Decks Built to Last

Posted December 18th, 2009 by ipemadeira
 

 

 

Decking is one of the most popular home improvements in the U.S. Many homes will at some point have a deck and this will increase the value of the home at time of sales. This type of home improvement adds living space and value. Many of us like to have a getaway. Somewhere to relax, take the edge off and maybe cool down. The outdoors is a great place to do just that and there are many ways to utilize a deck. Outdoor kitchens are growing popular, gardening exotic and otherwise, fire pits with seating, even around the pool area for sunbathing. Anyone investing in a deck will want one built to last and this requires an extensive examination of what deck boards to use.

Let’s look at what is involved. Once a design and space has been allotted you will want to examine types of materials available which will include availability, pricing, longevity, timeframe, strength, aesthetics, durability and maintenance. You also want to buy from a reputable distributor preferably an established company. If you are not installing yourself than you will need to find a reputable and insured installer. Check with your local county on required permits and any restrictions.

The many products available for decking can be broken down to basically three. Pressure treated pine decking, composite or PVC decking and exotic hardwood decking. If you have begun researching, you have come up with an extensive amount of information base for all the above. Let’s take a look at them individually.

Pressure treated deck boards will be the least expensive with easiest install. This wood is chemically treated for longevity and resistance to insects and mold. The longevity of this wood will greatly depend on the location as it will weather better in temperate weather. Splitting, splintering and deterioration can begin in as early as 2 years but with proper sealing can be 5-10 years. Regular sealing and cleaning is required.

Composite deck boards will be mid to high priced depending on company, color and size. This deck board can not be used for frame support. Heavily marketed, this product has become one of the fastest growing deck materials in the U.S. The many different companies that manufacture this product will have different colors and composition mixes. Problems associated can range from very hot surface to touch in hot climates, mold and fungus growth, flaking and deterioration in under one year time, staining and warping, warranty does not cover labor. It is difficult to gauge the actual lifetime as the products are relatively new in the market and some have been redesigned several times due to failure. The main selling points for this product, is no maintenance and consistency in color. Companies are now stating you must keep surfaces clean and some require sealing. There are now sealers specifically for composite decks. One company warranty that I found specifically stated you should clean and dry deck with clean cloth.

Exotic hardwood deck boards will be priced mid to high depending on the species and size. This group of hardwoods can include ipe, tigerwood, garapa, and cumaru to name a few. The positive aspects of this group are naturally resistant to insects, mold, mildew and rot, strength of ipe is over 3600 on janka rating 5x’s strength of California redwood, completely biodegradable and renewable, and lifespan can be up to 40 years without sealer (specifically Ipe decking). FSC certified material is now available for LEED points and for discriminating clients who want a paper trail to the responsibly harvested forest their wood came from. Purchasing from a reputable importer is paramount. This also insures responsible forest purchases.

Build a Green Deck Use Ipe

Posted December 18th, 2009 by ipemadeira

 

What does “build green” mean? It is different for many people. There is no specific standardized term but I feel it embodies several different things. For one, is the product renewable? Does it come from a biodegradable or recyclable source? How much energy is needed to make the product and transport it to its final destination? What happens to it once it is worn out or broken? After reviewing those specific questions I have come to the conclusion that if you’re looking for a sustainable wood product for your home, the tropical hardwood Ipe is the best material for your outdoor decking and indoor flooring needs.

First this hardwood is renewable. There are many managed forests available and the number of forests obtaining the prestigious FSC certification is growing rapidly. The USGBC uses only FSC certified wood for their LEED program due to the stringent requirements to become certified as a forest and as a manufacturer and distributor. The Lacey Act is put in place by the Department of Interior, Commerce & Agriculture to ensure that only legal wood and confirmed suppliers are allowed entrance into the US. Logging may not sound desirable but compared to drilling oil or mixing toxic byproducts for man made decking, it is a much more attractive source. Forests are no longer allowed to clear cut their trees and have stricter rules for maintaining constant flow of fruit bearing trees.

Second, Ipe is a totally biodegradable product. It can be recycled and used for other sources or broken down completely back to the earth. This species of wood requires no treatments or chemicals as it is naturally rot, mold, fungus and insect resistant. Other artificial products are not so environmentally friendly. Both PVC decking and composite decks will eventually be transported to a landfill where it will contribute to the problem of ever-growing landfills. Many composite decks boast that they are made of recycled plastics but what they don’t tell you is that the decking will have ¼ the lifespan if that of Ipe. This coupled with the fact that most composite decks cannot be recycled because the wood fibers and plastics cannot be separated.

Third, the amount of energy needed to make the product and transport it is substantially less for natural wood than any man made product. If you consider the fact that wood does not require fossil fuel extraction and consumption then it’s easy to see why the difference is substantial. Fossil fuels, as we all know, have only increased in production and environmental costs over time. Contaminants in the air, water and land due to fossil fuel consumption will only increase with demand.

