Cedar Decking: Is It Right for You?

Posted June 21st, 2012 by Decking Materials

Because it is a domestic species, cedar is more readily available than the more durable exotic woods, which in turn leads to a lower cost. ?When trying to decide between cedar and exotic decking, it all comes down to the trade off of price and durability.

Pros of Cedar Decking

Compared with more durable options, cedar decking is cheap, around 33% less expensive than Ipe. ?You still get the natural beauty of real wood, and cedar is very easy to work with.

Cons of Cedar Decking

The lifespan of a cedar deck is about 20 years with regular upkeep and maintenance. ?That’s only half of Ipe’s minimum lifespan. ?Overall, cedar is simply a weaker, less durable wood.

Conclusion

Everything comes down to your personal situation. ?Your budget may not allow for an expensive exotic deck, but before you make a final decision, consider the long term costs. ?You can expect to replace a cedar deck after 20 years, which will double the cost of your deck and make it more expensive than Ipe in the long run.

Do you have anything to add? ?Let us know how cedar decking has worked for you.

Wood Decking- What Composite & PVC Companies Don’t Want You to Know

Posted March 16th, 2010 by ipemadeira

The decking industry has grown exponentially over the last two decades. There are many companies that have come and gone over that time. Many people are familiar with the terms composite decking and PVC decking. The idea of such a product has merit. No maintenance, durable, consistent, warranted and several colors to choose from, sounds too good to be true. The green movement has prompted many people to look for an eco-friendly deck to help the environment. What’s not to like? Let’s take a look at the facts.

Composite decking is made of wood particles mainly sawdust and resin (some recycled). The idea is simple enough but what happens when you take plastic (which by the way comes from petroleum) and mix it with saw dust? The lawsuits and complaints found all say the same things. Warping, discoloration, de-lamination, injuries, molding, fungus, blistering, rotting and splintering are just a few of the problems that have been reported. Warranties have not been honored, businesses have gone bankrupt trying to resolve issues and lawsuits and customers have been left to figure it out on their own. What I don’t get is how any company that makes composite decking can state it is a green product. The resin even when recycled is made of plastic, a petroleum product and one of the two top carbon emitting products produced. Recycled resin has been tested and is not as resilient and durable as the original plastic composition. The lifetime of the deck must be considered and also where does the deck go at the end of its lifetime?

Polyvinyl chloride commonly referred to as PVC is a manufactured plastic with toxic byproducts. Dioxin (potent carcinogen), ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride are made in the production of PVC and causes health problems. Some of the problems are neurological damage, birth defects, impaired child development, endocrine disruption, endometriosis, immune system damage, reproductive damage and cancer. This is the material used in PVC decking. In 1998 there were attempts to recycle this product that were considered a failure by the Association of Post Consumer Plastics Recyclers. The dioxin in PVC is a persistent toxin that does not break down rapidly and migrates in the air via wind and in the water transporting itself in the fatty tissues of sea life. It has been discovered in dangerous concentrations in the tissues of whales, polar bears, fish and Inuit mother’s breast milk. The lethal additives such as lead, cadmium and organotins used in PVC used to keep it from breaking down is known to cause cancer, lead poisoning and asthma. Does this sound like the type of product you want your children, pets, environment and yourself exposed to?

Now let’s take a look at natural wood decking. Yes the original materials used to make homes and structures from the beginning of time. A hardwood such as ipe will have a lifetime of 40 years without any treatment and over 100 years with one application of UV inhibitor. Ipe is a tropical wood that has grown in popularity for its beauty, density, resistance to mold and insects and longevity. This hardwood is used in commercial projects such as the Miami Beach Boardwalk for good reason. The Lacey Act, GFTN (Global Forest & Trade Network), IBAMA and other organizations have helped to keep illegal logs from coming into the country. You can now get FSC certified decking for LEED projects or for your own peace of mind. Rest assured this product will break completely down without harming the environment, is completely recyclable and sustainable. What we have been looking for has been around all along. What’s not to like?

