Herje Boström, Founder of Sioo Wood Protection AB, outlines his Nature-inspired wood protection technology and some of its varied applications, from decks and docks to artwork and furniture.
Founded in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1998 by Herje Boström, Sioo Wood Protection is the creator of the ground-breaking patented Sioo:x Impregnation system, using silicate technology. Sioo Wood Protection AB was established in 2008 to deliver marketing and support across Scandinavia and internationally. Today, the Sioo:x products are in widespread use by consumers and professionals and applications have been in the field for over 10 years. Sioo:x was introduced to the UK in 2012 where it is marketed, supported, and distributed.
Sioo:x products are utilised by world-leading architects, professionals, and clients seeking natural and sustainable wood protection technology solutions which give long life and a beautiful, weathered and aged appearance that allows the timber to blend into its environment.
Sioo:x maintains an ongoing R&D programme with Chalmers Technical University and the world leading SP Technical Institute.
Designed by Nature
Nature inspires us in everything we do and has made us who we are. With the help of nature and innovative technology, we have created a unique, environmentally friendly wood protection that gives decks, building siding, docks, and boat decks an attractive silver-grey patina – just like beautifully aged wood. Plus, you get unrivalled durable protection for a long time, without having to repeat the job year after year. Instead, you can spend your time with your family and friends – all thanks to wood products made from and in harmony with Nature. We call this ‘Designed by Nature’.
Herje Boström, founder
“Wood is a fantastic material. It’s Nature’s own material that can be shaped however you like, and, if you use wood the right way, it will last indefinitely.” Sioo:x innovator and founder Herje Boström is a Nature lover who enjoys hiking in the woods and fields around his 18th Century house in Småland. He never stops being fascinated by the houses that are still standing after centuries without being affected by mildew.
“These houses have stood the test of time largely because they were built smarter in the past and were made from natural building materials,” says Boström. The foundation for his interest in architecture and building was laid while he was studying in Munich, Germany, in the 1980s, where he earned a degree in business administration and went on to become a teacher at Nösnäs Upper Secondary School in Stenungsund.
After a few years, Boström and a friend launched a business based on researching old techniques in order to discover forgotten treasures of knowledge that could be developed into modern products, and settled on a successful technique that conservators have been using for centuries to preserve wood. It involves a simple mixture of silicon and potassium that penetrates and unites with the wood, while strengthening it with a crystalline layer. This technique has protected valuable objects and wooden details in buildings against mildew, rotting, and insects for centuries. Some say that Stradivarius even treated his violins with potassium silicate to get the best protection and sound. Sodium silicate, which was used during World War II for fire protection, was also tested. However, this technique was rejected since it was discovered that it does not penetrate and protect as effectively, but rather over-strengthens the surface layer which then becomes subject to cracking.
This signalled the start for Sioo:x, Boström and his team developed a product suitable for protecting wood against the taxing Nordic environment. Contacts were established with paint giant Akzo Nobel and Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, where the basic technology was tested for several years. The Sioo:x team simultaneously carried out in-house development projects, and a unique silicon formula was developed with the results confirmed by testing the product under both laboratory conditions and on wood exposed to real-world elements. “It was a real thrill,” Boström said. “A whole new world opened up. I was studying, teaching, and completely captivated.”
Boström applied for a patent, which was approved a few years later. This serves as the foundation for a broad and stable patent-protected technology base on which to develop the business for many years to come. To achieve production on a somewhat larger scale, Boström and company initiated a collaboration with painting legend Rolf Hansen and his company, Wibo Färg, located on Hisingen in Gothenburg. Sioo:x leased space and gradually grew in the premises at Wibo Färg.
The future of innovation
Boström had begun by applying the wood protection product to decks belonging to friends and neighbours. He quickly received confirmation that the product really worked, and people began to contact him spontaneously. They were especially fascinated by the beautiful, light, and smooth surface. The product unites incredibly well with wood and therefore has superior durability, while being completely eco-friendly. “The results were so good that they attracted interest from people like a magnet,” Boström said.
In the following years, Boström travelled around Sweden with a fully loaded car and demonstrated Sioo:x wood protection technology at trade fairs. Sales took off, paint store chains showed interest, and the products appeared on TV programmes such as Äntligen Hemma and Bygglov. Architects and construction companies started to use the eco-friendly technology. In 2011, Boström resigned his teaching position to fully devote himself to Sioo:x and moved production into its own premises. The rest, as they say, is history.
Today, around 20 people work in Sioo:x’s bright, new and spacious facility in the Gamlestan neighbourhood on the outskirts of Gothenburg. Annual production of wood protection is about 80,000 gallons (~364,000 litres). Some of Europe’s leading researchers are developing the technology for our R&D operation. We are upgrading our marketing initiatives in co-operation with leading advertising agency Stendahls to develop a built platform for future expansion.
