Can You Use Pressure Treated Wood Indoors: Dangers & Uses (2023 Guide)
Pressure treated wood is a common material that’s extremely useful for outdoor applications. This type of wood can withstand the elements day in and day out which makes it perfect for decks and other exterior projects.
But can you use pressure treated wood indoors?
I’ll explore if you can use pressure treated wood indoor, the potential dangers of using pressure treated wood indoors, and much more. Let’s dig in.
Pressure treated wood can be used indoors in some instances, but not always. You should be very careful when using treated wood inside because of the potential dangers. Never use it for projects that come close to your food, young children, or pets.
In This Article:
What is Pressure Treated Wood?
Pressure treated wood is a type of wood that undergoes a high pressure chemical treatment to make the wood much more durable, water resistant, and mold resistant.
Fungicides and insecticides make up the chemicals leaching inside a piece of pressure treated lumber.
While these chemicals are deadly to bugs they are okay to most people in houses. However, the chemical seepage is why pressure treated wood should not be utilized in items like cutting boards or countertops in kitchens.
Some common boards are pressure treated wood can be used for a variety of woodworking projects.
Types of Preservatives In Pressure Treated Wood
When working with pressure treated wood, it’s critical to understand the preservatives used inside a traditional piece. This information can help you better understand the potential dangers of the material inside a home.
Here are the typical preservatives used to form pressure treated wood:
- Oil-based preservatives, used for structural support
- Copper Azole is used to prevent mold and make the wood insect resistant
- Alkaline copper quaternary used to prevent decay, insect damage, and fungi
- Chromated copper arsenate used to kill pests
Most chemicals work to strengthen the wood or make the treated wood stronger so it lasts longer.
Although chemicals typically don’t leech on the surface, they can be dangerous.
Ensure the pieces aren’t in eating areas or in a spot where animals or babies can chew on the edges of the material.
Can You Use Pressure Treated Wood Indoors?
Pressure treated wood can be dangerous if used in the wrong way in an indoor environment.
However, it is possible to use it indoors as long as you keep it away from locations where it will come in contact with food.
You should also avoid it if there’s the potential for pets or little kids to chew on the product.
Pressure treated lumber works as a sturdy material inside a home, and is more sturdy than untreated wood.
However, it is also more dangerous than using a traditional piece of lumber indoors.
Let’s talk about the advantages and disadvantages of pressure treated wood indoors.
Advantages of Pressure Treated Wood Indoors
Pressure treated wood is one of the strongest materials out there when it comes to creating your next project.
It can withstand all elements, such as harsh sun rays or powerful rain. What other advantages come with pressure treated wood?
Here are a few of the most prominent positives of this material inside:
- It prevents fungal growth and bug invasion
- It has resistance to moisture
- The cost is worth it after enough time passes
- It’s more fire-resistant than most material choices
There’s plenty of good that comes with pressure treated lumber.
Of course, there are always some disadvantages that come with the material.
Disadvantages of Pressure Treated Wood Indoors
One of the worst things about pressure treated lumber is that it holds chemical treatment.
While this process makes the wood strong, it can also make it toxic to the average person if somehow ingested.
Here are a few of the most common negatives of using pressure treated lumber indoors:
- It has the potential to warp and shrink
- It’s tricky to recycle
- It’s not the most eco-friendly option for manufacturing
Dangers of Using Pressure Treated Wood Indoors
In some cases, using pressure treated wood indoors can be dangerous. Here’s a few of the dangers of using pressure treated wood indoors.
- Flammability. Because of the chemical makeup of pressure treated lumber, it’s much more flammable than untreated wood. If you’re using it next to a gas stove, this is a recipe for disaster. I recommend leaving treated wood out of the kitchen.
- Breathing in the chemicals can cause lung distress. The harsh chemicals used to make pressure treated wood can cause lung distress when used indoors. While there are some applications that might be better suited than others, if you’re in close contact to the wood, just be careful to limit your exposure.
- Chemical seepage into food sources. I don’t recommend using pressure treated wood around your food. The chemicals can seep into your food and cause potential health issues down the road.
Where To Use Pressure Treated Wood Inside
If used correctly, pressure treated wood indoors is an excellent and durable product.
Where are the best places to put pressure treated wood inside? Does it matter? Are some locations better than others?
Some spots can benefit from pressure treated wood while keeping members out of harm’s way.
Floors are one of the most popular uses for pressure treated wood indoors.
It works best as a subfloor option, a layer beneath the material used as the main covering on top. It’s not what people see, but it provides support nonetheless.
A sub-flooring made out of pressure treated wood will:
- Defend the floor from the mold when water is involved
- Keep bugs out of the wood
- Prevent fungi from growing
- Make the floor strong
If you live in an area where the additional liquid is an issue, try utilizing pressure treated wood as a sub-flooring option. It will provide a defense and help you save money on potential fixes needed in the future.
Sill plates make another excellent use for pressure treated wood.
This item attaches to the bottom of a door or a wall, providing an anchor to the foundation underneath. It also keeps unwanted moisture out of the home.
If you have an interior or exterior door that needs this type of defense, pressure treated wood is an excellent option.
It’s made of a durable material that can last longer than the traditional wooden options and it’s made to withstand terrible circumstances and won’t grow mold or fungi.
A moisture barrier around your door can come in handy, especially if you live where humidity is common.
Pressure treated wood also works well for both indoor furniture and outdoor furniture (like my 2×4 bench!).
Hardwoods can warp over time (check out these ways to prevent warping wood), and it’s more expensive to purchase.
With pressure treated materials, you won’t experience much warping – making it an ideal choice instead of using non treated wood.
