You realize that wood moves and understand how that fact will impact the size gap you incorporate into your new deck. You also know that you’ll need to include time for your decking lumber to acclimate prior to installation. But how much time will that require? Like lumber pricing, the answer to this question isn’t a simple, straightforward one. Instead, it can be answered only after considering a few follow-up questions; after all, asking questions is part of scientific investigation, and wood science is, well, a branch of science. So here we go!
What Installation Method Will You Be Using?
You have two basic options when it comes to decking installation methods: face screwing or a clip system. If you choose to use the face-screwing method, you’ll be restricting wood movement more than if you choose to use a clip system; sure, you’ll be putting a screw through the clip and into the lower tongue of one edge, but that doesn’t compare with the effect of having screws driven through an entire board and, as a result, restraining it from cupping.
If you do choose face-screwing, you don’t really need to worry about leaving time for acclimation; however, if you plan to use hidden clips, stacking and covering your boards for at least a week or two will promote the majority of movement to occur prior to installation, significantly reducing the likelihood of problematic movement after the deck has been installed.
Where Will Your Deck Be Located?
This question actually brings up two issues to consider: the difference in climate between your lumber supplier and your job site and the precise conditions of your job site. If your lumber supplier and job site are in extremely distinct climates, you’ll want to consider that and allow for a little extra time for acclimation. If the deck won’t have optimal amounts of ventilation, you’ll want to allow for extra leeway, too. In addition, if your deck will have a lot of direct exposure to sunlight, it will stand to move even more; better add some extra time.
The idea is to get as much movement out of the way prior to installation; and the more movement your decking boards will stand to endure, based on their intended location, the more time you’ll want to allow. If you anticipate that your job site will produce plenty of movement, give your boards a week or so, stacked and covered. You might even want to leave the shipping banding in place to allow the boards to acclimate.
Once you’ve considered those two questions, we have a couple more for you. And keep this in mind: When in doubt, you can never go wrong by giving your decking boards a little more time than you think they might need.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (mcilvain.com) is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods and has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums. For more information on J. Gibson McIlvain’s lumber products and services, call Monday-Friday toll free (800) 638-9100 to speak with one of their representatives.