An Overview of the Treated Lumber Quality Mark

Matthew Voitier, Curole, Jay P., Mccown, Charles R., Ring, Dennis R.  |  3/28/2008 9:07:49 PM

Figure 1. Sample Treated Lumber Quality Mark

Figure 2. Actual Treated Lumber Quality Mark

A very effective way to protect wooden structures from attack by insects and decay fungi is to use treated wood for building projects. To ensure that you are using the lumber that best suits your building needs, it is important to understand the information provided by the grade stamp or treated-lumber quality mark. Wood that has been treated for use in an above-ground application, for instance, will not contain as much preservative as wood that has been treated for use in contact with the ground, or may use a different preservative altogether.

The quality mark (often found on a plastic tag stapled to the end of a piece of treated lumber) provides all of the information necessary for the consumer to choose the proper material for the job.

Figure 1 shows the information provided by a treated-lumber quality mark. While not all of the information on the tag is important to the average consumer, such as which particular preservative chemical is used or which AWPA standard was followed, some is. Probably the most important bit of information is the exposure conditions section. According to this example, this lumber may be used where it is constantly touching the ground, such as in a deck or fence.

Figure 2 shows an actual tag taken from borate-treated lumber. As with figure 1, the tag tells the consumer when the lumber was treated, which preservative is used, which agency provides accreditation, which AWPA standards were met, and most importantly that this lumber may be used in areas with Formosan subterranean termites, but only where it is above ground and protected from contact with water.

If, for instance, you were to build a deck with lumber described by figure 2, it may be attacked by termites or decay fungi in the future. When choosing lumber for a building project, it is extremely important to inspect the stamp or tag to be sure that you are using a product that will suit the job.

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