Perhaps the title of this article series caught you by surprise. After all, shouldn’t brand new decking boards already be finished and all ready to install right when you pick them up from the lumber yard? If that was your understanding before reading this piece, we’re sorry to have to inform you that it’s simply not true.
Contractors and homeowners alike need to realize that new decking is far from a finished product. Whether it’s Cumaru, Ipe, Pine or Red Cedar, the decking boards you choose for your next project are going to require some extra work before they’re ready to use. In this article series, we’ll take a look at some of the reasons why that is and what you should do to get your new decking boards ready for installation.
Tracking Ipe Decking as It Travels From Forest to Building Site
First, we’ll consider some of the factors that prevent new decking boards from being all set to install. Ipe is one of the most popular decking materials on the market due to its impressive appearance, durability, and stability. Let’s start by looking at the long trip that Ipe decking boards normally take on their way from their country origin to their final destination.
Felled in the Forest
Ipe decking starts as trees that grow many miles away in the Amazon forest. These trees are cut down and the logs are harvested to make decking materials. Thanks to current governmental protections and ethical forestry practices, precautions are taken by reputable dealers to ensure sustainable Ipe harvesting.
Milled Into Decking Boards
After being felled, these logs are sawn into boards and then milled to become the decking boards. These are the ones that perhaps you’ll find advertised in a lumber catalog at a lumber dealership in the United States. After seeing the benefits of this reliable hardwood, you’ll place an order.
Traveling to the Docks on Trucks
Once they’re milled, the boards begin their long journey, ultimately headed to the United States. After arriving by truck in port cities and getting loaded onto cargo ships in metal containers, they’ll be ready to set out to sea. Often the boards will be stacked, unstacked, and stacked again by hand repeatedly before they end up being loaded onto the cargo ships. As you can imagine, there are plenty of opportunities for the boards to get soiled with thick layers of caked-on, dried mud.
Taking an Ocean Voyage
The Ipe boards, which have been air-dried to a moisture content of roughly 18%, are loaded into their metal bins at the docks. These bins tend to heat up significantly in the sun during their long journey across the ocean. During the nighttime on the ocean, those same bins will cool down, which causes condensation. Then, the next day, the condensed water dries as the temperature of the bin rises once again. This process is repeated over and over again throughout the long journey. As a result of these rapid temperature changes and moisture content fluctuations, the boards will pick up water stains as well as show signs of impurities and minerals gathered from the surrounding air.
In our next article, we’ll look at what happens to your boards near the end of the journey as they reach the lumber yard and your work site.