Choosing the correct wood for your outdoor project

Choosing the correct wood for your outdoor project, by: Lonza Wood Protection

This past year the wood preserving industry took a bold stance on quality when the American Wood Protection Association (AWPA) voted to require higher amounts of preservative for wood used in many applications. The AWPA, an organization comprised of individuals from all facets of the wood protection industry that sets standards for wood preservation and treated wood, updated its standards to require wood treated to Ground Contact retentions be used in many physically above-ground applications, including when:

  • soil or other debris may build up and stay in contact with the wood
  • insufficient ventilation does not allow air circulation around wood
  • material is installed <6 inches above the ground on permeable building materials
  • material is installed in contact with non-durable untreated or older construction with evidence of decay
  • wood is subject to frequent or recurring wetting
  • located in tropical climates
  • the wood is both:

— difficult to maintain, repair or replace and

— critical to the performance and safety of the entire system

Building codes require that preserved wood comply with these standards and the installer must decide if these conditions are present, select, and install the correct material for the project.  The wood preserving industry and many retailers have helped implement these standards by switching inventories of lumber in sizes commonly used for structural parts of decks to Ground Contact retentions. Some retailers have switched all lumber, including decking and railing, to Ground Contact retentions. These changes benefit builders and consumers by removing the guesswork from the decision process. Buyers can focus on their project rather than deciding if they need to purchase Ground Contact wood.

“It is important,” says, Jay Hilsenbeck, chemist and residential product specialist from Lonza Wood Protection, “to educate builders, contractors, and DIYers so they know what wood to choose for their project. During Deck Safety Month® we focus on deck inspections, but we should also focus on quality and proper construction practices before construction begins. The builder should consider the deck surroundings. For a deck built close to the ground, for example, Ground Contact retentions would be required under the new AWPA guidelines.”

The contractor should also consider what parts of the deck (joists, beams, ledger boards, posts) are important to sustain the structure and are more expensive or time-consuming to repair after the project is complete. The contractor and homeowner should work together to discuss the environmental conditions such as if the deck will be subject to constant wetting from a pool or sprinklers or if there will be debris build-up.

With that knowledge, contractors and homeowners can have peace-of-mind that they have chosen the appropriate preserved wood for the project. Contractors can offer their clients the confidence that they are providing a durable outdoor living space for their homeowner clients to enjoy for many years.

Each May, during Deck Safety Month®, homeowners can focus on evaluating the items in the deck safety checklist, knowing their deck was built using the right preserved wood.

Learn more

 

Viance’s, Chris Kollwitz talks about AWPA Modifications

We wanted to thank the entire NADRA organization for the opportunity to meet with some of the leading deck builders in the industry, at NADRA’s regional meeting in Atlanta.

As beautiful custom wood framed decks and outdoor projects are constructed by NADRA members, they should be guided by the latest, most accurate information available.

Recent updates to the 2016 American Wood Protection Association (AWPA) Use Category System for treated wood, which include modifications to the section that outlines proper applications of Above Ground (UC3B) and Ground Contact (UC4A) treated wood, are causing some confusion in the industry.

Unfortunately, some retailers and wood treatment companies have misinterpreted the language to mean that only ground contact lumber meets the updated AWPA Use Category System standard for deck framing applications. That is not the case.

When it comes to residential decks projects, here’s what you need to know.

  • Despite what some in the industry are communicating, the AWPA U1 Use Category System (UCS), and the IRC® and IBC® building codes continue to allow Above Ground (UC3B) treated wood for common deck applications.
  • There is NO requirement to use Ground Contact materials for ALL Above Ground decks.
  • Above Ground (UC3B) wood treated under the AWPA U1 standards remains Code Compliant for deck framing, joists, beams, decking surfaces and railing systems, while using the appropriate amount of preservatives required to protect the wood from decay and termite attack.
  • Look for the CheckMark® on treated wood end tags. Only wood treated to the AWPA standards is third-party inspected and bears the CheckMark® of quality on end tags. Be sure to use products endorsed with the CheckMark logo.
  • Viance has reaffirmed its warranty coverage on treated wood products, and will continue to extend the terms of its Lifetime Limited Warranty for Above Ground (UC3B) treated wood products when used properly.
  • The preservative levels required to meet the AWPA UC4A ground contact standard not only increases the likelihood of higher project expense through more expensive wood, it also increases the chemical needed to complete projects. Above ground treated wood remains code compliant for most common decking applications while using the appropriate amount of preservative to ensure performance. Why use more chemicals than necessary?

