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.

 

 

 

Eco-friendly Decking the Real Deal

Posted August 19th, 2009 by ipemadeira

Eco-friendly, green, recycled, renewable, environmentally friendly, sustainable, bio-degradable and energy efficient are all key words used more and more often these days. This is a positive movement that has grown internationally and is well marketed. We all want to contribute to saving the planet and doing our part to keep our earth clean and free of chemicals and pollutants. There are now many organizations that are set up to help us do just that. Let’s take a look at what this means and how a wood deck such as Ipe can be eco-friendly.

First what is eco-friendly mean? If we don’t google it, I would say it means friendly to our environment, no chemicals no harmful out-gassing and uses only raw materials. The wikipedia definition states it is product that inflicts little or no harm to the environment. This is a very grey area. Now lets apply this to decking. There are several products available; pressure treated, composite and hardwood decks.

Composite decking is the least environmentally friendly product. Let me state that this product is marketed as green but let’s examine a few things first. The decking is man made from plastic or composite that has been recycled. Testing performed on the recycled plastic (High Density Polyethylene ) has confirmed that the recycling process loses some of its original tensile strength and the recycled product does not readily biodegrade in the landfills. The fact that this plastic is made of petroleum also escapes the corporations that tote its environmental benefits. Petroleum is costly and sometimes environmentally damaging. The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill is one example of the damages transportation of petroleum has caused. Now going back to the loss of tensile strength, how does that affect the life of the deck once installed in an external environment? What happens when plastic is exposed to heat over a long period of time? Again google one of the composite company names to expose warping, staining, flaking, molding, fungus and other complaints and lawsuits. If you are replacing your deck in less than 10 years time is it really environmentally friendly or if you have to apply chemicals to it to prevent mold and fungus? Do a little homework and you will realize wood is the only eco-friendly decking resource.

Wood is a renewable, recyclable and totally biodegradable product. This product is a primary producer in that it only requires its natural habitat to develop and grow. The sun, water and soil along with the seed produced from another tree is all required to make this raw product. Wood uses less energy to process than steel, concrete, plastic and aluminum. It is used for insulation and has low thermal diffusivity (measure of how quickly a material can absorb heat from its surroundings). The only downside is wood made of certain species of wood will not be as dense and strong as others and would require some type of treatment to be useable outdoors. The new technology now available has opened doors to allow other wood to be available that has otherwise been un-accessible.

Pressure treated decking has been the most commonly used lumber. Thislumber is in-expensive, readily accessible and easy to install. The chemicals used to treat lumber, has helped its resistance to insects, decay and mold/fungus. The only problem is the chemicals used to pressure treat the lumber has been chromated copper arsenate, a toxic chemical used until about 2003 and now other chemicals are used such as copper azone but no current information has been supplied as to whether it is any less hazardous also CCA is still being used in certain industrial and marine applications.

Ipe decking is made from a hardwood with origins in South America, Central America and parts of the Caribbean. This hardwood is one of the strongest densest woods available. The janka hardness for Ipe is 3680 compared to the California redwood at 420. The fire spread is rated the same as concrete and steel. Naturally resistant to mold, fungus, decay and insects, Ipe requires no chemicals. The lifetime of the wood without a UV inhibitor is 40 plus years and with the inhibitor over 100 years. Ipe has a slip co-efficiency above the requirement for commercial applications for restaurants and hotels. This is the deck you will get to enjoy without all the maintenance. FSC certified Ipe is also available for the most discriminating clients and projects. The Forest Stewardship Council will certify that your lumber comes from a responsibly managed forest. Now that is as eco-friendly as it gets.

The Ipe Clip Hidden Deck Fasteners

Posted August 10th, 2009 by ipemadeira

The hidden deck fasteners have become the hottest thing to hit the decking market. This product gives a seamless and custom look to any deck. The Ipe Clip brand fastener is the one I recommend for several reasons. They offer several models in 3 colors for wood and composite decking and a quick and easy installation process plus they have 3 times the strength of competing fasteners. This product is made in the USA and has many dealers through out the US and internationally.

The standard is recommended for air-dried wood and composite made with fiberglass-reinforced materials that is up up to three times the strength of the other fasteners. This model as well as the others is available in brown, black and grey to match any of your decking needs. The fasteners work great with decking grooved with a biscuit jointer since the size allows for plenty of tolerance within the cut. The installation steps are quite simplistic. Secure the first deck board to the joist with a 90 degree vertical screw, can install an Ipe Plug if this is an Ipe deck. Place an Ipe Clip fastener into the board groove above the joist, than run a screw at 45 degrees (for hardwoods) or 90 degrees for composite decking. Slide the next deck board over the exposed half of the previously installed fastener. That is it and the process is the same for all models.

