Did you know that decking lumber is not a finished product? Maybe the word “lumber” clued you in, but you might not know what takes it from the “lumber” to “finished board” state. It’s important to realize that, like all unfinished building products, there are steps required in order to get a decking board ready for installation as well as for long-term use.
Take Another Look
At first glance, you may want to argue that a decking board really is a finished product. After all, it looks like one! A decking board is just that — an already sawn board. It’s not just a log or rough-cut lumber. It’s already planed on all 4 faces (S4S) and has sharp corners eased (E4E). If you’re planning to install the deck using clips, your boards will already have routed grooves along the edges, too. As we all know, though, we can’t always trust things to be as they appear.
A Long and Hard Trip
Most tropical decking lumber is harvested and sawn along the Amazon river. The lumber then begins its journey to the U.S. by weathering months of difficult travel. After being moved via trucks to port cities, the lumber gets loaded into metal shipping containers for overseas travel.
The already-milled boards endure great fluctuations of moisture content as a result of both climate variations and the atmosphere created by the shipping containers during the day. The kiln-like situation endured by day then changes to pooled water from condensation during cold nights. The next day, the pooled water evaporates, creating mineral deposits that take the form of water stains.
In addition, throughout the transportation of the wood, the boards will be repeatedly stacked and unstacked, allowing mud and dirt to be ground into the fibers of the wood. The effects of all this travel can be easily seen and felt; the decking lumber has become far from a ready-to-install finished product.
Lumber Yard to Job Site
After a long and arduous journey to the U.S., the decking lumber sometimes waits at a distribution yard for months before being pulled for your order. What happens during that time? Additional dirt and grime accumulate.
Because additional dirt will also find its way to the boards when the lumber is in its final leg of the journey, en route to your job site, it makes no sense to clean or sand the boards prior to shipment. Once it arrives on site, it will probably be stacked in the dirt, anyway, leading to added staining, dirt, and moisture fluctuation. Even during installation, muddy boot prints can add to the already heavy build-up.
In the end, a lumber supplier who takes the time and effort to clean up the boards – in the middle of the lumber’s journey – will only cost the customer more lead time and added cost.
Now that we’ve examined the problem, we’ll look at the solution: “Creating a Finished Product from Decking Lumber.”
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.