To learn more about the revisions to the AWPA-UCS standard and why Above Ground treatments are still the best choice in treated wood, visit www.treatedwood.com/options. Viance is an ICC Preferred Education Provider and offers an accredited Continuing Education Course (CEU) course: Code Compliant Treated Wood for Residential Deck Construction

We are happy to review any questions you may have, email them to codequestions@viance.net.

Thank you

Chris Kollwitz

Christopher Kollwitz

Viance – Treated Wood Solutions

Director of Marketing

NADRA member since 2009

Contact Info:

Email: ckollwitz@viance.net

Office: 800-421-8661

 Over 30 Years Building Products Sales and Marketing with a focus on process improvement, product training, merchandising, events and business development programs.

  • 8 Years with Hechinger Co. in Washington DC
  • 14 years with Georgia-Pacific Building Products
  • 8 years with Viance – Treated Wood Solutions.
  • Currently responsible for the development and management of Viance marketing initiatives and execution.

Send Us Your Local Codes

July 10, 2012 | Quality products take time and effort to produce.  They take research, preparations and planning.  One such quality product on the horizon for NADRA is a “NADRA Deck Construction Standard”, or some sort of similar title.  With so much information available online for deck construction, it’s hard to know what sources are legitimate and reputable.  There’s quite a mix of opinions online and in practice.  As the nation’s only association for professionals in the deck and railing industry, maybe we should work to produce a new standard…a NADRA standard.  Together, our membership spans the entire industry and can provide the best foundation for our country to build the next generation of decks on.  It’s going to take knowledge from all parts of the industry to truly represent the industry.  We have that knowledge.

To develop a NADRA standard we need to compare our practices to the various local deck construction requirements across our nation and be sure we’re ahead.  The International Residential Code is often amended locally before adoption.  Double this with the difficulty of relating many IRC provisions to deck construction, and you’ve got little “standard” to work from.  To soften this issue, many local building departments have developed their own guides for deck construction.  We need to review them.  Being in the “research” stage of this lofty goal, your association needs your help.  Send us a link or pdf to any and all local deck construction guides you can find.  We need to have the opportunity to see what other ideas there are in our nation about deck construction minimum standards long before we create our own.

We need to do our homework.

Members…send us your local standards and guides so we can start to prepare. Email Info@NADRA.org

Glenn Mathewson

Technical Advisor

Contracts and Building Permits

 by: John Paulin of Tailor Decks, Inc.

June 18, 2012 | I have been building decks in Atlanta for more than 20 years and have seen so many changes over the years.  I can’t imagine starting my business today in this industry with all the changes and demands.  It use to be so simple.  No one was getting building permits, or even thought about it. Heck, I even remember selling projects and never having contracts. Could you imagine doing that today?!

Building permits and contracts are the most important part to any successful businesses nowadays. Pulling building permits and working with inspectors can be a pain at first, but once you push through it, it becomes habit and not so bad.  I use to think contracts were insulting, and that two people should be able to work together with a hand shake.  Well, that part may be true, but that is not what a contract is about.

A contract outlines the scope of work to be performed by the contractor and what the contractor expects from the purchaser.  When I meet with the purchaser, there are so many different items discussed and so many different options, who could ever keep up with all of them?  The more descriptive the contract is, the smoother the project runs.  When a disagreement arises between the contractor and purchaser, the contract is there to fall back on.