Here are a few pieces of furniture you can make from this wood:
It’s critical to note that pressure treated wood should not be used for tables or anything food sits on daily.
Pressure treated wood works well as framing material for a home.
It can keep bugs and moisture troubles out of the home, so it will lay a foundation that will keep the house in quality shape for a long time.
Using pressure treated wood won’t warp like untreated lumber if placed in an environment with high humidity.
Anything that can prevent mold from the inside of a home is certainly worth it.
Although it has chemicals inside, this material can benefit a house tremendously. It’s an excellent option to consider if you’re in the process of creating a new place to live.
Many locations in a home have the chance to be exposed to water and high humidity, such as basements and attics.
Pressure treated wood works well as wall paneling that can prevent a room from falling victim to bug infestation or the growth of mold.
One of the best parts about wall paneling from pressure treated wood is that it is simple to install.
You can paint or stain the wood treated to ensure that it matches the rest of your basement making it a great choice for interior framing.
Why Treat Wood With Pressure?
Pressure treated wood is not very environmentally friendly, as noted by the environmental protection agency.
It also has the potential to be dangerous to people who live in the home if the chemicals are ingested. What’s the point of treating wood in this manner?
Wood treated with pressure:
- Can withstand intense weather and water
- Prevents against growth
- Keeps bugs out of the wood
How Can You Tell If Wood is Pressure Treated?
Maybe you want wood that has been treated with pressure. Or maybe you want to stay away from this material at all costs. Regardless of your preference, how can you tell if the wood is treated with pressure? Are there any distinctive features to ensure you know what material is what?
Here are a few ways you can determine if a piece of wood is pressure treated:
- Smell: Wood that has been treated will smell like strong oil or chemicals.
- Dimensions: Treated wood is a little longer and thicker than traditional pieces of lumber. Compare it to other wood in the aisle.
- Swipe test: There are swipe tests available to help determine chemicals in a piece of wood.
- Retention level: High retention level means more durable material.
- Color: There is a specific color that comes with each piece of wood.
- Stamp: This item informs a buyer where to use the wood and what it is.
- End tag: This item displays the preservative rating, preservative, and company.
Safety of Pressure Treated Wood
It’s critical to note that pressure treated wood is not the safest material out there.
The chemicals and oils soaked into the material can be toxic to humans if ingested.
Although it’s not supposed to leak out, there is still a risk that chemicals could gather on the surface of the product.
If you have young children or pets, ensure you don’t place the pressure-treated lumber in a spot where they can be chewed or come in contact with food. Don’t use this material to make tables, countertops, or other spots where food products can sit.
Tools Necessary to Handle Pressure Treated Wood
When handling pressure treated lumber, it’s critical to handle it safely.
You need proper tools to ensure the lumber gets from one place to another without the risk of the transfer of toxic chemicals from the wood to your hands.
Here are a few of the tools that work well to handle pressure treated lumber:
- Gloves and a long-sleeve shirt to defend the skin
- Vacuum to get rid of the dust and chips to remove chemicals
- Disposable tarp to make cleaning up easier
- Safety goggles and a mask to prevent wood in the eyes and the lungs
Try to avoid handling this material with your bare hands if possible.
When Should You Avoid Pressure Treated Wood Inside?
If you want to use pressure treated wood inside, there are many locations where it works well. However, there are several instances where you should avoid the use of this material.
At the very least, wait and ensure the location is safe if any of these apply to you.
Ensure you double-check if you:
- Have a baby
- Want to build in a location with food and water
- Own a pet
Pressure treated lumber can cause harm in some of these cases.
Babies that lie in a crib aren’t an issue. You hold them and feed them, and they can’t move anywhere.
Pressure treated lumber becomes an issue when that child shifts into the crawling phase of their life.
A crawling baby has the potential to:
- Put their mouth on the chemicals
- Chew on the corner of pressure treated lumber
- Eat items off of the wood
Children are unpredictable, and taking your eyes off a crawling baby for a moment could lead to contact with this wood.
If you want to be extra careful, avoid pressure treated lumber until your child is old enough not to chew wood. You can also place the lumber in a place no one can touch it for additional safety.
Food and Water Locations
Take care when using pressure treated wood in a location where food and water are placed.
If a thick plate or padding isn’t used, there is a potential that the chemicals might seep into the food item.
It can be tempting to make a countertop from pressure treated lumber, but it’s best to avoid it. You don’t want to expose yourself to chemicals.
Pets should be treated like babies when it comes to pressure treated lumber.
Puppies and kittens, and their fully-grown counterparts, tend to chew on wood.
They are also much closer to the ground than you are and closer to potential chemicals that may seep out of the wood.
If you want to ensure your pet stays safe, avoid the use of pressure treated lumber.
You can also use the material in a location that is far out of the way to take away the chance that your animal might find the material in their mouth. Take care to keep everyone in the home safe, especially the furry friends.
Is Pressure Treated Lumber Toxic?
Pressure treated wood is toxic if ingested due to the chemicals used in the pressure treatment process.
If you do ingest pressure treated wood, you should contact Poison Control or 911 immediately.
Final Thoughts on Can You Use Pressure Treated Wood Indoors
Pressure treated wood is an excellent outdoor material, and it also comes in handy indoors.
It prevents the infestation of bugs and defends against mold and other growths. Still, it’s critical to note that chemicals are infused inside this material.
Ensure you keep it away from food, water, babies, and any pets in the home.
You can use pressure treated wood in many indoor cases, but it’s best to double check where you want to use this type of lumber indoors before going full steam ahead.