With summer just around the corner, are you dreaming of a brand new deck in time for BBQ season? If so, all you’ll need is a few supplies, and you can get to work right away, right? Well, maybe not. If your lumber has not yet had time to acclimatize, prematurely installing your deck could lead to buckling and cracking well before next year’s tulips have a chance to bloom around it. Whether you’ve purchased Ipe, Sapele, or another species of tropical decking, you’ll want to consider the following facts before you start up that saw or drill.
Moisture Content and Climate Shifts
Freshly dropped exotic hardwood typically has original moisture content of 50% or higher. After being sawn into boards, it’s often air-dried to closer to a 20% moisture level. After that, it’s subjected to milling and shipping to Europe or the US. With the transition into an S4S or E4E (surfaced or eased on 4 sides or edges) and approximately month-long transit period, many changes take place. For lumber that undergoes the additional transition from importer to retailer, additional shifts likely occur; however, even directly imported lumber will endure several climate shifts while in storage at your local lumber yard. Each of these environmental changes is cause for allowing your decking lumber to have time for acclimatization once you bring it home.
Local Storing and Acclimatization
When you arrive home with your beautiful shipment of decking lumber, you probably won’t know its original moisture content or the number of climate changes it’s endured.
Details about its storage, drying, or arrival at your lumber yard are just as elusive. Your decking lumber could have arrived at the retailer only a few months before your purchase, or it could have been waiting for you for years. Because decking lumber is an exterior, air-dried product, it will need some time to adjust to its surroundings before it’s ready to be fastened into place. This process takes time.
Protecting Your Investment
Planning ahead can go a long way toward protecting your investment in high-quality decking lumber. Once you bring it home, you’ll want to stack it somewhere cool and dry, where it can sit out for at least a week. Due to length, you may not have enough space in your garage, so covering it with a tarp may be your only option. You’ll also want to sticker it in order to allow the air to flow between boards, allowing you to reduce the chances of movement, much as possible. From a few days to a week should be all it takes to ensure that your decking lumber will be ready to be fastened into place, where it will be there for your summer BBQs for years to come.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has immersed itself in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) is 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, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums.