Softwood timber in focus for Standards Australia

A newly amended Australian Standard for timber, AS 2858 Timber – Softwood – Visually stress-graded for structural purposes, is landing at a crucial time for the construction and timber industries.

The recently amended standard, AS 2858, was published in September 2023 and brings much-needed modernisation as it was last updated in 2008.


The committee responsible for this revision, TM-012 (Timber Grading), aimed to specify requirements more clearly for the visual stress grading of sawn softwood intended for structural purposes. The amended standard focuses on the requirements at the time of grading and excludes timber species with an average density below 360kg/m3 at 12% moisture content.

The changes in this edition include the removal of outdated information, the addition of initial qualification testing, the introduction of annual verification checks, the removal of the heartwood in stud grade for seasoned Pinus species and adjustments to moisture content requirements.

From a safety perspective, these changes aim to enhance the reliability of products graded under AS 2858. They remove outdated information and help maintain the applicability of capacity factors in AS 1720 for design.

It’s expected the added testing and verification processes introduced in this revision should give businesses greater clarity and confidence about the reliability of products graded under AS 2858 to the benefit of consumers.

Australia’s softwood timber industry has grown by 2% year-on-year, to 5.1 million cubic metres in 2020-211, but high costs and competition from imports remain a challenge. Up-to-date and reliable standards are required to help improve the industry’s efficiency and competitiveness.

Image courtesy of Sarah Worth via Unsplash

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