The term "Wood protection" encompasses applications across a wide spectrum of wood-derived materials, products and concepts. The International Research Group on Wood Protection is a research-oriented organization that exists within the wider interests in forest-derived materials across various organizations and industries.
This area of the IRG website has been developed to provide information and links to various resources related to the protection of wood-based materials from various forms of degradation that can be encountered during the service life of materials. While such degradation vectors are primarily fungal or insect related, they also include fire, weathering, etc.
One component of wood-based products protection is to define in some manner the hazard or use category for the biological hazards that are encountered. While these vary around the world, as is the manner and type of materials used, there is general acceptance of a commonality in this regard.
In most countries, these "Hazard" or "Use" Classes describe the exposure conditions to which wood products can be subject to in service. Normally there are 5 or 6 risk classes, in some cases and countnes or regioinis, there are subclasses, and each one considers the specific service exposure, biologic hazard and typical uses of wood. Hazard classes are a good help for specifiers and consumers to choose the right treated wood as they are always included in the Treated Wood Standards, specifying the approved wood preservatives and the respective retention per each hazard class. Some countries use labels in each piece of wood that specify hazard class and the preservative, which is a good guide for consumers. This aspect of wood-based products protection is described on the Global Use Classes for Wood-based Products webpage.