As we examined “What Makes Decking Lumber an Unfinished Product,” hopefully you realize that despite its appearances, a decking board is not a finished wood product. You may think that all the travel-weary boards need is a good cleaning; it’s not quite that simple, though.
Allowing Time for Rest
Just like it’s good for all of us to plan some buffer time to recover from a long journey, your decking lumber needs time to recover. Due to the volatile moisture levels experienced throughout the journey from rain forest to your job site, your lumber needs time to acclimate.
This is not a step that can be abbreviated, and failing to allow enough time for the lumber to acclimate can lead to buckling or cracked boards after installation, with no recourse but to start from scratch.
Depending on the climate variation, your boards may need only a few days or even several weeks in order to achieve equilibrium. Because longer and wider boards have increased ability to bend or bow, such boards need to rest for longer time frames before installation. Of course, after installation, even acclimatized boards will endure some movement; however, when boards are stable when installed, the movement will be predictable, and proper installation can allow for such variation.
Sanding After Installation
After you allow decking boards a chance to rest and acclimate to the moisture content at your job site, the boards still won’t be finished products; they will, however, be ready for installation.
A newly installed deck requires sanding in order to smooth out rough spots and raised grain. Sometimes, there has been tear out due to knots or swirls in the grain. When sawn against the grain of the wood, there will be rough spots that need to be smoothed out.
In addition, other rough spots can be caused by harder fibers intersecting growth rings that remain raised, as a result of vertical grain or quarter-sawing. (This effect is more extreme with certain species, notably Ipe and Cumaru.) By using either a random orbital sander or hand-held belt sander, raised areas will be smoothed while the accumulated dirt and grime will be eliminated. At the same time, the thickness across the deck will not be significantly reduced, making this method a win-win scenario.
Those boards still won’t be finished products, though.
After a time of rest, installation, and sanding, your decking boards will be close to being finished products. Even after sanding, unsightly marks such as mineral deposits, baked-on dirt/grime, and water stains can mar the appearance of an otherwise beautiful deck. These marks that even a pressure washer can’t remove can be virtually erased by using a mild abrasive cleanser.
After a cleaner is used, you may want to let the deck take in the sunshine for a few days before re-evaluating the need for a brightening product. While a brightener is typically used many years after installation, it can also be helpful to use soon after installation in order to lighten the deck or remove any premature graying that has occurred as a result of UV exposure.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed 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.
Contact a representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling (800) 638-9100.