The Extreme Ipe Clip brand fasteners are recommended for air dried wood and composite wood as well but include a premium grade stainless steel reinforced insert molded inside the fastener for increased holding power. This makes it nearly unbreakable and provides maximum holding strength in extreme hot and cold climates. This model is recommended for stronger hardwoods such as Ipe, Cumaru, Tigerwood, etc.

The Extreme KD hidden deck fasteners are made out of a pliable material with a hollow leg that compresses as kiln-dried material expands on its width, this model also contains the stainless steel insert. The soft body allows for expansion of the deck boards, while the rigid stainless steel insert maintains maximum holding power to keep the boards held firmly to the joist. This model is suitable for kiln-dried wood and many composite materials. If you are not certain what model to choose from than this is the one for you as it has all the properties available for strength, durability and longevity. The website http://www.ipeclip.com has easy to follow instructions and detailed information as well as contact information for your purchasing needs.

If you are building a new deck, you want it to look nice without screw holes all over the top of the deck plus it won’t snag your feet.

Ipe Decks No Chemicals Required

Posted July 30th, 2009 by ipemadeira
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ipe decking is not for everyone. That being said, it is for most people who are serious about a great product for durability, longevity and the multitude of properties Ipe possesses. It is a gorgeous rich brown tone with natural variations in shading and striking once installed. Nothing beats natural wood in aesthetics. If you are looking to spend the least amount of monies, looking to replace your deck in less than 5 years and don’t mind mold and fungus or chemical out gassing than there are different products to fit your needs. Let’s look at the different options.

Pressure treated wood is the main wood decking material used in the past. One reason is for the cost, two for the availability and three for ease of install. That was acceptable for the last few decades but now with new technology and new sources there are more acceptable materials for the outdoor application. This material is good for a few years but may splinter, crack and breakdown in a few years.

Composite decking is an alternative material that is well marketed. This fairly new material is heavily marketed as green as they use recycled content in the decking board but the only problem is the tests done on them reveal the recycled plastic is more susceptible to warping and breaking down. Thus creating a very unfriendly product as the lifetime of the product is cut way down and will end up being replaced over a short period of time. Some common complaints with this material are warping, staining, breaking down or flaking and mold/fungus growth. This product is man made with very little history of performance but a lot of great marketing.

Let’s review Ipe decking materials. This hardwood also named ironwood for obvious reasons, has a janka hardness over 3600 compared to the California Redwood at 420. Naturally insect resistant, mold/fungus resistant and rot resistant this wood needs no chemical treatment. The only treatment you may need is the UV inhibitor to prolong the life of your deck over 100 years and to enhance and maintain the warm brown tones. Slip resistant and dense, this hardwood is used in commercial applications such as the Boardwalk in Miami for good reason. Ipe decking can be used in any design from contemporary to traditional. You won’t be disappointed with the look of this material it will complement the most custom homes and enhance any project.

Decking Made Easy with Ipe

Posted July 16th, 2009 by ipemadeira
 

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If you are reading this article, than you may be looking for a new deck. If this is the case, than you must be bombarded with the different choices that are available for decking material. There are three major competitors; treated lumber, composites and hardwood lumber. They all have their pro’s and con’s. When weighing out the differences you will see why the choice is easy. Ipe decking has superior qualities that make it easy for you.

Treated lumber is probably the cheapest choice. The problem is it is treated with chemicals that are harmful for the environment and most importantly for you and your family. The longevity of the treated woods is about 10-15 years with annual maintenance and may be less in the harshest environments. Splintering and rot are some complaints in as little as 2-3 years. This lumber will be relatively easy to install but will require sealing and regular maintenance.

Composite lumber is somewhat mid of the line and can be very high priced depending on manufacturer and color selection. This material is a combination of plastic composites and wood fibers. This product is heavily marketed as the big corporations are spending their money on pushing that composite decking requires no sealer and will last forever. These are false statements. Composite decking has a history of problems with staining and color fading. The wood fibers that are mixed in the plastic has an environment for mold and fungus growth and some decking products have warped with the heat exposure. De-lamination has been reported in as little as 9 months after installation. Warranty will only cover the materials thus creating more labor with removal and re-installation. As for maintenance, the warranty is not valid with out regular maintenance of the decking. Sealing the deck with a preservative would be the way to insure a resistance to fungus and mold.

