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What You CE May Not Be What You Get

Jim Coulson says without the CE mark products are illegal

I WROTE in a recent article (CFJ May 2013) that the CE Mark can often be regarded as meaning not much more than Chinese Exports: and it is true that a lot of plywood has been coming to the UK from China, with the letters CE stamped on it, or printed on a label attached to it.
But – as from July 1 this year – all plywood, from whatever source – must have a CE Mark on it, by law.
The Law in question is the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) which came into force less than three months ago; and it applies to any product (not just a timber one) that is incorporated into permanent construction and which is covered by a harmonised’ European Standard.
What is meant by that last bit, is that the Standard must be in force across the entire EU, and is not simply relevant in only one country: which is the case with many of our British Standards.
Not every construction product is covered by a harmonised standard of course (these documents are more properly known as Euro Norms – and a harmonised one is referred to rather quaintly as a hEN – which makes it sound like a pet!).
In the world of wood products, constructional timber has been covered by EN 14081 for a number of years; whilst for plywood, the harmonised Standard is EN 13986: 2004.
CE Marking as a concept has in fact been with us for years and years, but the UK has always chosen to opt out of its requirements: and this was permissible, when all we had was the CPD – or Construction Products Directive.
But as a country, we can no longer escape those requirements, now that the CPD has become the CPR – since the title now bears that all-important word regulation (meaning of course, law).
Please remember what I told you in my article in the May issue of CFJ that the use of a CE Mark does not necessarily guarantee the total quality of a product.
But from now on, when you buy plywood to do most building-related jobs, there must be a CE Mark on it somewhere: either stamped on each sheet directly, or on a detachable label affixed to it. Otherwise, it will not be legal – and you will not be allowed to use it.

Jim Coulson is Director of TFT Woodexperts, based in Ripon, North Yorkshire
T: 01765 601010

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at