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Huge Growth Predicted In I-Joist Construction Use

By Tony Kryzanowski
Copyright 1996. Contact publisher for permission to use.

Production of I-joists will triple in the United States and double in Canada by the year 2000, predicts the American Plywood Association (APA). The APA, headquartered in Tacoma, Washington, represents oriented strand board (OSB) manufacturers, plywood manufacturers and I-joist manufacturers. It predicts North American production will jump from 397 million lineal feet in 1995 to 975 million lineal feet by 2000. Increased production over the next four years is nearly the equivalent of two new OSB plants.

However, that growth prediction depends on adoption of industry-wide performance standards, opposed by larger I-joist manufacturers. “They envision I-joists as a proprietary product,” says APA market researcher Craig Adair, “but we think it already has turned into a commodity product.”

The APA wants to set a performance standard and believes its standard will receive Building Code acceptance by January 1, 1997. That, they believe, will accelerate I-joist usage as builders become more comfortable with it and when building code inspectors only have one set of standards to consider. APA says I-joist floor construction usage in American residential homes jumped from three per cent in 1988 to 19 per cent in 1996. About 300 million lineal feet of the total 397 million lineal feet of North American production in 1995 was used as residential floor support.

Other uses were for long-span roofs such as cathedral ceilings, remodelling and non-residential construction. I-joists are an engineered wood product, used by builders as a replacement product for 2x10s and 2x12s, primarily as wood fl oor support. It comprises either two gro oved 2x3 or 2x4 board lengths, on either side of an OSB or plywood interior. The I joists with 2x4 lengths tend to be used more in commercial and industrial applications. They are generally lighter to carry, sometimes weighing as little as half the weight of a comparable piece of dimen-sional lumber.

Prices for I-joists tend to be less volatile, as most of the cost to produce an I-joist is not material, but comprises labour and overhead.

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