Composite and plastic decking will continue to encroach on wood’s market share in upcoming years, according to The Freedonia Group, a market research firm. In a promotion for its report “Wood & Competitive Decking” (available at for $4,800), the company reveals some of the highlights. For one, the report predicts that total demand for residential decking will grow 2.6 percent a year through 2013, thanks in part to an expected recovery in the new-housing market. Also, demand for wood-plastic composites and other wood alternatives will grow almost 10 percent a year, according to the report, whereas demand for wood decking will grow less than 1 percent a year. Still, wood isn’t disappearing from the backyard landscape, by any means. While suppliers can expect to sell 835 million lineal feet of wood-plastic composite, plastic, and “other” decking in 2013, wood decking will dominate the market with 2.8 billion lineal feet of sales, says the report.

Green building isn’t just about recycled materials. One issue to consider when buying wood products is forest management; a number of organizations certify that the source of the wood in a company’s products has been harvested responsibly. ILevel by Weyerhaeuser announced in May that it has received Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certification for its structural framing materials. More information on SFI certification is available at

In May, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a recall of Louisiana Pacific composite decking. The CPSC notice follows nine months after LP issued its own advisory that some WeatherBest, ABTCo., and Veranda decking manufactured at LP’s plant in Meridian, Idaho, before November 2007 has deteriorated prematurely. Because someone was injured falling through defective decking, LP was required to report the product problems to the CPSC, thus the recall. However, the company’s program to replace affected decking is the same as in its earlier advisory. For more information, contact LP toll free at 888/325-1184, or visit

EPA law applies to both exterior and interior renovations

Few dispute that lead is toxic and that dust from sanding, cutting, or otherwise disturbing lead paint can cause health problems both for children coming in contact with it and for adults creating the dust when renovating older housing. Most professional contractors are aware of the hazards and take appropriate precautions. But beginning next year, federal law will require contractors to be trained and certified under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2008 Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program (RRP). Any renovation activity — including a deck project — that disturbs at least 20 square feet of lead paint on the outside (or 6 square feet on the inside) of a house, school, or child-care facility built before 1978 will be subject to the regulations in the EPA program.

EPA pamphlet. In fact, one provision of the RRP has been in effect since December 2008. It requires contractors — before starting any work on pre-1978 housing and child-occupied facilities — to give property owners and occupants the EPA pamphlet “Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers, and Schools.” (That pamphlet and other EPA lead-paint publications are available free at Contractors also must document their compliance with this requirement and keep a record of it for three years; a “pre-renovation disclosure form,” available on the EPA’s Web site, can be used until April 2010 (when a similar form will take its place).

The bulk of the program’s provisions, however, will go into effect on April 22, 2010. Then contractors will have to follow EPA-prescribed lead-safe work practices; and company certification, employee training and certification, and additional recordkeeping requirements will kick in. Two pamphlets designed to help contractors comply with the new rules — “Small Entity Compliance Guide to Renovate Right” (below left) and “Lead Safety During Renovation” — are available free at the EPA’s Web site. Though the deadline is still several months away, the EPA recommends that anyone disturbing lead paint before then follow lead-safe work practices — such as containing the work area, minimizing dust, and cleaning up thoroughly — anyway.

Company certification. All firms (including self-employed contractors) working on pre-1978 housing will be required to be certified by the EPA. Initial firm certification will cost $300 and will need to be renewed every five years. Firms can begin applying to the EPA for certification on October 22, 2009, by submitting an “Application for Firms,” available from the National Lead Information Center (800/424-5323) and at the EPA’s Web site.

Employee training. In preparation for the April 2010 deadline, the EPA has developed new lead-safety certification courses to comply with the RRP rules and is currently accrediting trainers to offer them; a list of accredited trainers will be posted sometime this summer on the EPA’s Web site.

In each firm, at least one employee will need to become a “certified renovator.” This entails taking an eight-hour “Renovator Initial Training Course” from an EPA-, tribal-, or state-accredited trainer and earning a course completion certificate (a copy of which certified renovators will have to carry at any applicable job site). The EPA has also created a four-hour “Renovator Refresher Training Course” for contractors who have already taken an EPA/HUD lead-safety course.

At least one certified renovator will have to oversee the job site to ensure compliance with RRP rules. This person will be responsible for testing for lead and containing and cleaning the work area, as well as training other workers in any lead-safe practices that apply to their assigned activities.

Recordkeeping. Contractors will need to keep records for three years showing compliance with the RRP. The EPA has posted a sample recordkeeping checklist (see form) on its Web site. Examples of required records include lead-paint testing results, documentation that the EPA pamphlet was delivered, and documentation of lead-safe work practices.

The “Small Entity Compliance Guide” (left), free online at pubs/renovation.htm, summarizes the EPA’s new lead-paint law. Included are forms such as this checklist (right) to help contractors comply with recordkeeping requirements.

Exterior lead-safe practices. The RRP prescribes lead-safe work practices for both interior and exterior renovations. Deck builders who will be disturbing 20 square feet of lead paint need to close doors and windows within 20 feet of the work. If there are any doors in the work area that will be used during the course of the job, they should be covered with plastic so workers can use them without allowing dust and debris through. For at least 10 feet beyond the work area in all directions — or farther, if necessary — the ground has to be covered with plastic to collect paint debris. Vertical containment is required when the work area is close to other buildings or in windy conditions. At the end of the job, the work area has to be thoroughly cleaned, and all waste needs to be disposed of in such a way that the paint debris is contained.

Some states and localities have requirements for renovations on pre-1978 housing that are stricter than the EPA’s. The National Lead Information Center (800/424-5323) is one source for information about state-specific lead-paint regulations. — Laurie Elden