Polyurethane (PU)–solid wood composites with good mechanical properties and dimensional stability have been prepared in the presence of four amine catalysts. Cone calorimetry and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) have been employed to characterize and evaluate the effects of the catalyst species on the flammability of the PU–wood composites. The results indicated that the PU–wood composites prepared in the presence of various catalysts had somewhat better flame resistance than the untreated wood control, as manifested in various flammability parameters (longer time to sustained ignition and time to peak heart rate release, larger mass and fire performance index (FPI), and lower mean HRR, mass loss rate, and peak HRR). The variations in the flame resistances of the PU–wood composites can be attributed to the various morphologies of the PU resin and the wood that resulted from the use of the various catalysts, as indicated by SEM micrographs. The PU–wood composite prepared in the presence of N-methylmorpholine (NMM) as catalyst showed the best flame resistance, since the PU resin formed abundant PU foam that extended throughout the wood. This foam was effective in retarding the transfers of heat and combustible substances as well as the pyrogenation. In terms of FPI values, the flame resistances of these PU–wood composites decreased according to the catalyst used in the order NMM, triethanolamine, diethylenetriamine, and triethylenediamine. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci, 2009
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