As the forest industry moves toward the use of younger trees and production of an increasing number of composite products improving durability has gained importance. Coatings are one of the most widely used methods for improving wood durability because they improve resistance to water penetration, and subsequent shrinking and swelling, which improves performance. From a wood panel manufacturing perspective, the hot-press may offer an opportunity to use in-situ wood chemistry reactions to chemically modify just the wood surface, decreasing the level of hydroxyl species in the weak boundary layer, improving moisture resistance, and reducing the need to apply a coating. This research focused on establishing whether or not wood surface chemistry and performance could be effected by hot press platen metallurgy under hot pressing conditions and if so, to determine if these effects were due to thermo-mechanical or chemical changes. The significance of chemical changes and their characterization was investigated. In addition, this research also sought to contribute to fundamental knowledge in the area of metal mechanochemical modifications of wood and other renewable materials under normal wood composite processing conditions. Results confirmed at a high level that different press surfaces do indeed support statistically significant differences in wood surface chemistry. FTIR -ATR analysis showed consistent differences in the surface chemistry between different platen metal types at changing process conditions. DART-TOF-MS analysis showed that statistically significant concentrations of platen specific wood surface ion species could be identified. FTIR microscopy diffuse reflection analysis supported that organic residues present on a platen surface after pressing are at least somewhat specific to the platen metallurgy. Some statistically significant relationships between water permeance and diffusion performance and hot press platen metallurgy were also established. RSM models in combination with ANOVA, Tukey, and Correlation analysis suggest that thermal and mechanical effects are likely more important than chemical catalytic effects in terms of moisture resistance, but that chemical effects do play a role. Improvements in water resistance imparted by different pressing surfaces were notable, but not as significant as conventional paint coatings. A platen-wood surface relationship appears to exist and if platen metal selection can be used to slow or advance reactions that lead to more rapid or higher production of desired chemical traits, this area of study may possibly have important implications for a variety of wood product applications.