If you purchase decking boards, you’ll notice that they typically have their pointy corners blunted a bit. They already have their four faces planed as well. The boards may even have a groove already present depending on the type of fastening system you plan to use. All of these steps that have been taken to get your decking boards ready for use may cause you to think that they’re already a finished product. However, they aren’t finished. Contractors and homeowners who make this mistake may be disappointed at the condition their boards are in when they arrive at the job site.
Domestic decking boards made from Red Cedar or Pine aren’t a finished product right when they reach the job site. This is even more true for your tropical hardwood options such as Ipe or Cumaru. What they are is a building material, and you’ll need to put forth some effort to prepare them for installation.
In this series of 5 articles, we’ll explain why your hardwood decking boards aren’t a finished product and what you can do to get them ready to install. We’ll also look at some practical maintenance tips to keep your decking in great shape for years to come.
How Ipe Decking Travels From Forest to Job Site
Let’s consider for a few moments where the boards originated from. Then we’ll explore the various steps they go through on their way from the forest to the job site. This recollection of your decking boards’ voyage will help you gain a realistic viewpoint when it comes to what you should expect the boards to look like when they arrive.
The Forest: Where The Adventure All Begins
Your beautiful Ipe decking has quite a long and arduous trip to make before it reaches its final destination. It starts in the forests of the Amazon. In that same general location, it will be sawn into boards. After this, the next step is milling, where it will take the shape of the boards that will eventually end up at your job site. Next, it will be stacked up and brought by truck to the port. Then, after it’s put into metal cargo containers that are loaded onto a ship, it gets ready for the next leg of the journey at sea.
The Sawmill: Where Boards Get Milled and Muddy
As soon as the boards are milled, they start coming into contact with contaminants that can impact their appearance. The boards frequently get stacked, unstacked, and restacked again, sometimes two or three times, before they arrive at the port. Dirt and mud can quickly become caked onto the boards during this process. When this ground-in mud dries onto the boards, it can be difficult to remove.
In our next article, we’ll share what happens to your tropical hardwood decking boards during their long sea voyage. Then we’ll continue to trace their journey to your job site. Hopefully, you’ll start to understand more about why carefully preparing your boards before you install them is so important.