It seems we are always looking for new and alternative resources for improving what nature has provided for but it always comes down to the fact that we can’t improve on it. Natural wood flooring has been and will always be the best material for its purpose. There is no duplicating it and it is truly as green as it gets. If we all participate in buying from suppliers who use responsible forests than we contribute to a sustainable environment and reduce the use of fossil fuels that we have become so dependent on.

 

Deforestation -What is the Main Culprit

Posted December 18th, 2009 by ipemadeira

 

 Tropical forests cover only 7-13% of the earth’s land surface according to a Greenpeace case study written in 2008. The Amazon is the world’s largest tropical forest and deforestation is a concern for its inhabitants and the rest of the world. The misconception lies in what the majority of uninformed individuals view as the leading cause for this devastation. Illegal logging is commonly cited as the reason for this debilitating issue. Research shows that clearing land for soy farming and cattle grazing actually accounts for more than 80-90 % of deforestation.

 

A quote from Dr. Pat Moore, founding member of Greenpeace, “If you want to save tropical rainforests, boycott tropical fruit and vegetables, and buy tropical woods instead, because than people will grow trees instead.” He suggests we put a value on the trees by purchasing products made from them thus creating a need to care for the forest. The good news is with the new systems in place like the Lacey Act developed by the Department of Agriculture, illegal logs will not enter the US. Sustainable forests will grow and we can make trees a valuable commodity so that land can be set aside for their growth not cleared for the above mentioned farming and cattle grazing.

 

Brazil has become a major if not the biggest exporter of beef which results in cattle grazing and clearing of precious forest space. Soy bean demand has increased at an alarming rate as well which accounts for the agricultural cash cropping and devastation of rich soil and minerals. We choose to become indignant about the destruction of our forests but if we really want to look at the source we can blame the demand we all put on beef, soybeans, tropical fruits and tropical vegetables. China and Russia alone have a huge demand for cattle that is increasing at an alarming rate which Brazil attempts to fill. The cattle industry has a lot more sophisticated resources to keep this out of the media but the numbers don’t lie.

 

So the next time you look at a wood deck or floor made from tropical lumber remember that it can actually be helping to keep the forest intact otherwise the land would be slowly being used for other money making resources. Tropical hardwoods have gotten a bad rap but with the education and help of everyone, it can actually be harvested and sustained for future use for us and the indigenous people it supports.

Cedar Decking, Pine Decking or Ipe Decking & Why?

Posted August 6th, 2009 by ipemadeira
 

 

 

 

 

 

Decking is one of the most popular home improvements a homeowner will make. This undertaking requires several decisions on the part of the homemaker. These decisions include how much room is available, how much decking to make, what decking materials to use and of course how much money to invest. The deck boards are a very important part of the decision making process with many choices available. In the past the choice had predominately been pressure treated pine but now with new technology the choices are abundant. Let’s take a look at several wood decks and the reasons for and against them.

Pine decking has been a popular choice for many reasons. Readily available, this wood is pressure treated to ensure insect control and resistance to decay. Earth friendly properties of this wood include the fact it produces less energy and air/water pollution than other building materials. Pine is four times stronger than plastic and is fairly easy to install with no special tools required. Southern pine decking is comfortable under foot when the sun is out compared to the blistering temperature of many composite or artificial decks. The drawbacks of course are the chemical outgas and replacement of this deck is usually 10-15 years if annually maintained.

Cedar decking has gained popularity due to its density and rich warm tones. This decking requires no chemical treatment for insect resistance. The price is about twice that of pressure treated lumber and also widely used. This deck requires stainless steel screws but no predrilling. Lifetime is about 9-20 years with regular maintenance, must purchase clear grade. The wood properties are equally earth friendly as the pine decks. You can span more board in cedar than you can in a composite deck board due to strength. The downfall is it may still be too soft for outdoor application and the clear grade is very pricey to purchase.

Ipe decking has a growing demand mainly due to it’s strength, it has a janka hardness of 3680 compared to Cedar at 350. This gives you an idea of just how hard this exotic hardwood is. Ipe also known as Ironwood is originally from South America, Central America and parts of the Caribbean. This hardwood has been used in many commercial applications such as the boardwalk in Miami for its resiliency and longevity. Naturally resistant to insects, mold, fungus and decay, Ipe also has a fire spread rating same as concrete. Lifetime of this material is over 40 years with no treatment. If you apply a UV inhibitor to this deck you can get over 100 year life expectancy. This deck will require very little maintenance and you and your future generations can actually enjoy more time entertaining and relaxing and less time maintaining your deck area. This wood product provides all the same benefits as above plus more. The cost is also more than pressure treated lumber and this board does have to be predrilled due to the density of the board but the longevity will more than make up for the initial labor as you will not have to remove and reinstall a new deck in 10 -15 years.