When it comes to long-lasting, attractive lumber species that can be used to create a low-maintenance deck or dock, there are plenty of lumber species from which to choose. Whether your outdoor flooring will be put to use in a commercial or residential setting, the most luxurious options come from tropical hardwoods. While other options certainly exist, there are many downsides to composite decking (see here and here) and more than enough evidence in favor of real wood.
The Truth About Real Lumber
In contrast to composite products — which typically last maybe two to three decades before spending much longer in landfills — a deck made from tropical hardwood boasts exceptional durability and colorfastness. Some favorite species include Cumaru, Ipe, Jatoba, Massaranduba, Tigerwood and Teak. While some people are still convinced that the logging industry is responsible for the dwindling rainforests, awareness of sustainability is working to educate people about how truly “green” tropical hardwoods are.
When it comes to longevity, Ipe has been the clear species-of-choice; however, with decreased availability, the current and looming shortage has propelled us to seek out and increase our stock of comparable species. Both Cumaru and Jatoba are growing in popularity, and for good reason. No matter the species, we try our best to purchase lumber from only those mills with which we’ve built relationships, mills from which we can trust both the quality and legality of the lumber we buy. We typically purchase FSC lumber whenever possible.
The Top Three Species
While we purchase Teak primarily with the boat-building industry in mind, we’re increasingly able to provide high-quality Teak (which isn’t quite a perfect match for our boat-building customers) for use by builders in decks and docks, at increasingly reasonable timeframes and prices. As one of the most prolific importers of Teak in the United States, we have discovered that the demand for Teak in high-end decks and interior applications is definitely on the rise.
Still the top-rated decking lumber species, Ipe has an amazing level of stability and resilience to rot and decay. Its class A fire rating puts it in the same category as cement, and its lifespan of more than 40 years make Ipe ideal for those who desire a low-maintenance deck. The reddish brown luster can be kept alive indefinitely with infrequent treatments with timber oils.
While less stable than Ipe, Cumaru is certainly a viable alternative. As long as it is dried properly in a kiln and a 5/4 thickness is used, its stability won’t cause any problems, and its density and hardness provide similar density and hardness to that of Ipe. The color variations of Cumaru are a nice perk, as well, with yellow or brown variations available. On the down side, the kiln-drying necessary for optimal stability increases the lead time we need in order to fulfill a Cumaru order. With its lower cost and Ipe-rivaling quality, though, we definitely believe Cumaru is an excellent choice for a top-notch deck.
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.