My contract today is 8 pages long and is very descriptive. It outlines the scope of work, the payment schedule, the warranty, and discusses all unexpected items that may come up and cost involved. I have been working on my companies contract for over two years now and still adding an item here and there when something new comes up.  I don’t know if it will ever be finished.  For the first 17 years of Tailor Decks, my contract was only 1 page with an attachment which briefly described the work to be performed.

I was recently talking with some contractors that have been in the construction industry longer than I have, and they all felt the longer the contract is, the purchaser perceives the builder to be more professional.  I think this has a lot of truth to it and I may be on the right path.

What do you think? Feel free to send comments or start discussions. I would love to hear from some fellow NADRA members.

ICC’s Backyard Safety

May 15, 2012 | There’s a lot of information out there on the web about backyard safety, from those aimed at providing “parenting advice” to medical websites aimed at keeping bandages on the shelf.  Another such source is the International Code Council (ICC), the publisher of our nations leading model construction codes. In the big scheme of things, decks are a small part of our built environment.  With ICC providing codes and standards for large commercial complexes, like hotels and retail centers, it’s nice when our industry of backyard decks gets some attention…and not just in new code provisions.  For Building Safety Month, May of every year, ICC is focusing attention on decks and outdoor living…a good sign that our industry is vibrant, growing and important to our culture.

The article behind this link provides a nice call to owners and property managers that decks don’t last forever, or may have been built substandard to begin with.  Too many of our fellow Americans don’t realize the need to regularly maintain and inspect their decks…and that means more than a swipe of a staining rag.  They often dismiss the very real hazards that backyard decks, grills and pools inadvertently create for us.  Public services messages like this, from non-profit organizations, are there for our benefit and our neighbor’s benefit.  Take a read, get ideas, get inspired and share this message.  Just forward the link.

http://www.iccsafe.org/safety/Pages/Backyard.aspx

 

What’s Your Story?

April 24, 2012 | No happy thoughts for me this week about harmony in the codes for all.  I want the worst of it, your worst story about codes, inspectors, permits and the like.  Come on, take me down; knock me out.  You know I used to be an inspector…now I just review your plans and decide how long it takes you to get a permit, he, he, he.*  Give me your rant!

*[Cynical, diabolical laugh]

All kidding aside, I want to hear about how things are going for you with codes and their enforcement in your area, and not just the bad stuff.  I’d like to hear your good experiences too and if you’re working well with your building department.  Give me your pulse of how the building code industry is affecting your business.  Help me understand where it is I can help NADRA…and help you.

“I had an inspector require me to pull a nail out of a hanger to verify if it was the correct nail.  Nope…it was a short hanger nail used in a double joist hanger.  The manufacturer called for 3-inch nails.  The inspector was correct, but in the big scheme of things, the load limits for the hanger’s correct installation was ten fold what I used it for.  It was a double joist used as a nailer for a change in decking direction.  It wasn’t going anywhere as it stood, but alas, it had the wrong nails, and it cost me the inspection that day.  Always kept the hardware catalog and instructions with me after that.”

-Glenn

What does it mean to me to be an advisor to NADRA?

April 23, 2012 | It means I am here to help.  I am here to share insight into a different industry, the building code industry.  The code industry is going through some growing pains.  The electric code, energy and green codes, and fire sprinkler mandate, for example, have created some worry amongst professionals.  The IRC for residential keeps growing larger, while the IBC for commercial is referring more to other costly standards…

But I’m already boring you…  Decks are your business, not codes.

I would agree it’s not your worry, if we were back in 2006, or if you’re working under the 06 IRC.  That was before decks and codes really collided.  The code industry is way ahead of you though and decks are plenty included.  In nine month…NINE MONTHS…the deadlines for the 2015 IRC are due…alas…here I go again on a code rant…

It means I am here to stay ahead of the codes for you, or at least in front.  It means I can be your representative in the code industry.  I can listen to your current experiences and concerns about the industry.  It also means I can help connect the membership in an informed and sensible compromise of ideals such that the industry can flourish together…ahhh…

To do this we need to connect.  Find me on LinkedIn or Twitter, find my messages in the weekly newsletter, visit the blog page, or send me an email.  Help me work on your behalf and not my guess of it.  I can’t advise or represent the association in the code industry if I’m not connected to the membership.

