A forensic exercise

21 March 2016

find myself surrounded by wood at the moment, literally, as builders start on a major project at home.

Stripping away a building is a bit like a forensic exercise as you see what builders have done in previous decades.

In terms of the wood, you can see North American markings on some larger beams, perhaps reflecting the time when the flow of structural softwood between Canada and the UK was stronger. While the timber looks good quality, there is a world of difference in its appearance and sizing from products sold today.

The timber being ripped out - studs, joists and rafters - is all sawn wood with wane and other rough features dating from the 1920s-1980s.

And sizes are far reduced from what you would find in a new house today. It's a bit unnerving to see your first floor was constructed with four-inch joists. "Bouncy" is the word that comes to mind.

In case you're wondering, most of this will be recycled! I'm sure for someone the 8ft high stack of timber will be an Aladdin's Cave.

Moving on, in this issue of TTJ we take a look at the issue of the UK's referendum on membership of the EU.

We contacted a lot of people on this issue and what's clear is that many haven't yet made up their mind. Many are also unwilling to currently publicise their views.

It's undoubtedly one of the most important votes of our time with the potential for large economic ramifications. But, as Geoff Rhodes puts it in his comment the key questions in the debate don't seem to be being addressed well enough.

Staying on the subject of Europe, the EU has published its review on the EU Timber Regulation and the findings are interesting.

There is clearly room for improvement, enforcement resources have at times been limited and implementation has been uneven across Europe.

On the positive side, the EUTR has raised awareness on the issue of illegal logging, timber traders have needed to look at their sourcing and implementation is likely to get better over the next two years.

Introducing such a major piece of legislation was never going to be easy and I suspect the landscape will look a lot clearer after the next review.

Our main sector focus this month is Decking & Garden Products

It's clear there is a trend of consumers trading up and becoming more discerning. This includes people buying more design-led fencing, upmarket sheds and highervalue decking products, with wood-plastic composite predicted to make major gains in the latter sector.

Modified wood brands are also making more inroads into the market, while there is increased emphasis on verified legal and sustainable hardwood.