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.

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.

Ipe the Proven Leader in Decking

Posted September 24th, 2009 by ipemadeira
 

 

 

 

 

 

Many people have never heard of ipe decking let alone have any idea why they would want to look at it. This hardwood is very recently being used more by residential users as commercial applications have been utilized for years. Little was known as milling was difficult and transport expensive. Now with technological advancement in equipment and more transportation venues the costs are competitive with the composite industry and sometimes less. Decking is an investment and does increase the value of your home. For that reason alone you want to find out why Ipe is the proven leader for all your outdoor decking needs. Now let find out a little more about what it is.

Ipe is an exotic hardwood originating mainly from South America but also from Central America and Caribbean. This decking is so dense that no chemicals are needed to repel insects and it also is mold and fungus resistant. The janka hardness is over 3600 compared to California redwood at 420, 8 times the strength. Ipe has the same fire rating as concrete and steel for flame spread. Naturally slip resistant, this deck has a life span of over 40 years without UV inhibitor. With UV inhibitor, the life span of Ipe is over 100 years so no need to replace in your lifetime and your kids can enjoy it through their adult years as well.

There are questions in reference to the environment and concerns over the future of the forests. There are companies such as Advantage Trim & Lumber that only purchase from reputable companies that practice responsible forestry. FSC certified lumber is also available for the more discriminating clients, architects and designers. This allows you to have a paper trail from the actual forest where it was cut to the final destination from where you purchased. Responsible forestry includes cutting down only older trees that no longer bear fruit and replacing with two or more young trees that have the space and time to grow. Selective areas are chosen and land is retained for forestry rather than burnt down for agricultural cash cropping or cattle grazing. This is what will help us save our future forests and prevent the land being used for other sources.

Now let’s take a quick look at the competitive products. Pressured treated decking has been the most popular and least expensive but in the long run has to be replaced in as little as 5-10 years depending on how often it is sealed and the out gassing of chemicals is a detriment to your health and environment. Composite decking has a terrible history of warping, molding, staining, flaking, and de-laminating. Warranties have not been honored in the past and now are being written with verbiage to exclude labor to reinstall. Lawsuits are mounting and new products are yet to be tested.

I hope this has answered your basic questions about why Ipe is a proven deck leader. This product was chosen on such commercial applications as Miami boardwalk and Atlantic City Boardwalk for good reason. Do it once and do it right the first time as the saying goes. No one wants to pay to rip out and re-install a deck but rather enjoy their time with family and friends on their new outdoor oasis.

 

FSC Changing the Lumber Industry

Posted September 10th, 2009 by ipemadeira

 

The Forest Stewardship Council is the only certification system that can obtain the certified wood credit for the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED projects. In 2013, green commercial and industrial new construction projects will jump to 25% and 20% for green residential new construction from 2% in 2005.

There are 10 principles of forest management that FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) utilizes as its threshold of what they constitute as responsible forestry worldwide. We will take a look at them as stated on their website http:www.fsc.org.com

    1. Compliance with laws – Abide by all laws and treaties.

 

    1. Tenure use rights and responsibilities – long term land tenure and use rights that are clearly defined and uncontested.

 

    1. Indigenous peoples’ rights-respect and recognize human rights especially of the indigenous people.

 

    1. Community relations and workers’ rights- Increase well being of forest laborers and local communities including respect of worker’s rights.

 

    1. Benefits from the forest- share in the use and benefits of the forest.

 

    1. Environmental Impact- reduces the impact of logging and maintain integrity of forest and its functions.

 

    1. Management plan- continuous management and improvements as updated.

 

    1. Monitoring and assessment- of forest to evaluate the condition of the forest, management activities and the impacts both environmentally and socially.

 

    1. Maintenance of high conservation value forests- of critical and great significant importance to the preservation of those forests.

 

    1. Plantations- must help reduce pressures on restoration and conservation of natural forests in addition to promoting their well being.

 

In addition to the above principles there are 56 criteria that must also be met and this is subject to continuous evaluation and improvement. It is this rigorous process that has helped green building projects directly reward forest companies for managing their forests to such high standards. When we utilize this type of purchase on our projects we are investing in the future of our forests and a more responsible way of living.

 

Ipe & FSC the Perfect Match

Posted September 10th, 2009 by ipemadeira

The Forest Stewardship Council was founded in 1993 due to concerns over global deforestation.FSC is a certification system that provides internationally recognized standard-setting, trademark assurance and accreditation services to companies, organizations, and communities interested in responsible forestry. How FSC does this is by putting value behind the product. Marketing the improved social and environmental standards in those select forests through certification, labeling and international recognition, FSC is able to promote responsible forest practices and give consumers something to be pride to purchase. FSC is recognized as the most credible organization in forest management.
The requirements for certification with this prestigious organization is stringent. Your organization must be committed financially as well as make the required changes to affected areas and apply processes to comply with the FSC requirements. Some of those involve setting aside warehouse space and thoroughly labeling the areas that the FSC certified lumber will be housed in, especially if non FSC material will be in close proximity. The paperwork involved in buying and selling FSC lumber must also be accounted for separately as annual audits are performed. The initial audit consists of being well organized in all requirements or be re-audited at your expense.
Ipe is one of the many species that you can purchase with the prestigious FSC certification. Ipe decking and Ipe hardwood flooring are commonly used for many commercial and residential applications, coveted for its strength and natural beauty. This hardwood is originally from South America, Central America and parts of the Caribbean. The janka hardness for this super wood is 3680 compared with the California Redwood at 420. This gives you an idea of the density and strength Ipe has. Naturally resistant to insects, mold, fungus and decay, Ipe has a life expectancy of 40 plus years with no treatment. If you had a UV Inhibitor you can add 60 plus additional years to that estimate. Fire rating for this species is a class A same as concrete and steel. This hardwood is a truly renewable resource.
Ipe with the FSC certification is as good as it gets. You have the strongest wood available with a stamp for responsible forest management and LEEDs points are available for interior designers as well as architects. Advantage Trim & Lumber is an established distributor of this decking and can custom mill to your specifications. Discriminating clients and commercial projects that require a green product will fall in love with this hardwood. What is spent on this wood will more than make up for itself in time with cost of removing and replacing inferior products. Who wants to waste the time and energy doing that?

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.