Louisiana-Pacific Corp.'s LP Building Products is warning owners of WeatherBest, ABTCo, and Veranda decking and railings made at its Meridian, Idaho, plant and sold between January 2005 and October 2007 that the composite material could be deteriorating prematurely and pose a risk of injury.

The composite decking materials made at the Meridian plant after Fiber Composites bought it in October 2007 are not subject to the advisory. Fiber Composites changed the formula immediately after the purchase, that company said.

The advisory was prompted after LP began receiving claims that the product, which looks similar to natural wood and is sold in different colors, is deteriorating more quickly than it should, said LP spokesperson Mary Cohn.

"We have had a couple of reports of relatively minor injuries, not a huge amount," she said. "We want to get ahead of it so no one gets hurt."

LP is not sure how much of the affected products were sold to builders versus do-it-yourselfers or which builders bought the products, because it was sold through distributors and dealers "and we are not always aware of everyone who has bought the product." A map of the product distribution shows a heavier concentration of sales on the West Coast. The products sold through distributors carried the WeatherBest name, while Veranda and ABTCo were sold through Home Depot.

Cohn said the company has sent advisories of possible product defects to 5,000 dealers and installers in its database. Builders who installed the product may call the company's hotline at (888) 325-1184 or go to LP's decking advisory Web site at www.deckingnotice.com.

Builders can either pass the information on to their buyers or give the customer names to LP, which will contact them directly. "We want to take the onus off of them [builders], and we will deal directly with their homeowners, but we need to know who they are," she said.

The LP Web site also offers tips on how to identify the product covered in the advisory. Consumers who do have the product installed are advised to check it for visible cracks or surface deterioration, such as chipping. If those signs are found, LP advises not to use the deck and to call LP decking customer service to arrange for an inspection. The company will replace those decks that exhibit deteriorating product.

Even those whose decks do not show signs of premature deterioration are asked to register their deck with LP so it can be inspected. LP wants to inspect all decks made of materials manufactured during the timeframe in question to see which may be failing and which aren't in an attempt to ascertain what is causing the failures. All the company knows now is that there was some sort of manufacturing process variation, said Cohn.