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What's the Difference Between Green and Brown Timber

Key Benefits of Pressure Treated Fencing

Timber is a type of wood that is used in various building, landscaping, gardening and carpentry projects and it is usually a key component for the job at hand. Many Builders Merchants, including Lawsons will stock and sell timber in green or brown variants. But have you ever wondered what is the difference between green and brown timber?  In this blog we explore the key differences, treatment methods and maintenance.


What is Green Timber?

When you think of green timber you may visualise a green colour which is similar to a crisp green grass colour, however, green timber doesn’t really refer to the colour of the timber as green timber is a natural wooden colour with a hint of green.

The green hue in the timber is not the intended colour but rather the natural result of the timber pressure treating process, which is in place to ensure the timber has a longer life and is durable.  The copper-based preservatives used in the vacuum pressure treatment plant reacts with the air and oxidises, which as a result leaves the pressure treated timber with a tint of green on its surface - what you see when you purchase green timber.  

This is not the deliberate colour of the timber nor the desired finish, it is just the natural finish of the copper chemicals oxidising during the treatment. Due to this being an industrial process, it is important to note that the shade of each green timber will vary. You can always paint your timber to your desired colour.   


What is Brown Timber?

Brown timber is a traditional dark brown coloured wood, which follows the same pressure treated process as green timber to extend the timbers life but the only difference is to achieve the brown colour, a brown dye is added to the copper preservative mix. This brown dye gives the timber an appearance of the traditional brown wood colour we are more familiar with.

While selecting brown timber may be more desired due to its traditional appearance, it’s worth noting that the dye is added as an industrial preservation process rather than a decorative finish as eventually all treated timber will fade in colour over time (this can be prevented by regular maintenance).  

To achieve a specific colour with your timber, we recommend painting your timber or using wood stains.   


So, what is the difference?

To summarise, green timber is the trades terminology which refers to any timber that has been treated but left in its natural colour (pale wood with hints of green) post treatment. The difference between green and brown timber, is that brown timber is also pressure treated but has a traditional brown finish due to a brown dye being added to the pressure treatment process. This does make brown timber slightly more expensive.  

What timber colour is best for me?   

Ultimately, whether you choose brown or green timber will depend on what you will be using it for, your personal preference and what your local builders merchant has in stock.

For example, at Lawsons, we stock both green and brown fence panels, what you choose will generally depend on what you prefer. In the UK, it has been observed that choosing brown or green panels may depend on your location and area you live in.  

Whatever timber colour you choose, you can always paint over the timber to achieve your preferred colour.


Is Green or Brown Timber treated?

 Yes, both green and brown timber is treated to extend its life, the process is known as pressure treatment. Pressure treatment will protect timber against decay, rotting, insect, and fungal attack. The process involves chemical preservatives being forced deep into the middle of the timber (not just surface coating) to ensure enhanced protection to extend the life of timber as untreated timber will decay.


How to care for your timber?

With time the colour of timber will fade to a golden brown and eventually to a silver-grey colour, however you can adopt simple and easy measures to prevent this such as using wood preservatives and regular maintenance. This should ensure your timber or wooden fence have a long life for as long as possible.



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