AWPA Reaffirms Efficacy of Above Ground Treatment Standards For Outdoor Uses

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Sunbelt Forest Products brings clarification of standards to light

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Sunbelt Forest Products is pleased to announce that the American Wood Protection Association (AWPA) has reaffirmed Ecolife and Copper Azole Type C (CAC) as effective treatments for use with above ground outdoor wood applications including joists and beams.

"The recent modifications to the AWPA standards for treated wood components considered ‘difficult to replace’ had caused some confusion in the industry,” said Ken DelleDonne, president of Sunbelt Forest Products. “Some retailers and wood treatment producers appear to be under the mistaken impression that all treated wood used in outdoor applications must meet ground contact standards. This could unnecessarily drive up costs of outdoor building projects. During the AWPA Annual Meeting held in early May, the technical committee clarified its treatment guidelines by component part. The committee identified above ground (UC3B) treated wood standards for deck joists, support beams, decking, railings, fence pickets and similar outdoor projects, reaffirming UC3B as an acceptable and effective treatment in most outdoor uses.

Certain producers and suppliers are forcing their retail and contractor customers to switch to all ground contact wood because they say it is required by the AWPA revision. When only ground contact wood is available, retailers and contractors are forced to pay higher costs not only for the more heavily treated lumber but also for the more robust fasteners required with such wood. There are also potential environmental concerns, since ground contact lumber contains more copper sulfate.

“We’re seeing treaters forcing their customers to all ground contact products, which are also being accompanied by a 15% or greater increase in retail price. Also, since most ground contact preservatives are copper-based, forcing consumers to all-ground contact is exposing the environment to higher levels of copper sulfate than is necessary to achieve product performance levels,” DelleDonne added.

“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, railings, fence pickets and similar outdoor projects are still acceptable and effective in most uses,” he said.

“We want to be sure that our customers—building supply stores, contractors and specifiers—as well as building code officials know that Sunbelt Forest Products’ current treatments remain IRC and IBC compliant for all above ground uses,” DelleDonne added. "We are proud to continue offering the best available product warranty in the industry on all of our products, including Ecolife and CAC.

Sunbelt Forest Products of Bartow, Florida, a wholly owned subsidiary of PalletOne, Inc., is one of the largest pressure treaters in the Southeast. Operating three locations in Alabama and Florida, Sunbelt’s manufacturing capabilities exceed 300 million board feet of pressure treated wood per year.

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Stokes Wallace
Sunbelt Forest Products
+1 863-534-1702
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