As the boating season comes to an end, you’re probably ready to do any needed repairs on your existing dock and plan for any additions for next year. Did you know that a great cost-saving change you can make is to replace your existing dock boards with Ipe or another tropical decking lumber species? After all, docks are essentially decks, only different in that they’re positioned over water instead of over land.
While Ipe is our best-selling tropical hardwood decking option at J. Gibson McIlvain, Cumaru, Teak, and Jatoba are also excellent options for docks. Ipe, in particular, has become such an effective solution for docks that many Brazilian sawmills produce Ipe boards already cut to 4 or 5-foot lengths, making them ideal for dock installation.
Tropical Decking Can Handle Abuse
Think about all that your dock goes through. Not only does it endure direct sunlight and wind, with no protection, but it also has to put up with constant exposure to water from above and below. Then, of course, there’s inevitably exposure to fish and other critters. The rot-resistant, insect-resistant properties of Ipe and other tropical decking species are ideal for putting up with that kind of use and abuse that a dock takes. And it comes out looking no worse for the wear.
Tropical Decking Sizes Determine Price
Not only can tropical decking save you money because it will outlast most other lumber possibilities, but it’s also an ideal upgrade option because of how the pricing works. Short Ipe used for docks, usually between 4 and 5 feet long, ends up costing much less per linear foot than typical decking boards, which range from 8 to 22 feet long. Shorter tropical decking boards are typically by-products of longer boards. Sometimes they’re essentially A grade boards, but because of their size, they are considered B grade.
Tropical Decking Provides an Ideal Dock Surface
An added benefit of tropical decking is that you can leave it alone and still achieve a safe, non-slip surface. Sometimes grooves are milled into dock boards in order to promote water shedding; however, this extra step is only necessary in inclined areas or on steps, especially if you choose a species such as Ipe, which isn’t oily or slick, even when wet, allowing you to provide a smooth surface that’s comfortable even for those walking on your dock in their bare feet. (J. Gibson McIlvain carries both grooved and smooth Ipe decking boards cut especially for docks. We can also mill a grooved texture to all or part of your order in house, if you prefer.)
Tropical Decking Is a Worthwhile Investment
Over the long haul, tropical decking will prove to be an investment that will be worthwhile. But it does come with an upfront cost. The hard thing is estimating that cost, because there are so many variables. Lumber pricing is far from an exact science, anyway, but tropical decking species such as Ipe can be particularly changeable. Even still, short Ipe boards can be up to $1.50 less expensive per linear foot.
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.
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.