If you’ve watched any home improvement shows on television or skimmed through house decorating and design magazines, chances are you’ve seen some amazing hardwood floors and decks. These glamorous showplaces seem to boast flooring made from lumber that is not only expertly installed but perfectly color matched for a completely flawless look.
However, achieving that type of uniform appearance for wood floors and decks in real life isn’t always as easy as it seems like it should be. Just ordering lumber made from the same species of wood for your next project won’t guarantee a completely uniform deck or wood floor. In this four-part series of articles, we’ll explain the reasons why color matching wood can be a challenge, and how to find ways to match the lumber for your next project as much as possible.
One of the main reasons color matching your lumber is tricky is rooted in wood’s very nature as an organic building material. Part of the mystique of wood is that it originally comes from living trees in the forest that each have their own individual characteristics. Due to the unique, unpredictable source of your wood, you’ll find a wide range of variation in color and grain even within the same species. Though this variation gives wood much of its charm, it can also prove to be frustrating for homeowners or contractors who are trying to achieve a sense of continuity in a flooring or decking project.
Some of the factors that contribute to color variations in wood would include the location of the source tree, climatic conditions in that region, and the time of year the tree was harvested from the forest. All of these variables will impact the log before it has even made it to the sawmill.
Once it gets to the sawmill, the manner in which the boards are sawn, milled, or dried as well as the duration of time in which they are stored will further impact the color of the wood. With all of these factors to consider, it’s a wonder that wood can even be color matched at all!
Now that you’ve been given this background information about the differences in wood color, you may wonder why contractors and lumber dealers tend to portray the wood products in their ads as perfectly uniform when this look is so difficult to achieve. It’s the same reason you tend to see airbrushed, flawless faces in fashion magazines. Savvy business owners know that this type of advertising sells more lumber than photos of less uniform wood. They want their customers to purchase products from them, so they tend to raise expectations to a sometimes unrealistic level in order to gain customers in a competitive market. This kind of exaggerated advertising can sometimes lead to disappointment.
Perhaps this first article in our series has been enlightening in regards to the reasons why lumber from the same species can display so much variation. In the next article of this four-part series, we’ll look in more detail at how regional climate and weathering can affect the color of the wood.
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J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has become 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. Contact a representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling (800) 638-9100.