Don’t take offence, but the UK timber industry needs to up its game on treated products for ground contact use.

As the UK fencing and landscaping season kicks into top gear, leading timber and sawmilling business James Jones and Sons Ltd recently took the bold decision to withdraw Use Class 3 treated fence posts and landscaping sleepers from their product range. For ground contact applications, only Use Class 4 treatment is suitable, in the case of sawn spruce, the only way to guarantee longer term performance and longevity of service is to incise the timber prior to chemical treatment.

To show its total commitment to UC4 timbers, James Jones has invested £17.5m in a purpose built secondary timber processing facility at Hangingshaw, three miles north of its Stevens Croft site in Dumfries and Galloway. The company, which now operates from 17 sites across Great Britain, is confident that investments the company has made during the last two years will, in the years ahead, lead to a substantial reduction in the number of fence posts and garden timbers that fail prematurely.

The Hangingshaw facility includes a multi-head re-saw line to produce feather edged boards and fencing slats, a re-sawing and cross-cutting line and additional incising capacity. Six on-site kilns and a 20-metre pressure treatment vessel boost kilning and treatment capacity. However, the centrepiece of the new facility is a 22,000m2 storage shed, which is the size of three full size football pitches. This provides covered storage protecting finished stock from the elements thereby maintaining stock integrity and consistency of appearance prior to despatch. The storage area dramatically enhances the company’s ability to build stocks in a range of key fencing specifications ahead of seasonal demand and, more importantly, maintain stock availability and reduce lead-times during peak periods.

Speaking about the development, James Jones’ Joint Managing Director, Ian Pirie, said: “This new facility will allow us to greatly increase our ability to meet the demand for a wide range of fencing products. Forecasting demand is notoriously difficult, but this facility allows us to react to fluctuations in customer demand and enable us to service the market more efficiently. This is the latest stage in the development of our existing Lockerbie operations, which, in turn, will mean an even better service for our customers.”

Clearly, the move to supplying only UC4 for ground contact products is well in hand at James Jones, but what the timber industry as a whole needs to do is educate end users that UC4 timber for ground contact uses – incised where necessary – is the only way forward if they want fencing and landscaping projects to last long term.

A picture can paint a thousand words and nowhere is that more true than when you compare a cross section of incised and treated spruce to a section of non-incised treated spruce. As clearly shown in the accompanying images, incising allows the envelope of protection to grow from just 1mm to 6mm. That is why in partnership with our treatment providers, Lonza and Wolman, James Jones is confident to offer a 15-year guarantee on all incised fencing products. The Americans and Australians have been incising their timber for 30 years; isn’t it high time the UK caught up?

For more information on incised treated fencing and landscaping specifications please visit mesjones.co.uk/fencing where you can see our full range and specifications available.