AFI and WPA collaborate on fence post performance investigation


At last year’s AFI Timber in Ground Contact conference, several fencing contractors voiced concerns that the premature failure of some treated posts was affecting their confidence in the use of preservative treated wood.

The Association of Fencing Industries (AFI) and the Wood Protection Association (WPA) recognise the importance of establishing the facts surrounding the experiences of contractors, so an agreement has been reached to investigate treated posts that have not met the service life expectations and to identify the root causes to help prevent a re-occurrence.

WPA Director Neil Ryan says: “We have an ongoing dialogue with AFI and recognise action is required. We need an evidence-based, fuller understanding of why some AFI contractors are experiencing premature failures of fence posts. With the help of AFI members, we are collating information and collecting post samples to investigate and establish the cause of the reduced service life. We’re committed to raising the quality and performance bar for treated wood. Building buyer confidence in the life expectancy of timber products in ground contact is a strategic priority for the WPA and its members.”

AFI CEO Peter Clark adds: “The AFI is not anti-timber but we want timber to last the required years and deliver a service life in ground contact for it to be sustainable. We have seen the massive uptake in other materials by members that has been driven by the lack of confidence in timber. By working together, we are much better placed to agree on a viable resolution to take us forward with renewed confidence. This study is to get results, not just data, as we need to resolve the issue fast with a confident supplier route from forest to fence.”

Both organisations are urging AFI members to send samples for this investigation by first completing the form on the AFI website. You can find more information online at

Whatever the findings of the investigation, it’s imperative that buyers, specifiers and consumers of treated fence posts (and treated timber in general), are aware of what to look for when purchasing their products.

With support from TDUK, the WPA is spreading key messages across the timber supply chain.

  • If you’re buying treated timber, look for third-party accreditation, such as WPA Benchmark and always ask for product documentation, including proof of treatment.
  • If you sell treated timber, ensure it’s fit for purpose by sourcing from a WPA Benchmark Approved Treater.
  • If you treat timber, show you’re a trusted supplier by attaining WPA Benchmark Approved Treater status.