Our mission is to continue to break barriers and provide our customers with a positive experience from our world-class products. We are doing today what customers could only dream of doing yesterday. We are solving persistent old problems in the wood industry and contributing eco-friendly products to society. Our concepts have no boundaries and are being realised through international co-operation.
Silicon technology has proven to be the future of innovation in many fields; internationalisation was initiated four years ago and is developing rapidly, and the business is growing at a record pace. We are evolving to continue to provide lasting benefit to our customers, the industry and society through eco-friendly technology.
Nature’s smart wood protection technology: not just a pretty surface
Our wood protection is inspired by how Nature protects itself using silicon: in other words, Nature’s own smart protection technology. The process involves absorption by trees and plants of silica from the soil, which dissolves in water and is then transported in trunks and stalks, where it precipitates and helps strengthen the organism. This same process provides vitality to both the aspen trees in our Nordic woods and teak trees in the rainforests. Similarly, silicon makes straw and reeds strong and rigid. In addition, silicon is endowed with wood-preserving properties. One example is petrified wood, which can be found in many places around the world. The wood in these trees has essentially been replaced by silicon compounds, which has allowed them to withstand wind and weather for millions of years – an extreme test of durability.
Sioo:x treated cedar cladding in the Lake District
Timber cladding is being used increasingly as a priority choice amongst architects and designers for use as a protective skin for buildings. This reflects the natural and unique quality that wood provides. Whether the project is a large-scale development or a small private dwelling, timber cladding gives greater flexibility in design, is versatile, attractive, and environmentally friendly. Having made an (often significant) investment in timber cladding, the question of how it is best protected arises.
This natural look is increasingly sought after, but the challenge is how to achieve it without taking the risk of uneven weathering on different aspects of the building, or in protected areas such as overhanging eaves. Another issue can be the unsightly tide marks caused by extractive wash out, a particular problem with western red cedar.
Discoloured untreated larch facade
Sioo:x provides a solution by mirroring the natural ageing process and accelerating the creation of the silver-grey appearance and giving long-life protection in a completely environmentally friendly way.
Sioo:x natural protection technology penetrates the wood and gives a light surface that is pleasant to touch. Apart from the surface being beautiful, it also is a barrier to algae, mould, and rot from gaining a hold in the wood. The surface is also very easy to wipe down, making maintenance simpler. The Sioo:x treatment reinforces and strengthens the wood surface and is very easy to apply. It is only applied once, in contrast to the necessity of annual treatments with oils.
To achieve the best penetration and optimum results use sawn timber or prepare the timber surface by sanding with no finer a paper than 80 grit. Avoid applying to dressed surfaces as any mill glaze resists penetration and can result in less than optimum performance. Because of better quality control, factory treatment by an approved applicator is strongly recommended with treatment to all sides of the cladding boards to achieve full envelope protection.
Decking and jetties
Sioo:x has extensive experience in protecting timber decking structures, on extended living and outdoor leisure spaces, on jetties and marine structures, and on boat decks. The treatment has been proven in the most demanding environments and applications have been in the field for a long time.
The Sioo:x attributes of being totally environmentally friendly, using only naturally occurring elements, complements the renewable and biodegradable benefits of using timber. Sioo:x is entirely free of harmful biocides and can be used with complete confidence to treat wooden surfaces which come into contact with people, pets, and wildlife. Sioo:x is used to protect wooden structures in conservation areas.
Sioo:x penetrates the wood and develops a light, satin-like, lustrous surface that is pleasant to walk barefoot upon. On decking surfaces that receive heavy wear, the Sioo:x treatment gives particular benefits in reinforcing and strengthening the wood surface, preventing cracking and splinting. The durability of some of the softer timbers is enhanced, making them candidates for use as decking material.
Teak boat decks
Sioo:x’s marine products leave a durable and beautiful finish on timber decks and wooden details aboard ships, yachts, and boats. They reinforce the sensitive, valuable teak and make it resistant to wear. The wood is conserved for a long time and resists the growth of algae.
Beams and bridges
Beams and bridges are areas that are greatly exposed to weather and wind, making maintenance challenging. Here, Sioo:x Impregnation technology has great advantages, with results showing up to 15 years of protection for wood from the elements. With its eco-friendly composition, it is particularly appropriate for use in sensitive environments such as marine locations, near water courses, in wildlife reserves and preservation areas.
Artwork and furniture
The selection of appropriate treatment to protect artwork and furniture from the elements is an important decision. Much loved and important artefacts, particularly timber artwork, need to be preserved in the settings they were designed and chosen for. These items are touched by people, so the treatment should be one that is entirely safe and results in an appearance which respects and sustains the object in the landscape setting. Sioo:x has the attributes to achieve this, as well as a proven track record of protecting new timber items and regenerating old and neglected pieces.