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Billy Joel, Queen, David Bowie or UC4A? When the term Pressure Treated Lumber comes to mind I think of the chemical iterations this product has endured over the years. Remember the CCA Formula that contained Arsenic? The very mention of the word “Arsenic” sent Soccer Moms everywhere running to swoop children off of America’s playgrounds under the fear little Johnny might ingest some of the wood and force the use of that old Poison Control speed dial button on the telephone. After the dust settled experts determined a child would have to consume the equivalent of 14 picnic benches (approximately) worth of this material before any effects took hold. However the die was cast and CCA Pressure Treated Lumber was relegated to the satirical fodder of The Simpsons pitchman Troy McClure (“Hey kids…you may remember me from such films as “Lead Paint: Delicious but Deadly”).

Now-a-days Pressure-Treated Lumber has left the wild past of its youth behind and has matured with more responsible changes. Unfortunately, many users of treated wood don’t know there are different use categories and increased levels of chemical retention required for more direct contact with the ground or water. Currently, most builders and remodelers are only using Ground Contact treated lumber for 4×4 buried posts or similar applications. This is all changing.

As of January 2016 The American Wood Protection Association (AWPA) significantly changed its standard for Ground Contact, General Use (Use Category “UC4A” See also Treated wood is all the same, right?). This latest standard will require Ground Contact (UC4A) treated wood to be used in the following end-use applications: When components are difficult to maintain, repair or replace This includes ledger boards & joists * Components critical to the performance and safety of the entire system/construction * Less than six (6”) inches from the ground (final grade after landscaping) * When components are at risk for poor air circulation or water drainage * Likely to have prolonged contact with soil build up, vegetation of leaf litter * Used in tropical climates * Joists and beams for decks and freshwater docks

These changes are effective on the publication of AWPA’s 2016 Book of Standards. Like me you are probably waiting with much anticipation for this publication release. Relax, it is not expected to hit bookshelves until May 2016. With these revisions you can expect your local building code to adjust to the AWPA Standard. Quality lumberyards (like Davis-Hawn) will begin changing out their inventories of Pressure-Treated Lumber to predominantly include Ground Contact (UC4A) material. We are expecting to see some price increases related to this change.

While we have all been busy with our work-a-day lives Pressure-Treated Lumber has indeed grown up and changed its lyrics. Although it no longer has “Heli-Moms” sounding alarms, if you are not careful it could have you reaching for your pocketbook in the form of “Red Tags”, change orders and costly re-dos. Let us help by contacting your friendly Davis-Hawn salesman with questions so you can build to last.

“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” -John Wooden UCLA Basketball Coach

Build to Last,

Frank Wood