Do I have to seal pressure treated wood planter boxes?

cindyr_napa(94558)April 23, 2010

My friend is putting together some wooden planter raised bed boxes for vegetables. The wood is pressure treated and he thinks the wood has to be painted to seal out copper and arsenic. I can't recall ever seeing painted raised beds. Seems to me they are usually bare wood, but I don't know if they're pressure treated. So - should the wood be painted? If so, can it just be primed on the insides? Thanks!

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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

pressure treated wood is normally NOT used for edible plantings because it can leach toxins....

I do not know if paint or sealer will be enough protection. Sorry.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 11:45PM
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As a home builder I use a significant quantity of PT wood. New chemical formulations have supposedly reduced the toxicity and possibly the performance of the treated wood products we buy. The old PT presented health risks either from burning or breathing the saw dust, not to mention handling because of the arsenic content.

I've asked the manufacturers about the safety of using PT for vegetable gardening and have not received a very "thumb's up" response and have concluded it's probably not safe. I'll be building a raised bed garden with something other than PT.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 8:31AM
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you can try using Lifetime Wood Treatment (link below) as a non-toxic preservative on non-treated wood. I found mine at a local paint store, or you can order it online.

Will it last as long as PT? Probably not - but it might make it last long enough, especially if you are using some thicker lumber to start with.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lifetime Wood Treatment

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 9:19AM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Painting the insides is not going to prevent leaching of chemicals. It's correct that PT wood uses less toxic chemicals, but I still would not use them in raised beds. I recently made some raised beds. For one set I used untreated cedar, and for another I used Trex-type synthetic lumber. If your friend has already constructed these beds and is intent on using them, then he should at least would lay down some heavy gauge visqueen all along the interior perimeter to lessen migration of chemicals.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 10:13PM
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stressbaby(z6 MO)

I lined the insides of my pressure treated raised beds with 2 layers of poly stapled to the inside.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 8:56AM
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This is a good article. The PTW now on the market is not CCA, so arsenic is not an issue. The ACQ will require the coated (usually green) screws to prevent corrosion.

Here is a link that might be useful: Does Pressure-Treated Wood Belong in Your Garden?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 12:00PM
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Good point Cowgirl. PT lumber corrodes fasteners, including Simpson hardware. Some years back they developed a zinc coated product to withstand corrosion. Codes now require that fastener product. I use approved hardware when in contact with PT on all of my projects.


    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 11:05PM
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I wonder if plastic 2 X 6 decking would be more suitable for raised beds. I know of a store that sells "mill ends" of short pieces by the pallet pretty cheap- most pieces are 4' long and seams could be stagered to make sturdy walls.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 10:01AM
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Since Trex, etc. is not t&g, you'd have no way to stabilize joints broken at random intervals, unless you did some cleating, tying pieces above and below joint together. You'd risk a "blow out, d.o. pressure, of course.


    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 10:16AM
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