Housing Construction Expected to be Strong This Year

According to a 2016 housing forecast at realtor.com, home sales this year are likely to reach the highest levels in a decade. Rises in new-home construction and existing home sales are both expected to push total home sales to the highest levels since 2006.

Building materials should be in high demand, so the industries that produce them— forestry, milling, roofing, wiring and plumbing goods, among others—should thrive as well.

But lumber isn’t just milled timber anymore. Engineered woods, made partly from natural cellulosic materials and byproducts, combined with manufactured components such as resins and adhesives, are increasingly important, with ever improving features, benefits, and performance characteristics.

Engineered wood has become popular for a multitude of reasons. Oriented strand board(OSB), medium density fiber(MDF), paneling, plywood and other types of wood-based building products increasingly help contribute to modern construction projects. Engineered wood products are often times compared to steel because of their surface quality and are even specified for jobs over traditional lumber due to enhanced strength and durability.

OSB (Oriented Strand Board)

OSB (Oriented Strand Board)

So, we’re all clear that manufactured building materials are key players when contributing to sound construction, but how do heat transfer fluids apply?

Engineered wood is simply that: engineered, or man-made. It isn’t wood that comes from chopping down a tree in your backyard. This type of pre-planned wood is designed with specifications in mind to meet the standards—stability, durability, compressibility, etc—of the specified material.

This kind of specialty wood is made by the binding of materials. Continuous or batched mats of compacted wood, strips, particles or veneers are fused together with an adhesive utilizing a thermal-oil-heated press, at a temperature of around 425ºF.

“It’s a demanding process,” says Jim Oetinger, Paratherm’s director of technology. “The hot oil can maintain those temperatures without the extreme pressures you would need with steam so virtually every engineered-wood plant is using thermal oil these days. “

“However the oil can start to degrade and cause sludge buildups in the platens” Says Oetinger. “The problem is that the operators don’t realize that this is happening until the cold spots start to affect product quality. Eventually the platens have be cleaned which requires a complete system shutdown.”

To avoid that downtime, Paratherm’s maintenance programs, using hot-oil lab analysis, comparative fluid baselines, historical data, and plant operator interviews, keep the cold spots from developing, and the process and equipment within specs. At the very least, downtime can be scheduled during regular, expected shutdowns.

Paratherm HE is a durable natural hydrocarbon-based heat transfer fluid used in applications such as the creation of the engineered wood discussed above. Because safety, upkeep, and operation are crucial components of large applications, technical support for heat thermal fluids and accompanying equipment are necessary for general plant management and maintenance.

At the beginning of April we were given the opportunity to exhibit our capabilities at the 4th Wood Bioenergy Conference and Expo, followed by the 5th Panel & Engineered Lumber International Conference and Expo (PELICE). Read more about the event here. In past years, both symposiums have attracted 300+ industry professionals to share in on industry knowledge and presentations, with 75 equipment and technology exhibitors to speak to the various kind of specialty wood and their composite breakdowns.

With this year’s Expos under our belts we are looking forward to jumping into field projects for the industry and upcoming construction season. In need of high-quality heat thermal fluids for the making of your engineered wood? Contact the professionals at Paratherm today. Staff members are on standby ready to answer any questions or help you complete any processes you may have.