Hey! I only said “code” eleven times.  Not bad.

-Glenn

 

Lateral Load Language Lesson: 2012 IRC

April 23, 2012 | A subtle change in the 2012 IRC makes the application of the lateral load anchor connection figure more understandable.  Under the 2009 IRC, Section R502.2.2.3 confused some readers by its statement that the lateral load figure, “shall be permitted”, only to later state that “devices shall be installed in not less than two locations”.  The first statement is clear that the connection is merely allowed by code, but not permitted.  However the latter seems to require the use of two or more.

In the 2012 IRC the original intent of the language was clarified, with clear direction. It is only when the connection detail is voluntarily chosen that there must be at least two devices installed.  It is merely a design option.

Overall, this is a good win for the industry.  Success is had when the language of the code can be made clearer.  The more consistently the code is interpreted, the more of a “standard” it can be.

-Glenn

Ask NADRA: Deck Ventilation Requirements

April 30, 2011 | Ken from Orangeburg, SC asks:

“I am wondering is there a minimum height requirement for a
deck to allow for adequate ventilation under the deck. Is this
measured to the top or bottom of the decking timber?”

Glenn Mathewson, NADRA’s Technical Advisor, responds:

Hello Mr. Panitt.

Thank you for turning to NADRA with your questions about the Decking and Railing Industry. We are certainly happy to provide you guidance. The International Residential Code (IRC) and International Building Code (IBC) do not specifically regulate the ventilation of areas underneath exterior decks. IRC Section R408.1 describes the ventilation requirements for under floor spaces, including the minimum net free area, but it is in reference to areas under buildings that are enclosed by foundation walls. While it would certainly be good practice to maintain moisture control under decks that are very low to the ground, its not part of the minimum standard set forth by the IRC. However, in the case of manufactured decking or other products, the installation requirements of the manufacturer are essentially part of the code. This may be from a direct reference to, such as section R317.4.1 in the 09 IRC for wood/plastic composites or through approval as an “alternative”.
I know at least two prominent tongue-and-groove composite decking products that require a minimum height above grade to make up for the lack of air flow between the boards. In both cases the distance was 12 inches of vertical space beneath the bottom of the framing, though the percentage of perimeter where it was required varied. You must always adhere to manufacturer’s installation instructions, not only for good practice, but also for code compliance.
For spaced deck boards, the gaps would likely suffice for ventilation. They may be narrow, but they’re evenly dispersed. One thing to consider, however, is the size of the gaps and the material used. If swelling of wood, expansion of thermoplastics, proximity to heavy autumn leaf fall, long snow coverage or poor maintenance/cleaning is likely, the gaps may close. In that case, additional ventilation openings or greater clearance to grade would be a good plan.

I hope this information is of assistance to you and the visitors of the NADRA blog.

Sincerely,

Glenn Mathewson, MCP

Ask NADRA: Deck Stair Lighting Codes

March 21, 2011 | Lainie Sleppin of Mid-State Lumber asks:

“I am getting a number of calls regarding the code on deck stair
lighting, no pun but can you shed any light on this code so I can
advise correctly. We are talking about guys in the NJ market.

Thanks for your help and have a great weekend.”

Glenn Mathewson, NADRA’s Technical Advisor, responds:

Hello Lainie,

Thanks for your confidence in NADRA, the voice of the decking industry, to be your “go to” when you need quality information on the decking and railing industry. I understand your contractor customers in the New York and New Jersey area have been asking questions lately about lighting at deck stairways. I am happy to provide you assistance in better understanding the requirements of the 2009 IRC in this regard. Many people I discuss this with are surprised that when you read Section R303.6 there are two requirements…one for the location of a lighting fixture, and one for the illumination of the stairway. They are not one in the same.

I have copied below the discussion from ICC’s deck code book, Deck Construction based on the 2009 IRC. Continue reading “Ask NADRA: Deck Stair Lighting Codes”