If you’ve ever been on a long journey, you know how exhausting it can be on your mind and body. Sometimes taking a little extra time to rest afterward can do you a world of good. The same is true for your decking boards. In this article (see Parts 1, 2 & 3), we’ll turn our attention away from sanding rough patches and onto the next step in the decking board finishing process: allowing your boards to rest.
Provide Ample Opportunity for the Decking Boards to Rest Before Installation
If you use domestic boards, you’ll want them to rest for a while, but if you choose to use tropical decking from overseas this step is even more critical. Tropical decking boards have gone through several dramatic alterations in climate and overall surroundings on their long journey from the tropical forest to your project site. As an organic product, wood is sensitive to these types of changes. Wood has a tendency to move based on the intake and output of moisture it is subject to in different environments. As the boards seek to acclimate to their new home, you can expect these movements to continue for days or weeks after the boards arrive on site. So as eager as you are to start installing your boards right away upon arrival, resist that temptation, or you’ll be sure to regret it later when the boards start to buckle and crack!
Allow anywhere from several days to a week or more for your boards to reach equilibrium. Do your research to find out the ideal time frame for a particular species of wood to rest when it’s being used in your particular area. Keeping the boards covered up to protect them from the elements can speed up the process and help the boards to acclimate more quickly.
If you do have to rush the process at all due to time constraints, you’ll have to try your best to eliminate the problem of wood movement by careful use of spacing. Professional deck installers who have experience with tropical hardwoods should know the right amount of space to leave between the decking boards for optimal performance.
The more rested your decking boards are when you start the installation process, the better chance they have of not seeing major problems with buckling, cracking, and warping in the future. If you’re using long, wide boards, this resting and acclimation step is even more crucial.
If you’re in the planning stages of a project and you’re trying to get a realistic timeframe in mind for the different steps in the process, be sure to include the proper amount of time for letting the decking boards rest at your work site. As difficult as it can be to wait, you’ll be extremely thankful later on that you took the necessary time to see to it that the job was completed correctly.
In our final article in this series, we’ll consider one last step that you should be sure to take care of after installing your deck if you want it to look its best.