In a move which mirrors competitor Louisiana-Pacific’s decision to sell a standard off-the-shelf I-joist in merchant branches, Steico said the continuing downturn in UK housing starts meant it was vital to look at different market sectors.

Steico’s main I-joist focus has been on supplying the timber frame and national/regional housebuilder market. “There has always been a good deal of smoke and mirrors concerning the supply, design and use of I-joists,” said Steico UK managing director Andy Moore.

“Our new tradejoist initiative is a positive move to simplify the I-joist experience for smaller users and developers and to open up the supply chain to non-specialist merchant customers.”

The tradejoist features a solid softwood flange, rather than standard LVL, for ease of fixing, while a coating has been added for improved moisture resistance and all joists are stamped with usage instructions.

Matching rectangular LVL sections are being supplied alongside the joists, while simplifed literature has been produced.

The first tradejoists will arrive at Rochester at the start of September. Mr Moore hopes Travis Perkins and Buildbase depots will be the first to stock tradejoist. An “access” version with pre-drilled holes for services is being planned.

He said DIY chains were also interested. “If we could get in there that would be a great thing,” he added. Tradejoist will be available in single specification – 220mm deep with a 60mm-wide flange in 3.6m, 4.8m and 6m lengths.