After over 200 years of exclusively supplying solid lumber, J. Gibson McIlvain is branching out into new territory. I suppose we wet our feet by first adding softwoods to our repertoire, followed closely by hardwood plywood. Our recent addition of an environmentally friendly manufactured product called NuCedar is definitely new ground for us.
Our hesitation about offering composite materials is also regularly challenged. Many customers contact us asking for green decking solutions which are more affordable than our top-of-the-line imported exotic hardwoods such as Ipe or Teak. Customers ask us about composite decking materials which they may have seen advertised in a builders magazine as an affordable earth-friendly decking solution. From our perspective, we are strong adherents to our longtime commitment to quality. The battle between the lumber and composite decking industries has certainly been well fought. When it comes to the environmental factors involved in manufacturing composites, the industry claims that they’re utilizing products that would otherwise be seen as waste.
However, the lumber side argues that the composite decking manufacturers’ reliance on industries that produce such waste seems to give credence to their methods. Besides the issues related to the manufacturing process and biodegradability, quality concerns and consistency in color have generally made us shy away from such supposedly green products. From a customer’s perspective, quality concerns combined with pricing that is still quite high make these composite products less than ideal.
High-quality, tropical hardwood lumber remains the most durable and greenest building material on the market today. Ipe, in particular, tops the charts as the most durable and beautiful high-quality hardwood decking species. Unfortunately, it’s also the most expensive, and governmental regulations threaten to shut down the entire Ipe industry. In case of continually rising prices and/or lack of availability, we’ve been on the lookout for an alternative decking product that rivals the premium characteristics of Ipe. Enter Ipanema Decking.
An FSC-certified product using many tropical species, Ipanema Decking is a sustainable, durable, finished decking product that stands apart from other composite products. The basic premise is that by using many lesser-known tropical species, Ipanema eliminates the problems of overharvesting any single species by using more of the forest. As a result, repercussions from CITES would be a shock.
Although Ipanema is a mixed-species product, durability and consistency concerns can be alleviated by purchasing single-species container quantities. Ipanema processes the species by adding in stain and treatment. Although many of the species used are far less prevalent in the US, they’re used regularly throughout the Amazon basin, where rainfall and flooding have tested their durability. In addition to spreading out timber sources across species, Ipanema is able to dodge the rainy season, providing a more steady stream of lumber. The result of such careful sourcing is a current cost savings of up to 40%, when compared to Ipe. Of course, as Ipe prices continue to climb and CITES continues to clamp down on regulations, the savings will rise, as well.
While J. Gibson McIlvain continues to research and experiment with Ipanema Decking, our customers can rest assured that we’re still committed to the same quality standards we’ve always upheld.
Call us today at 800-638-9100 to discuss Ipanema Decking for your next project.
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.
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