GRIFFIN, GA – On May 16, 2016, Sunbelt Forest Products released a public statement regarding pressure treated wood products. In our opinion, their release contained information that is incorrect, misleading, and incomplete. Below is our response to the statements in their release.
- Sunbelt Release: “The American Wood Protection Association (AWPA) has reaffirmed Ecolife and Copper Azole Type C (CAC) as effective treatment for use . . . .”
Response: The new AWPA Standard provides guidance on when it is appropriate to use ground contact treated wood versus above ground contact treated wood. The new Standard does not deal with or even mention any specific wood preservative systems. The AWPA does have a formal reaffirmation procedure for reviewing standardized wood preservatives. However, the Ecolife (EL2) and CA-C wood preservative systems were not reaffirmed at the recent May 2016 AWPA Annual Meeting.
- Sunbelt Release: “The recent modifications to the AWPA Standards for treated wood components considered difficult to replace had caused some confusion in the industry . . . .”
Response: We believe the new AWPA Standard change is not confusing or hard to apply. The new AWPA Standard states that wood used above ground but would be difficult to maintain, repair or replace, and is critical to the performance and safety of the entire system/construction shall be treated to UC4A (Ground Contact General Use).
- Sunbelt Release: “Certain producers and suppliers are forcing their retail and contractor customers to switch to all ground contact wood . . . .”
Response: We are not aware of any wood treaters or other suppliers who have “forced” (or even tried to force) home centers and lumberyards to do anything about the new AWPA Standards. However, we are aware that many home centers and lumberyards throughout the U.S. are converting specific dimension lumber sizes commonly used for deck and dock joists and beams to ground contact preservative retention levels in light of the new application Standard.
- Sunbelt Release: The Sunbelt release states that “robust fasteners” are required for ground contact wood.
Response: There are no new requirements for fasteners. Fasteners produced for ground contact treated wood have been used in the U.S. now for over 10 years. Standard hot-dipped galvanized (G185) fasteners are designed to be used with both Above Ground (UC3B) and Ground Contact (UC4A) treated wood products.
- Sunbelt Release: “There are also potential environmental concerns since ground contact lumber contains more copper sulfate.”
Response: First, we are not aware of any current copper-based wood preservatives using copper sulfate. Second, wood preservative products that are registered for Ground Contact use with the EPA are suitable for use in residential, agricultural and commercial applications.
- Sunbelt Statement: “But the AWPA’s Technical Standards Committee has made it very clear that the treatments currently used for above ground standard deck joists and support beams, decking, railing, fence pickets, and similar outdoor projects are still acceptable and effective in most uses.”
Response: The new Standard states that if a deck joist and/or a support beam are critical to the performance and safety of the system and would be difficult to maintain, repair or replace, then wood treated to the Ground Contact Standard shall be used. This Standard is not confusing or difficult to apply. In addition, the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) states on their website that, “Ground Contact treated wood must be used for deck and dock joists, beams, ledger boards, step stringers and posts.”
- Sunbelt Statement: “We are proud to continue offering the best available product warranty . . . .”
Response: Koppers Performance Chemicals offers a Residential and Agricultural Limited Warranty for treated wood used in Above Ground and Ground Contact applications. (Visit www.kopperspc.com for warranty details.)
What the Sunbelt release did not say regarding the new AWPA Standard change:
The AWPA Standard change establishes new guidelines for when wood should be treated to the UC4A Ground Contact General Use category. First, the new Standard directs that Ground Contact treated wood should be used in situations that simulate ground contact, such as:
- when there is a reasonable expectation that soil, vegetation, leaf litter or other debris may build up and remain in contact with the component
- when the construction itself, other structures or anticipated vegetation growth will not allow air flow to circulate underneath the construction and between decking boards
- when components are installed less than six inches above ground (final grade after landscaping) and supported on permeable building materials (e.g. treated wood or concrete)
- when components are in direct contact with non-durable untreated wood, or any older construction with any evidence of decay
- when components are wetted on a frequent or reoccurring basis (e.g. on a freshwater floating dock or by a watering system)
- when components are used in tropical climates
In addition, the new AWPA Standard directs that above ground wood components, including joists and beams for decks and fresh water docks, shall be treated to Ground Contact UC4A when they would be:
- difficult to maintain, repair, or replace; and
- critical to the performance and safety of the entire system
For more information on the Standard change, visit www.kopperspc.com.
Source: Koppers Performance Chemicals