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Fit for purpose and true to label timber: how to avoid using non-conforming wood products

posted: 25/May/2015

When you’re buying timber it’s essential to ensure the product you purchase is true to label and fit for purpose to avoid premature failure.

Over the last few years the low Australian dollar resulted in an influx of cheap, imported timber.  An opportunity to increase margins and save money saw many enthusiastic builders and DIY’ers experiment with these products rather than use tried and tested Queensland grown timber.  The results haven’t always been positive. 

Alongside this reports of some traders selling decking timber that’s been “passed off” as highly durable species when it’s not has added to the risk of inadvertently purchasing timber that doesn’t meet Building Regulation requirements.

Peak industry body Timber Queensland recommends five simple steps to make sure you’ve got the right timber tools for your job:

1. Construction Timbers in Queensland – check out what timber species are permitted under Queensland Building Regulations for specific purposes in the free downloadable book -Construction Timbers in Queensland. This handy manual describes how to use different timbers in Queensland. It describes the properties of timbers used in the construction of Class 1 to Class 10 buildings (e.g. houses, carports, garages, greenhouses and sheds) in Queensland, as well as other purposes such as furniture, landscaping and outdoor structures (e.g. playgrounds, fences).  It also recommends appropriate uses of timbers across the state.

2. Accredited Queensland Timber Merchant Network - buy timber from a member of the accredited Queensland timber merchant network and you’re guaranteed to receive true to label, fit for purpose Queensland timber at a fair price.As a bonus you'll get the right advice from network staff who are fully trained on building regulations and technical aspects of timber application and use.  You can find your closest member of the network at 

4. Certified timber – if you want to purchase timber from a truly sustainable resource, planted, grown and harvested in accordance with the strictest codes of practice and consistent with the world’s leading environmental standards always buy certified timber and timber products.

Chain-of-custody certification provides a simple mechanism to track timber or forest products from a certified forest throughout the supply chain to an end user. Most international forest certification schemes have associated chain of custody schemes. Having a chain of custody system allows processors to apply certification logos to their products and invoices etc., giving purchasers the highest level of confidence that the timber they are procuring originates from certified sustainably managed.All accredited Queensland timber merchants have achieved or are currently going through the process of obtaining Chain of Custody certification under the Australian Forestry Standard AS4708 (AFS) or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification schemes.

5. Australian Standards – always buy engineered wood products eg plywood, LVL, MDF and particleboard that meet Australian Standards and are stamped with approved certification.  The Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia (EWPAA) has a testing and certification program to check that both Australian and imported material is structurally safe.  This is vital to provide builders and architects peace of mind when specifying engineered wood for high-load applications.  The testing process also provides assurance that products meet all standards for emission levels and are tested to be below formaldehyde levels demanded by health authorities. 

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The Accredited Queensland Timber Merchant Network (AQTMN) is a group of Queensland owned and operated businesses with the aim of growing Queensland's forest and timber industry.

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