UK fencing contractors surveyed on introducing treated timber post warranty scheme

11 December 2020

Contractors in the fencing industry are being surveyed to see if they will back a warranty scheme in a bid to solve problems when treated timber fence posts fail prematurely.

Already some 200 have responded to the questionnaire by the Association of Fencing Industries (AFI) which is proposing the establishment of a specialist scheme offering “total cost replacement” provided installation was to an agreed criteria.

“This is the first step in trying to sort this out once and for all,” said AFI CEO Ian Ripley, “and bring an end to the contractor having to pay for the costs of replacing failed posts, when the supplier’s guarantee covers only the supply of a replacement post." 

The AFI traced the early treated fence post failure issue to the sales ban of the traditional CCA – Chromated Copper Arsenate treatments – in 2006 on environmental grounds and the subsequent withdrawal of chromium preservatives.

The AFI has approached the Wood Protection Association (WPA) to discuss the situation.

The WPA has done comprehensive work on treatment standards including introducing WPA Benchmark Approved schemes covering Formulation, Treater and Product.

Mr Ripley acknowledged the WPA’s view that the treatment levels should be specified correctly and products used in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions, with wood intended for ground contact needing to be specified and treated as Use Class 4 to BS8417.

A combination of factors is blamed for situations when treated timber posts fail early – including users buying solely on cost without reference to quality or accurate specification and/or possible poor treating/timber drying practices in some cases.

Mr Ripley said UK fencing contractors had borne the cost of when failures happen for too long.

He said a warranty scheme would allow contractors to use the products covered by the scheme secure in the knowledge that the total cost of early post failure replacement - removal, disposal and replacement, including labour and materials - is covered by the supply chain.

This, the AFI argues, would be game-changing with the aim of ensuring that only fit for purpose timber is used but would likely add up to another 3% to the cost of materials.

“The AFI questionnaire is designed to give a very clear picture of contractor opinion," said Mr Ripley.

Both AFI members and non-members are being asked to reply.