Improvement of dimensional stability and durability is wished for the use of wood as a building material. For the last decade, retification® has been industrially developed. It consists in a stabilization and preservation of wood by heat treatment. The aim of this study is to find simple and fast methods to characterize heat treated beech. Non destructive testing is expected to be relevant to evaluate the level of treatment and the properties for the use of heat treated wood. Six treatments were carried out in a pilot reactor. The parameters of the retification® stage (temperature and time) were studied. For each treatment, the non destructive tests (free oscillations in the fundamental mode, colour and dry weight loss)were performed, and the properties for use (mechanical resistance and volumetric shrinkage) measured. Lightness and dry weight loss seem to be suitable properties to characterize beech retification® when the time parameter is fixed. However, they are not suitable for other wood species, and for retification stages with a variable duration. Moreover, the correlation with the properties for use were plotted, but presented too large dispersion to be relevant. After correction of moisture content, the longitudinal Young's modulus of the material is slightly increased by each of the six treatments, but do not present any variation with changing parameters values. On the contrary, the mechanical resistance decreased with increasing temperature and time. Thus the dynamic Young's modulus is not reliable to evaluate the treatment and to predict the loss of mechanical resistance. The logarithmic decrement was not increased by any of the treatments, which is in opposition with the hypothesis that retification® generates cracks and microcracks in the material. Effects of long time at low temperature have been investigated. From these experiments, properties of treated wood may be improved significantly by choosing appropriate values of the parameters.
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