Folsom's Rainbow Bridge

Folsom's Rainbow Bridge
Rainbow Bridge crossing the American River in Folsom, CA

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lumber Mold

House with siding and shingles
Hello and welcome to Local Fruit. It has been a few weeks since I last posted an update on the construction of our home. Although framing and trim have taken longer than we expected, the project is moving along quickly now!

The siding shingles and trim are almost completed, as are rough plumbing and rough electrical. This week’s short blog is about an incredible process to protect and preserve the wooden members of a construction project using a corn product that also cleans the wood beautifully.

Mold stain on framing

Lumber Yard Molds

When framing in the winter, like we did, lumber comes to the job site from the lumber yard in a variety of conditions ranging from damp to slightly discolored (lumber yard mold). Depending on how much exposure the wood has had to rain and the sugar content of the wood, the lumber yard mold may range in color from green/blue to grey to black. In our case, the house and apartment were framed during a very long rainy season. Here is a photo of the lumber yard mold in the apartment structure. After questioning the builder about the growth in the wood, we decided to get an independent test of the wood just in case there were spores that were dangerous. After all, only a tape test analyzed by a qualified (certified) mold specialist can determine what species are present and make recommendations as to the removal of the growth.
Corn cleaning product

The tape test confirmed the presence of lumber yard mold in the apartment and in several areas in the main house. After speaking with our builder, we decided to remediate the condition using a company that follows a two-step process to treat all exposed wood: remove the growths using high pressure blast of corn fractions (like corn meal) and then apply a weak borate solution. Both steps are completely natural and chemical free, contain zero VOC’s and improve air quality after use. But this is why we chose to proceed: the end product is a clean structure at a reasonable cost.

Corn fractions after cleaning

Corn fractions up close

Borate Solution - 100% natural

After power blasting the wood, the team used air pressure to blow out all dust and debris from the house. Then they applied the borate solution which is claimed to prevent mold, mildew, moss, fungi, termites, etc. The remediation company, MoldGaurd USA, Inc. backs up their marketing claims with a guarantee against future growth.

The very green process is used in commercial multi-family construction projects to reduce both cleaning costs and liability of future mold growth. The before and after photos on their web site are very convincing and in our case the house was spotless when the team left. Unfortunately the electrician and HVAC guys came in the next day and made fresh sawdust… more for us to sweep each day.
Our builder, Gai Kirkegaard Construction, is calling for the framing inspection this week, and insulation installation next week. The heart of this house is the envelope, with efficient windows, clean walls and great insulation. The next posting should be about out insulation and our application to the California Advanced Homes Partnership for energy incentives.

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