By now most of the remaining CCA-treated lumber at pro dealer yards nationwide has been sold out and suppliers are beginning to move stocks of ACQ (alkaline copper quat), copper azole, and borate-treated products. Though most builders are begrudgingly accepting of the price premium on most of the new products, the transition is far from over, especially for pro dealers who relish their role of providing valuable product information and complementary product lines to their contractor customers.
In fact, the move away from CCA means more than just specifying a new type of lumber, writes Katy Tomasulo in “Change Order,” an article on contractors adjusting to new treated lumber products in the May/June 2004 issue of TOOLS OF THE TRADE, a sister publication of PROSALES. For starters, many contractors are unaware that recent testing has shown that two popular alternative preservatives—ACQ and copper azole—are more corrosive to metal than CCA, which has raised concerns about how fasteners will hold up in the materials over time.
Michael Davis, owner of Framing Square in Albuquerque, N.M., is one contractor who has been following the situation closely. When his lumber dealer mentioned that a delivery he was about to receive contained ACQ, he knew he had to get new fasteners out to his crews. “If I hadn't known already, I would have said ‘Oh, a different kind of [treated lumber]. OK, fine, thanks, talk to you later,'” Davis tells TOOLS OF THE TRADE. “And we would have been building something that potentially could have fallen apart.” Still, Davis didn't have any pneumatic galvanized nails, so his piece crews had to hand-nail, and automatically charged him an additional 7 cents more per square foot.
Now that the CCA phase-out is well underway, packaging products like appropriate fasteners and tools along with new pressure treated lumber can be a terrific up-sell to help contractors overcome both the knowledge gap and the empty hands on the jobsite. According to Tomasulo's research, treatment manufacturers are generally recommending a minimum of stainless steel fasteners or hot-dipped galvanized fasteners that meet ASTM A153 standards and connectors that meet ASTM A653 Class G185 sheet or better, as well as any fasteners tested and recommended by individual fastener companies.
Communicating proper fastener requirements to contractors also positions dealers as valuable allies during jobsite inspections. Greg Hutchison, a building code official for Cañon City, Colo., tells TOOLS OF THE TRADE that he has been handing out information on new regulations and enforcing them since his district adopted the 2000 IRC in 2002.
“It's a headache a lot of people don't even know they've got yet,” Davis says. “It's going to be amazing down the road six months from now when builders wake up and realize they have built their last 20–30 houses with ACQ and they don't know whether or not the right fasteners were used. There's going to be some sleepless nights.”
That's exactly why you need to offer the most up-to-date product information and consistent supply. If you can put your contractor customers' fears to rest, everyone will get a good night's sleep.