Many people mistakenly believe that a decking board is a finished product, when in reality, it needs a few steps beyond the mill to bring it into the category of magazine worthy decking. Tropical decking boards, especially, endure a lot of punishment on their way from the rainforests to U.S. ports. A few important steps must be taken in order to get these boards from their post-transit condition to achieving the goal of being a truly finished product.
From Forest to Lumber Yard
Most decking boards are milled near the forests from which the trees are felled. At that point, they become S4S, E4E decking boards; for those ready for use with clip systems, they also include a routed groove along the edges. In that state, the boards undergo months of travel, typically starting in trucks and then being moved to metal containers used to ship them across the ocean. During that process, the boards are repeatedly stacked and unstacked, often by hand, causing dirt and grime to be ground into the wood fibers.
In addition to the boards’ appearance, this journey takes its toll on their moisture content. Not only does climate change affect the moisture, but the condensation from the metal container can cause boards to soak throughout the night and then endure kiln-like conditions during the day. Mineral deposits and water stains often result. Once the decking boards arrive at a lumber distribution yard, they can wait additional months to make the journey to your job site.
From Lumber Yard to You
During the time your decking boards wait to be pulled for your order, they’re stacked in the dirt, causing added grime to accumulate on them. Having the boards cleaned before they’re shipped is futile, since they’ll be exposed to even more filth en route to your job site and also while awaiting installation and even during installation.
When the boards arrive at your job site, you may notice some not-quite-smooth surfaces on your decking boards. Due to tear out around knots as well as various sawing techniques, you will likely notice rough spots with harder fibers raised above the rest of the surface. Like cleaning, sanding before installation is far from ideal.
Fluctuating moisture levels will also be an issue; in order to allow for acclimatization, you should budget enough time for lumber to gain an equilibrium with your environment; doing so will help installation go much more smoothly.
From Installation to Finish
Some people falsely believe that a decking board suddenly becomes a finished product once it is installed as part of your deck. For optimal beauty and consistency, a hand-held belt sander or random orbital sander should be used to smooth out raised areas. During the sanding process, ground-in dirt will also be removed.
Using cleaning products will provide additional benefits by removing water stains, mineral deposits, and color variations, while brighteners will remove any graying and lighten the entire deck. At that point you have your finished product, installed and ready to admire. Now your deck is picture perfect and ready to be submitted to that magazine.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods.
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums.
Contact a representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling (800) 638-9100.
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