Now let’s examine Ipe decking. Ipe wood is 3x’s as hard as oak 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 application due to its strength and natural beauty. Those who have environmental concerns about deforestation can rest assured that there are governmental and private organizations that monitor forests specifically for practices and procedures. The forests in Brazil where Ipe is predominantly exported from has government implemented regulations that utilize selective harvesting and responsible forestry practices with severe penalties for forest owners that do not comply. FSC certified forests are now growing at a rapid rate and requires annual audits and compliance for responsible forestry. These types of systems in place will ensure that the forests stay in place rather than get burnt down for cattle gazing and agricultural cash cropping. This also ensures that jobs remain in place for the people that need them with the natural resources that they rely on. The life expectancy of Ipe decking is average 50 years with up to 100 years with maintenance. Pricing for this deck is more than treated lumber but when faced with having to replace and re-install in as little as 10 years, this hardwood is less expensive over time.

The choice is easy when comparing the information and when you look at the difference. Decking should be installed and than enjoyed for the lifetime of the home. Put something in you know will last, has no chemicals and you can enjoy without all the maintenance requirements.

 

 

 

Ipe Flooring vs. Red Oak Flooring

Posted July 16th, 2009 by ipemadeira

Rough measurement of a material’s propensity to burn rapidly and spread flames. Red Oak has a class III rating vs. Ipe at class I, the same as concrete and steel. This is an excellent safety feature for commercial applications.

Ipe Flooring vs. Red Oak Flooring

Red Oak flooring has revolutionized the hardwood flooring industry in the 80’s but with new technology and demands, we have discovered a stronger, more durable and beautiful hardwood that lends a more sophisticated look. Ipe also known as Brazilian Walnut offers all those qualities and when comparing the Janka Hardness and fire rating coupled with the warm natural beauty of the wood you will begin to understand why Ipe flooring is the wood floor for the future.

What is Janka hardness? The Wikipedia definition states: The Janka hardness test measures the hardness of wood. It involves measuring the force required to embed a 11.28 millimeter (0.444 inch) steel ball into wood to half its diameter. This method was chosen so that the result would leave an indention 100 square millimeters in size. It is one of the best measures of the ability of a wood species to withstand denting and wear. Red Oak has a rating of 1290 compared to Ipe at 3640. In essence Ipe flooring is 3x’s stronger than Red Oak.

What is the fire spread rating? Business dictionary states it is:

Red Oak tends toward a medium color and wide variation in grain where Ipe is a tighter grain dark color. Red Oak has a more traditional look where Ipe can fit both traditional and contemporary settings. The physical attributes are quite visible but the behind the scenes properties give you a good idea on the longevity and durability of these woods. Red Oak did serve a great purpose for the 80’s but with the technological advances and more responsible forest harvesting available, Ipe floors are quickly becoming the hottest product for your wood flooring selection.

Got Ipe?

Posted July 16th, 2009 by ipemadeira
 

 

 

ipe_deck_8816What comes to mind when you think of building or remodeling your outdoor living space? Most of us would like to build a nice deck with a grill and have some seating area for entertaining, maybe some music and a TV for some football games. Now the next step is the budget and how much you want and can spend in that area. After that is the research. What materials to use and labor to get it done.

Whether you are a DIY person or looking to pay someone else to do it you only want to do it once, especially if you are doing it yourself. With this in mind, most of us will visit a big box store and maybe some specialty stores to get an idea on what to use and costs involved. Some of us will also go online and leaf through some magazines along with quizzing our friends and neighbors about their decks and what their thoughts are. This is the smart thing to do. Gathering information and learn what you need to know to get the most for your time and money.

Most of us with some expendable money want something with as little maintenance as possible, long lasting so they don’t have to replace in 7-12 years, beautiful to look at and affordable. If you have kids or plan to spend a good amount of time out may also want to consider if there are any harmful chemicals to treat the deck and mold or fungus complaints along with any recalls for injuries etc.

Now take all the above information and research Ipe, Cumaru and Tigerwood decking. Ipe decking has been increasing in popularity recently due to many consumers researching the qualities of this specie of wood. 8x’s harder than the California Redwood and a life expectancy of 100+ years will surely last for your children’s children to enjoy. No preservatives are added as the density and makeup of the wood is naturally resistant to rot and decay as well as pest infestation. A rich warm beautiful tone with a slip resistance that surpasses the minimum required for wet areas based on Americans with Disability Act requirements for static coefficiency of friction.

