SMA - Mississippi State University - USDA Forest Products Laboratory
Is Wood a Suitable Material for Stairs, Handrails and Guards?
The SMA, MSU, and the USDA FPL have entered a cooperative agreement to determine the structural design values for the Kiln Dried, "Clear" grades of hardwoods and softwoods most commonly used in the stair industry. Design values are used by engineers to determine that the structural properties of stairway, handrail, and guard systems are compliant with the structural requirements of the building code. The only design values currently known and available for use are for structural number 1 and number 2 common grades containing far more defect. This results in lower values and over engineering of stair industry products manufactured from wood.
The determination of the "true" values for the virtually clear, defect free materials used by the stair industry will provide a substantial advantage for the continued use of wood in stairway products and aid in promoting the efficacy of its use when compared to steel, concrete and glass materials that have become highly competitive substitutes.
A more complete understanding of the urgent relevance of this project is provided in the "Research in Progress Report" link below. If the continued use of wood as material for stairways and other structural applications is important to you please register the test samples you can provide by completing the "Testing program registration" at the link below.