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?

Shiplap Siding with Ipe Tropical Lumber

Posted February 22nd, 2010 by ipemadeira

 

 

 

Shiplap siding has been used for many years as a protection and a decorative addition to the exterior and interior of buildings and homes. Wood siding comes in many types and installing it can be labor intensive so for this reason you want to pick a hardwood with longevity and durability. This will give you ease of mind as you won’t have to replace in 5-10 years and will increase the value of your home besides the obvious aesthetic beauty that is present in a natural wood product.

Ipe is growing in demand as a beautiful and dense hardwood for decks and siding. This tropical lumber has a Janka Hardness rating of 3680 and has 8 times the strength of the California Redwood. Not only does Ipe have a natural resistance to insects, mold and fungus but is also fire rated the same as steel and concrete. How is that for reassurance? Ipe wood has beautiful warm reds and browns with natural variations that allow for a unique and rich statement. This species of wood has a lifespan of over 40 years with no treatments and over 100 years with one application of UV protection. This alone has a price savings over other species that have to be changed in as little as 7-10 years.

When considering the materials you will use for your next project, remember to compare the many variables as well as the lifetime of the product. No one likes to have to replace something they installed 7 years previously. Other factors should be if and how the wood has been treated and if it can stand up to the extreme weather changes that can come our way. Ipe shiplap siding has been used in commercial applications such as the Eco-Park in Houston Texas and in residential applications as well. Many builders and contractors are familiar with this tropical lumber and have used it as a decking material and or siding and can tell you why it is the preferred material by the most discriminating people.

 

Hardwood Timber for Decks, Patios & Porches

Posted February 5th, 2010 by ipemadeira
 

 

 

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
 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Ipe Suppliers Practice Sustainable Forest Management?

Posted January 12th, 2010 by ipemadeira

 

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.

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.

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?

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.