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?

Deck Boards What to Look For

Posted February 2nd, 2010 by ipemadeira
 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

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.

PVC Decking- Poisonous Volatile Compounds

Posted October 5th, 2009 by ipemadeira

 

PVC decking has been growing in popularity as companies are heavily marketing the perks but is it worth the gamble? 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.

PVC was labeled a contaminant in 1998 and efforts to recycle it were declared a failure by the Association of Post Consumer Plastics Recyclers. Did you know that PVC when exposed to fires release toxins long after it ignites and in landfills may be the largest source of dioxin releases in this environment. The dioxin 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.

At what cost are we willing to compromise our lifestyle? Are we willing to expose our children and friends to this material because we want supposedly less maintenance? All decking will require maintenance at some point and compromising your future well being and that of your planet is just not worth it. This material has long lasting damaging effects on human as well as other species not to mention the environment. We scream and yell about the dangers of mold and fungus in our drywalls and about the effects of pollutants in our waters but how about how PVC is taking over the construction of our homes.

Construction materials are 75% of what PVC is produced for, ranging from electrical wire insulation to shades and blinds to vinyl flooring to gutters. The true cost of this product has not been publicized until now. Fortunately, there is a wide range of alternatives that are cost effective and without the toxic effects of PVC.

Decking is made to be enjoyed and add value to your home. Please do not expose your family and outside environment to this toxic alternative. If you are looking for a low maintenance, chemical free and long lasting deck with a fire rating same as concrete than you have found it in Ipe.

Ipe decking has long been used in commercial and residential applications for a beautiful natural and durable deck. FSC certified Ipe is also available for the most discriminating client or LEED points projects and guarantees responsible forest practices. No other product can stand up to Ipe’s strength (janka rating 3680), insect & mold/fungus resistance (no chemicals) and this product is totally renewable, recyclable and bio-degradable! If you are looking for low maintenance, than you have found your answer in this product.

The Hardwood Wrench Deck Straightening Tool Delivers

Posted August 10th, 2009 by ipemadeira

The Hardwood Wrench™ for Your Decking Installation

Are you in the market for a new deck? Looking to install one this summer? Maybe you install decks for a living. If you have ever installed wood decks such as Ipe decking you will want to hear about a new tool out on the market the Hardwood Wrench™. This amazing tool is a self locking deck board straightening assistant while you are installing your deck. Now you don’t need someone to hold the board in place while you install.

This easy one man operation cam locks in place and straightens the deck board. It is easily reversible with no extra tools needed. The quality of this tool is top notch. It adjusts to various sized joist thicknesses. The Hardwood Wrench™ is made of high quality anodized aircraft grade aluminum with hardwood handle for longevity and strength. It is also rather light for the construction but heavy duty enough for your toughest application. Another great feature is that it is made in the USA.

So stop wasting time and labor, get yourself this product. It is new on the market but has a website and is already in high demand. This heavy duty tool is constructed for the professional to be used multiply times. If decking is your specialty than you can not afford to be without it. Anything that speeds up installation, gives you more precision and simplifies is worth looking into.