The use of treated wood in the marine environment has come under increasing scrutiny
mainly because of increasing environmental concerns. In addition, there have been serious
questions raised about the relative efficacy of treated wood compared to other materials such as
concrete, steel, and plastics. The NAVFAC Criteria Office, recognizing these concerns,
developed the following scope of work to be completed by NFESC:
1. Investigate current Navy practices of treating wood to be used in the marine
2. Based on current practices, review current and proposed environmental regulations to
determine whether those practices are in the best interests of the Navy.
3. Investigate and report on improved practices or methods vs. current wood treatment
4. Determine if a technical guidance update to the fleet is warranted.
5. Provide specific recommendations for changes to existing criteria documents based on
Tasks 1 through 4 constitute the main body of this paper and involve two main topics:
quality assurance and environmental concerns. These issues are best considered jointly because as
the performance of materials is improved the need for its replacement and consequent
environmental impact are reduced. In addition, poor or improper treatment practices cause the
wood product to be more directly damaging to the environment.
Task 5 is provided by Appendix A-
CURRENT NAVY PRACTICES
Current Navy practice for new shoreside construction has generally been to avoid the use
of wood components in favor of other materials, mainly concrete. For smaller projects such as
small boat docks, for the repair of older wood structures, and for the replacement of wood fender
piles, treated wood is still often the material of choice mainly because of considerably lower costs.
Recommended Navy practices for the use of preservative-treated wood is described in
considerable detail in NAVFAC MO-312 "Wood Protection." Specific criteria for design and
construction of waterfront wood piling and timber structures are contained in NFGS 2483 "Wood
Marine Piling," NFGS 2491 "Pier Timberwork," Mil Hdbk 1002/5 "Timber Structures," and Mil
Hdbk 1025/6 "General Criteria for Waterfront Construction." These recommendations and
criteria reference the American Wood Preservers' Association (AWPA) Standards for treated