In our first article in this series, we began looking at the journey that tropical hardwood decking boards such as Ipe or Cumaru make on their way from the forest to the job site. We mentioned how after they’re felled, sawn, and milled, they’re taken to port and loaded up into cargo containers and put on board ships bound for the locations where they’ll be sold. Let’s take a closer look at what happens to these boards during their ocean voyage.
Across the Ocean: Where The Boards are Exposed to Extreme Conditions
Normally, this type of tropical hardwood decking boards will be dried to a moisture content of roughly 18%. Then, it’s loaded into these metal shipping containers that can mimic what the boards go through when they’re placed into a kiln. The heat and intensity of the sunlight make the interior temperature of the containers rise. During the night time, those temperatures drop significantly, causing condensation. All that moisture will end up on the boards. Then, when the heat rises again, evaporating the water, all sorts of impurities and minerals end up on the boards. These conditions can cause the boards to emerge from the containers with water stains.
On to the Lumber Yard: Where The Boards Sit & Wait to be Purchased
The next leg of the journey after their sea voyage will land the decking boards at the distributor’s yard. In the process of getting unloaded and moved around, they’ll accumulate more dirt and mud. There’s no point in the lumber yards cleaning or sanding the boards before they’re shipped to the job site, because the boards will just have plenty of more chances to get dirty along the way. Ultimately, trying to clean the boards up prematurely will just add unnecessary effort, time, and expense to the process.
Arrival at the Job Site: Where the Boards Accumulate More Stains & Mud
Once the boards reach their final destination, they’ll end up getting stacked once again. This stacking often takes place directly on the ground, where the boards get even dirtier. As they sit there while you wait for them to acclimate to their new surroundings, the boards have even more opportunities to get wet, stained and muddy. This is especially true if you experience any type of precipitation during the installation process. If it rains so hard that you have to halt installation and cover the boards with a tarp, that sets up the perfect scenario for them to gain moisture through condensation. Another source of dirt and grime is the muddy work boots of the installation team.
As you can see, there are good reasons why many decking dealers don’t go through the hassle and expense of cleaning or sanding the decking boards that they ship out to various job sites. They’re not being lazy, they’re just trying to save you time and money. Ipe, Cumaru, and other hardwood decking materials are simply going to take some extra work if you want to rid them of all the impurities they’ve picked up along the way from the forest to your job site.
In our next article, we’ll look at some practical steps you can take to prepare and maintain your decking boards.