For the environmentally conscious please note that the forests in Brazil are now strictly regulated by IBAMA and now a good amount of the forests are also FSC certified forests. This keeps the forests truly renewable through selective harvesting and retaining forest value rather than them being burnt down for cattle grazing or agricultural cash cropping. FSC certified Ipe is available with any reputable lumber company.

Now the growing composite decking market is another option but please research what composite decking is made of? Petroleum? Lignins? (causes fading) Many composite companies throw a large amount of money into marketing that they use recycled materials but the research conducted on those plastics raise questions on the strength of it. The only truly recyclable decking is wood. Please research the mold and fungus issues/complaints that are posted online along with sagging, bending, delaminating and warping common with most plastic products in as little as 7 months. There are many companies with recalls and injury claims. The lifetime of those types of decks are also questionable as many are plastic composites and over time in outdoor environments will react in different ways especially in extreme heat and humidity. Some research on the class action suits and complaints will have you treading lightly.

Many of us don’t want to make the mistakes of others and the investment up front isn’t much more than other competitive decking. So for you out there who are ready to take the plunge and create your outdoor oasis, do your do diligence. You work hard so maximize your dollars.

Ipe & What to Look For

Posted July 16th, 2009 by ipemadeira

 

 

Ipe and What to Look For

Ipe also known as Brazilian Walnut (botanical name Tabebuia Spp.) is commonly sold as decking, flooring and furniture. It is a beautiful and exotic hardwood with a Janka Hardness of 3600 compared to California Redwood at 420. This gives you an idea of how hard this wood is and why the lifespan of this wood is up to 100 years compared to the relatively short lifespan of its competitors. When looking for Ipe you want to consider several factors: the wood, the supplier and the accessories.

The Ipe wood is very durable and strong as noted above. It is also chemical/additive free. Not only that, Ipe is insect and rot resistant as well as mold and fungus resistant. This super wood is 100% natural and totally biodegradable with no chemical aftermath. When purchasing this wood you want to buy first grade clear material as natural and rustic grade will have some knots and color variation .

The supplier is just as important as the grade of the hardwood. You want to purchase from a reputable supplier that has an established relationship with the mills and can control the quality that gets shipped as Ipe comes from South America, Central America and the Caribbean. You want to be comfortable with the company. Call the sales department, ask questions and request a sample. A reputable supplier inspects the material as well as the mills. If the supplier doesn’t do that there may be a chance you will get something you don’t want. Check out the websites and gather information. This is a big investment and you want to get it right the first time.

The accessories can also be very important. Ipe can be milled for handrail systems, post caps, even plugs for your decking. You want to use a reputable mill and one that is experienced with Ipe as this hardwood requires special machinery for milling. These types of products will create a nice seamless flow from your deck to your front door. Don’t forget the UV Plus finish and Wood& Deck Cleaner for the maintenance of your decking.

 

 

Ipe the Natural Choice

Posted July 16th, 2009 by ipemadeira

 

 

Ipe-Decking—The-Natural-Choice

Ipe (aka Brazilian walnut, Amapa, Cortez) decking known also as ironwood has gained popularity as consumers have become more educated. Not only is Ipe a natural rich looking product but it is an extremely dense hardwood. It is 3x’s as hard as oak with a Class A fire resistance (same rating as concrete and steel). Ipe wood is resistant to mold and fungus. Don’t worry about pesticides as Ipe is rot and insect resistant as well.

Ipe decks are installed all over the world by the most discriminating consumers not only for its aesthetic value but the maintenance free care. High end homes are specifically looking to install ipe decking because it is the gem of hardwoods in all aspects from the deep rich tones to the tight dense grains to the natural beauty only nature can produce. High end clients are familiar with this knowledge, as it has been tested time and again that we can not reproduce what nature has created nor should we continue to try.

Composite decks have tried to reproduce the look and the quality but it still looks like plastic wood with all the downfalls that come with composite products, molding issues, delamination and staining to name a few. There are other woods that are used for decking but the fact remains that the wood for longevity and strength to use for outdoor applications should be ipe. This conclusion is based on research and time. The fact that ipe decking has been specified in projects such as the South Beach boardwalk in Miami Beach, Las Vegas Resort Hotel and the Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco alone lends creditability to its longevity.

The Brazilian hardwood color can vary from a yellowish brown to reddish brown in medium tones to almost black shade and slowly patinas to a silver-ish grey tone unless maintained with ipe deck sealer. Ipe decking comes in different width ranging from ¾”to 1.5″average with length from 6-20′ average. Special order sizes are available along with accessories such as handrail system, post caps and plugs.

When considering the longevity of your decking and replacement costs not to mention the down time involved, many consumers realize the value of Ipe. It is the natural choice.