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  • Public defence: 2019-03-13 13:00 Södrasalen, Hus M, Växjö
    Sjökvist, Tinh
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Technology, Department of Forestry and Wood Technology.
    Coated Norway Spruce: Influence of Wood Characteristics on Water Sorption and Coating Durability2019Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Wood used outdoors is often degraded and discoloured by microorganisms as a natural part of its life cycle, particularly when exposed to high levels of moisture for prolonged times. In this case, the application of a coating (i.e. paint) is an option for increasing the service life of the wood.

    Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) is commonly used for outdoor applications in Sweden. Earlier studies have shown that uncoated spruce heartwood is less prone to moisture sorption in outdoor exposure, resulting in lower moisture content (MC) levels, as compared to sapwood. However, studies related to the above mentioned characteristics are rather limited for coated spruce, especially including the influence of outdoor exposure (i.e. weathering).

    The aim of this thesis is, therefore, to increase the knowledge of how heartwood and sapwood of different densities influence on the durability of coated Norway spruce for outdoor use. Different types of coatings with alkyd-, acrylic-, flour- (calcimine paint), or linseed-oil-based resin were included. The objectives were to study the water sorption (including MC variation) behaviour and crack formation of uncoated and coated heartwood and sapwood of different densities.

    Furthermore was an objective to study the microbial growth on the surface of similar samples of coated spruce in outdoor exposure. The used methods included wetting and liquid permeability experiments, accelerated water absorption (with samples floating freely in water), and outdoor field test. The field method lasted between three to five years and involved monitoring of the MC variation, the crack formation and the microbial growth on the samples.

    The results based on wetting measurements using octane as the adsorbed liquid showed no difference in liquid permeability between the spruce heartwood and sapwood samples of comparable densities, and indicated a similar level of pit aspiration (closure). The common flow path between two cells of conifers occurs through the pits. Still, the sapwood samples had in general a clearly higher water sorption rate than heartwood samples. It could be concluded that the increased sorption was presumably caused by a lowered water surface tension, most likely by a contamination effect of the water by surface-active sapwood extractives rather than differences in morphology of heartwood and sapwood.

    However, no clear difference in water absorption and MC levels was seen between coated heartwood and sapwood in the field study or in the accelerated water absorption study. Thus, it is suggested that a coating hinders the surfaceactive extractives to lower the water surface tension, resulting in a similar water absorption behaviour of coated heartwood and sapwood. The influence of density on water sorption of coated spruce was similarly to uncoated spruce, meaning the low-density samples had a higher MC than the high-density samples in the field tests. Furthermore, a one-year weathering of the coated and uncoated samples caused a larger increase in water sorption of high-density heartwood in the accelerated water absorption study.

    The field study on uncoated and calcimine-coated spruce showed a higher number of cracks on the high-density samples than on the low-density samples. Additionally, within each density group, a larger number of cracks were seen on sapwood samples as compared to heartwood samples. High-density samples with an alkyd- or an acrylic coating also showed a higher number of cracks. As expected, the formation of cracks on the samples increased their water sorption significantly. The microbial growth was higher on sapwood than on heartwood samples with a white coloured alkyd coating.

    The main conclusion is that heartwood and sapwood of different densities influence the water sorption and durability of coated Norway spruce. However, the principles in water sorption of uncoated heartwood and sapwood could not be applied to coated samples. Overall, the results point out that low-density heartwood could be the best material combination to improve the durability of coated spruce in outdoor use. The knowledge acquired in this thesis can enable an increased service life of coated spruce in outdoor use. The increase in service life is achieved by a careful selection of the wood material regarding the proportion of heartwood and to the choice of wood density. As a concluding remark, the role of surface-active spruce extractives needs to be explored, and a follow-up investigation in the context of water sorption is suggested for future research.