Hardwood Timber for Decks, Patios & Porches

Posted February 5th, 2010 by ipemadeira
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Why is timber the choice for many people when they consider decks, patios and porches? Timber has been a much needed resource for our ancestors for thousands of years. Trees provided wood to make fire for heat making winters bearable and for foods that would otherwise be hard to eat. Timber also was used for building homes. This natural resource is biodegradable, recyclable, energy efficient, durable, salvageable and beautiful. Timber uses less energy to process than steel, concrete, plastic and aluminum.

What timber is most recommended for durability and longevity? The tropical hardwood Ipe from South America is known for its? strength, durability, beauty and resistance to insects, rot and mold/fungus. This hardwood has a Janka rating of over 3600. Ipe wood is 8 x?s harder than the California redwood with a fire rating class A same as concrete and steel and slip resistance rated above the coefficient of friction for commercial applications. The hardwood is so dense it is resistant to mold and fungus. No worries about chemicals, Ipe is also insect and rot resistant. Ipe has been used in several commercial applications due to its strength and natural beauty.

Ipe has a life expectancy of 40 plus years with no maintenance and is highly recommended for marinas, docks and piers. Slip resistant and dense, this hardwood is used in commercial applications such as the Boardwalk in Miami and numerous hotels and restaurants for good reason. This timber has just recently become popular as previously it was hard to cut and get to. Now with new technology and better transportation methods it has become economically available and with new government regulations and private organizations such as FSC, it is being responsibly harvested. This makes a big difference especially just in the last 10 years.

When you take in to consideration the longevity, aesthetics, durability and strength of the various deck boards on the market, you will agree that Ipe has the best qualities for the money. You get a long lasting, low maintenance, absolutely stunning and environmentally friendly deck. FSC certified deck boards are now available and with the Lacey Act in affect you can rest assured that the Ipe being supplied to the US is coming from responsibly harvested forests. Timber is and has always been the material of choice for decks, patios and porches for many reasons. The natural beauty of timber and the feel of wood under your feet are just two reasons for the popularity. You can have your cake and eat it too with an Ipe hardwood deck.

Deck Boards What to Look For

Posted February 2nd, 2010 by ipemadeira
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Most of us at some point in our lives will invest in a deck or outdoor area. There are so many different types of deck boards available that it can become overwhelming. This is an important part of the?purchasing ?process for several reasons. The boards you select will determine how long the deck will last, whether you will have to treat the deck for insects, mold or fungus, if it will need to be built away from direct sun exposure, the aesthetics and strength of the deck. Let?s examine the different materials and what to look for.

The most common deck board is the pressure treated wood boards. This is also the least expensive but the lifespan for this material is only 5-10 years depending upon the environment. Pressure treated lumber also emit some nasty outgases of chemicals to living creatures and its surroundings. The likelihood of replacement in 10 years is high so in the long run the cost factor does go up as labor and materials will have to be replaced, creating more work and materials at a future date.

A growing industry is the composite decking and PVC decking industry. The composite decking industry is a fairly new industry and is a mix of plastic and wood dust or wood particles and a type of glue. The problem with this is the durability and strength deteriorates over time and is not great to begin with. That is the reason the joists can not be made of composite. The increase in lawsuits and bankruptcy of different composite companies is a telltale sign of problems to come. PVC decking has similar problems coupled with the fact that it is made from PVC. Polyvinyl chloride commonly referred to as PVC is a manufactured plastic with toxic byproducts. Dioxin (potent carcinogen), ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride are made in the production of PVC and causes health problems. Neurological damage, birth defects, impaired child development, endocrine disruption, endometriosis, immune system damage, reproductive damage and cancer are some of those problems. There is a lot of good information out there on the hazards to you and your environment.

