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Improper Use of Treated Lumber

Posted 4 November 2015 9:45 PM by Chris Fox

There is a difference in treated lumber — the details are spelled out on every lumber end tag. Building pros and DIYers need to be informed … and care. You see, being affiliated with a brand and company that promotes the many benefits of treated lumber has made me more watchful about the proper and improper uses of our lumber. Unfortunately, there can be consequences when treated lumber is used incorrectly. A deck collapse is among the worst. Lumber treated for aboveground use will inevitably fail (rot) in a ground contact application.

I recently came across an incorrect use of treated lumber in West Michigan as I was running the stairs at a nature area off the shore of Lake Michigan.

Improper Use

I discovered that 2x6 lumber treated for above ground use is being used in a ground contact application. Unfortunately, this is a common oversight. Just as important, I noticed the lumber end tag failed to reveal a warranty, which is critical if the wood does not live up to expectations and verification of the amount wood preservative. If there’s not enough preservative in the wood it will rot.


In this instance, I want my parks and recreation leader and building official to understand that the wrong treated lumber was used at this job site. Using the right lumber is a step in the right direction as we make certain our tax dollars are used wisely and not for replacing failing lumber next year or shortly thereafter.

You can find more information on treated lumber end tags here.

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