treated T&G, they can get untreated T&G, even if it's a special order. As MSP said, the untreated is a lot cheaper, and there's less call for it, so dealers often won't stock or promote it. Doesn't mean they can't get it, though, and usually pretty quickly.
                    In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
                    A life lived by example, done too soon.


                    • Original Poster

                      Thanks! I haven't bought wood in FOREVER so had no idea how much to expect. He quoted $9.69 for a treated 2x6x12 tongue and groove board. Curious how much the untreated is now!!

                      Will it make a difference regardless if I'm staining and varnishing to seal it?


                      • #12
                        It's best to wait awhile to paint/varnish/stain treated wood. It's pretty wet from the treating process and it needs to dry sufficiently to take the paint et al. The exception to that is if it is kiln dried after treatment to reduce the moisture content.

                        I used all treated for my stalls since it is a shedrow barn and all the boards are exposed to the weather with the exception of the half wall fronts which have the protection of the overhang, that wasn't significant enough volume to do with white wood.

                        The chemicals in treated wood are now all copper based and in some cases micronized copper so the boards don't have a green tint. It's a super nice and affordable product and really great for decks, stalls, etc.
                        Last edited by Debbie; Sep. 3, 2009, 11:21 AM. Reason: typo
                        If you believe everything you read, better not read. -- Japanese Proverb


                        • #13
                          You really only need the treated wood at the bottom row, not the rest of it. It won't hurt anything if you use treated wood throughout but the untreated wood is so much cheaper than the treated one. The current treating process is no longer toxic.

                          I highly recomment that you stain all four sides of the wood to protect moisture from entering. Those wood will cost you a small fortune so you want to do everything you can to protect your investment.

                          Oh another thing is, if you use T&G, longer is not necessarily better... It is usually cheaper per linear foot if you get longer ones (ex 16' vs 12') but it is such a hug pain to tab a long not-perfectly-straight board together... That 2' and 4' make a huge difference as to how easy it is to handle.


                          • #14
                            I have treated along the bottom, untreated the rest of the way up with galvanized chew-guards EVERYWHERE that a horse could possibly reach. Sealed all the stalls with all-purpose deck/concrete sealer. Three years later, the stalls are 100% sound, no damage, holding up great.

                            DO make sure, if you're buying pressure-treated lumber, to lay it down, weight it, and let it dry before you cut or use it. It will warp like crazy if you cut and use it while it's still wet.
                            Click here before you buy.


                            • #15
                              I use treated wood but not conventional treated wood. Never had a problem.

                              oak - pressure treated to remove water. Not pressure treated in the conventional sense where they add chemicals to keep out bugs. Just to lower the water content.

                              Then I used a water sealer that is safe for livestock. Cost 35.00 for five gallons, but works a treat, and only reapply after 5 years. Oh, jeez, what is that stuff..ok here it is: tung oil. Works a treat and horses don't seem to crib or chew the boards, repels water and bugs.


                              • #16
                                I used treated lumber for only the bottom boards, as many pp have done.

                                Although the newer alternatives are less toxic, they're not completely non-toxic.

                                Here's a link to the MSDS of Copper Azole, one common preservative currently in use http://www.petersonwoodtreating.com/CA_MSDS.pdf
                                "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
                                -Edward Hoagland


                                • #17
                                  thanks for this thread...
                                  my little barn is about complete, and builder used treated on the bottom two boards and untreated up top...
                                  but, its all pine. This is inside an older existing outbuilding and we were amazed at how nasty the carpenter bees were in the frame boards (which were all red cedar, so I dunno ? if that made a difference?) Anyway...I had read that staining/sealing can help deter the insects as well, ,so can anyone comment on what would be best to use? Also...I DO want to cover the exposed edges with metal, but am curious if anyone can suggest where / what to get that is most inexpensive?

                                  "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
                                  --Jimmy Buffett


                                  • #18
                                    Angle iron is your friend, in the stalls.

                                    For the stall doors, if you have low ones, it's even easier and cheaper; get a length of 3" PVC pipe, split it, and put it over the top of the stall door. The circumference is too large for even the most determined cribber/chewer to get its jaws around it, and even if they do, they can't pull it off. Works a treat.

                                    As for the wood treatment, Thompson's Water Seal is great, and comes in a variety of finishes/colors.
                                    In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
                                    A life lived by example, done too soon.