Tropical wood decking is also a growing industry and one that is sustainable. This industry has gotten a lot of bad rap in the last few years for forest destruction but in reality can be an asset to forests as it creates a demand for trees. If you research the actual cause of forest depletion than you will find that cattle grazing and agricultural cash cropping are 90% of the cause. These uses destroy the soil for future tree growth where trees being logged can be replaced and if managed properly can help surrounding trees to grow faster with access to sunlight and room for growth. This recent stir of accountability has increased associations such as FSC, Green Peace and Smartwood to form and grow as well as government agencies to take a stance such as IBAMA in Brazil and our own govt. to utilize processes such as the Lacey Act regulating where the lumber comes from and verifying it is from a managed forest not illegally harvested. Now if you look at species such as Ipe, Cumaru, Tigerwood and Garapa than you will realize you can have the best of both worlds. These species are absolutely beautiful and the density of these deck boards is very high. They are naturally repellant to insects, mold, fungus and rot. No insect repellant sprays are needed and no replacements in your lifetime. This is a no brainer and the alternatives we create are not better nor are they as eco-friendly as supporting your well managed forests.

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Ipe Suppliers Practice Sustainable Forest Management?

Posted January 12th, 2010 by ipemadeira

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We like to believe what we hear and read but to see it is a totally different experience. I recently got the opportunity to go to one of our supplier’s forest and watch them in action. The trip was a short 3 hours on a single engine plane across the northwest area of Brazil with a dirt landing, after that we drove in a pickup truck about 1.5 hours into the forest. We arrived at the camp around 2 pm and the humidity was thick but not terrible. We ate lunch at the camp which consisted of some wonderful authentic beans, rice, potatoe salad, baked chicken, green salad and fresh squeezed lemonade.

Our mission? To?experience first hand the processes involved in obtaining and manufacturing lumber before it arrived to the port to be shipped off to us. I imagined a truck full of labor ready employees with no real organization chopping down the first available tree in site and moving on to the next. This of course was not the case, as the day’s events had to be planned out in advance so that the crew would know where to go and how to get there as well as what specie and tree to extract. I forget this is a forest with many species of trees at various stages of life. There is no real trail to get to some of these trees and careful planning is essential to the actual extraction. This I would learn as I would also learn that you can’t just take your truck or equipment in and out of any given area as many times as you like. The paths that are created in the forest may only be used 4-5 times and than no further as the soil is than difficult to use for reharvesting. The age of the tree is also taken into consideration and the width of the trunk helps to determine whether or not a tree is ready to be cut. We passed an Ipe tree that was still to small to cut and would not be ready anytime in the next 5 years.

We met the crew at the camp jumped into the truck and headed in the direction of their map. After about 30 minutes we parked at a designated area that was marked and posted with their company information as well as the government permit. The?supervisor had a map of the area with the directions to the specific tree we would be extracting. The tag # and the specie along with the surrounding trees for reference.?The 3 members of the crew grabbed their machete and chainsaw and we headed into the thick of the forest.

I had to jog to keep up with the crew as they walked in a fast pace toward their destination. There were other landmarks on the way to our tree that were tagged with numbers but at the pace we were going I only got a glimpse. We arrived about 15-20 minutes later and the crew began to cut into the tree with the machete. The rest of the process seemed rather simple though I know it must not have been. We got to see the tree fall which was an experience. They re-tagged the trunk and tagged the log for removal. Once complete we began the track back to the vehicles and the supervisor documented his work.

On the way back we stopped at the cleared location that the logs were gathered at for removal and got to see the different species tagged and ready for cutting. The supervisor mentioned that only specific trees are tagged for removal and the rest are left with the newly harvested trees . The government monitors their extractions as the majority of the land is?government owned and?there is a fee for the removal of the trees (based on the species) as well as a fee?for leasing the land. Radar is used to from the air to keep tabs on the forests and check for illegal cutting. Contrary to what most people think, the forest is not completely cleared for logging. Only specific trees are removed and only after they get a certain size and age, making room for the newly planted trees and allowing sunlight to reach them.

It was gratifying to?feel I had learned alot more actually getting to see the people at work and getting to talk with the locals. What is nice is that they take pride in their jobs and in their forests. There weren’t people here looking to rape their land for money but people who were conscious about their jobs and worked hard to make sure they were doing their job right. They take pride in their forests and respect it. Their livelihood is there so they don’t want it cleared, not for cattles or anything else for that matter. Supporting sustainable forests will ensure that their children have jobs in the forests they were raised in.

Cedar Decking, Pine Decking or Ipe Decking & Why?

Posted August 6th, 2009 by ipemadeira
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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.