Besides the wood grain itself, several things can impact the color of your lumber (see Parts 1 & 2). These include natural weather phenomena like rain, sunshine, and wind, regional climactic differences. In this article, we’ll explore some of the ways these factors come into play when it comes to changing wood color.
Color Variations Due to the Effects of the Elements
After your decking boards are installed, you’ll notice that the color will inevitably start to change. Sunshine, rain, and wind will all work together to fade the boards. They’ll end up a nice silvery gray color if you choose not to artificially change their color with a stain or paint. As the fading process takes place, it’s normal for some boards to fade more quickly than others. Don’t be alarmed when this happens. Because of its organic nature, wood is unpredictable when it comes to fading. Eventually, if you’re patient, the shade should even out and provide the uniform look you’re hoping to achieve.
If you have freshly milled boards, you’ll notice that the differences in color may be pronounced. This happens because the moisture from the inside of the boards is gradually working its way out to the surface. As the board changes in its chemical makeup, it will also transform in color. Over time, as the chemical change process finishes, the boards will start to adjust to a similar color. Laying the boards out in the sun can help to speed up the mellowing process.
Source Locations Can Cause Differences in Color
If you think you can get a uniform lumber color just by specifying the species of wood you want, think again. Tropical hardwoods that are used for decks, such as Ipe and Cumaru, grow in vast regions within their native lands. The soil chemistry makeup and climactic differences across these various regions will play a major role in the colors of wood you end up with due to different wood density. Some other regional differences besides density include mineral streaking as well as fire or flooding-related characteristics.
The Journey From a Board’s Source to the Lumber Yard Can Impact Color
The most highly sought-after wood used for decking materials comes from tropical regions of the world. As the lumber makes its way across the world, these boards will be exposed to all sorts of different conditions that can dramatically alter their appearance.
As soon as the boards are sawn and perhaps also milled, they’ll begin to give off moisture. Then, when they’re packed into shipping containers, they’ll end up traveling in extreme heat or rain and mud. As a result of these harsh conditions, the boards will accumulate dirt, grime, moisture, and stains.
Both in port and in the lumber yards, the boards will spend a lot of time sitting around or being moved from place to place with a forklift. After all of these numerous conditions, it’s no wonder that the boards you purchase may require a thorough cleaning before they can be used.
In our final article in this series, we’ll look at ways you can respond to all of the factors that can cause wood colors not to match.
Continue reading with Part 4.