This investigation alleges that TimberSIL, a wood product from Timber Treatment Technologies, is defective and suffers from premature rotting.
TimberSIL is a glass-infused wood, used as an alternative to traditional wood, for outdoor steps, decks, porches, handrails, and other similar uses. It is advertised to be eco-friendly because it does not contain materials that are environmentally toxic and because, unlike conventional treated wood, it can later be mulched.
Its maker, Timber Treatment Technologies, promotes is as “an effective barrier in lumber to rot, decay and common wood problems” without the use of toxic ingredients. It also offers a forty-year warranty on the product. However, a 2009 study by the Department of Wood Science Engineering at Oregon State University found that TimberSIL wood was “only slightly resistant to decay,” and therefore unsuitable for exterior exposure.
TimberSIL was used extensively for rebuilding in New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina. In particular, actor Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation rebuilt over one hundred homes in the Lower Ninth Ward, between 2008 and 2010, designing them with an eye towards making them eco-friendly and energy-efficient. However, by 2013, the foundation claims it was receiving complaints from residents that the decks and stairs built with TimberSIL were showing signs of rot and decay.
The current investigation alleges that, despite the product’s forty-year warranty users of TimberSIL have found problems within only a few months or years of use of the product, including the following:
The Make It Right Foundation claims that it attempted to negotiate a settlement with the company, but that it was unable to resolve the matter. It has now filed a lawsuit alleging that TimberSIL is a defective product, and that Timber Treatment both “falsely advertised and misrepresented” the product and “failed to honor its product warranty or to take corrective action.” It believes that the wood must now be replaced.
In an even more eyebrow-raising assertion, the lawsuit claims that Make It Right was also contacted in 2013 by an investor in TimberSIL who said that the company was “taking shortcuts with the TimberSIL infusion process, which resulted in a defective product.”
Other users of TimberSIL are also believed to have had problems with the product. For example, contractors renovating a nineteenth-century inn in Massachusetts claim that the TimberSIL they used would not hold paint and could not withstand the inn’s northern climate. They say that they were forced to replace the TimberSIL at a cost of $100,000.
TimberSIL and Timber Treatment Technologies are thus now the subject of an investigation into the material’s possible defects and the company’s potential breaches of warranty.