Throughout the course of reading this series of articles (see Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3), you may have gained some new appreciation for how truly difficult of a job matching lumber color really is for lumber dealers. Yet, if you’ve seen jaw-dropping magazine photos of homogeneous wood floors and decks, you know that matching color must be possible somehow. That’s what this final article in the series will attempt to explain: effective methods for choosing lumber that achieves the “wow factor” of a uniform look.
Step One: Work with a Reputable Lumber Dealer
It’s critical when you order your lumber to make sure you’re dealing with someone trustworthy. It pays to take the time to do your homework and not just rush to take the lowest bid. Make sure your dealer has a thorough understanding of where their wood is coming from so that color differences due to regional climate variations can be kept at a minimum.
Step Two: Make Sure to Inform Your Dealer that You Want Color Matched Lumber
Some unscrupulous dealers may try to hoodwink uninformed customers into buying higher priced lumber in hopes that the color will be less varied. In reality, the grading system for lumber doesn’t deal with color at all. Furthermore, for tropical decking products, all of the imported materials tend to be of high quality.
If you want consistent color in your lumber, emphasize that point when you consult with your lumber dealer. They will likely be reluctant to offer a blanket guarantee since lumber can’t be perfectly matched and everyone’s perspective on what is or isn’t a “good match” is subjective. They can, however, do their best to try to honor your request, though it could end up making your project more expensive.
Step Three: To Increase Your Chance of Successfully Color Matching, Order Extra Lumber
If you can afford to pay extra, order more lumber than you’ll need for your project. That way you can examine your boards and determine which ones are the best match before installation. This may seem like a hassle, but it could end up making a huge difference in your finished project.
During or before installation if you do run across a board that isn’t an ideal match, try checking to see if the other side of the board would be a more even match. If, even though you’ve allowed the wood time to acclimatize and sunbathe for a while, you find that the board still stands out like a sore thumb, simply don’t use it, or place it in an area where it won’t be as prominent. This is where the extra boards you ordered will come in handy.
Step Four: Slow Down
If you want your lumber to look its best and the colors of the boards to blend together beautifully, it’s going to take some extra work. Wood boards that you order from the lumber yard aren’t a finished product. This is especially true when it comes to decking boards. After the lumber reaches you, allow it some time to rest before installation. This will give the boards a chance to get acclimated to their new environment. You’ll probably notice some of the color variations actually lessen during this resting period.
Step Five: Don’t Forget the Finishing Touches
If you’re working on a decking project, it’s important not to forget to carefully clean and sand your decking boards after installation. You could also consider adding a brightener. Then, apply a quality deck oil. All of these finishing touches will help to solidify the color match of your decking boards.
Though you can put forth every effort to try to get your lumber color to match, be willing to accept the fact that it won’t ever match perfectly. That’s not really a negative point, either. Some subtle natural variation in the wood’s shade and tone will actually give your finished project added character and charm.
Learn More About the Lumber Industry
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.