Once you realize what you’re up against (see Part 1), we hope you’re ready to take the steps necessary to convert your decking boards into a finished product.
As you work to transform your decking lumber into a finished product, one concern will be dealing with torn grain or rough spots. In essence, wood tends to fight back when a planer goes against the flow of the grain. The result is referred to as tear out, which appears as a rough spot in the wood. Although wood grain typically has a predominant direction, it can also change direction, especially around areas with knots.
Boards with vertical grain or those that are quartersawn can also include rough spots, due to the 90-degree intersection of growth rings with the wide face of the board. The harder fibers can often remain raised above the surface of the remainder of the board; in particularly hard lumber species such as Ipe or Cumaru, these raised areas can be especially prominent.
Sanding: When & How
Sure, we could run all your decking boards through a drum sander before we ship them out; however, the result would be a reduction of thickness uniformly across each board; time and money aside, that doesn’t seem like the ideal solution for evening out areas with raised grain. Often, such rough spots account for only between 1 and 10% of the deck. If we sand those areas prior to installation, we’ll have to sand them all.
A better choice is to use either a random orbital sander or a hand-held belt sander after the deck has been installed. That way, you can address each raised area individually without reducing the overall thickness of all decking boards. The fact that a few areas are slightly thinner than the rest of the deck won’t be obvious at all.
Rest for Weary Boards
After all the travel and fluctuations in moisture levels, decking boards will require some rest once they arrive on your job site. The wood will need time to come into equilibrium with the local climate and moisture levels, and trust us: you want that to happen before boards are installed. It might take just a few days, or it might need a few weeks. If you’re not sure, feel free to ask our lumber experts, who can assess the needs of your lumber based on its point of origin and your local climate. If you don’t wait long enough, you could end up with a deck with boards that aren’t flat or that end up cracking or buckling over time.
While your decking boards will continue to move, once they’re installed you will be able to eliminate major shifts by waiting for the boards to rest a bit. Especially when working with particularly wide or long boards, you will get some bend and bow. However, to reduce the amount of those issues, we recommend allowing extra time for acclimatization as well as using tools such as the Hardwood Wrench.
After that, we also highly suggest applying a few key products to your deck. Continue reading with Part 3