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.

 

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.

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 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
 

ipe_galBIG8

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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 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.

 

 

 

Ipe No Replacement Needed

Posted July 16th, 2009 by ipemadeira
 

ipe_deck_0713

 

 

Ipe No Replacement Needed

Ipe (aka Ironwood and Brazilian Walnut) is a one time purchase. This hardwood whether purchased for flooring, decking or furniture will never need replacing. The classic beauty of Ipe is timeless. Nature has a way of capturing colors and textures unlike anything we can duplicate. This particular species has a warm tone with shades ranging from a yellowish olive to deep brownish red. Tight grained with fine linear movement, Ipe is a strong, dense and heavy hardwood.

Originating from Central and South America as well as the Caribbean,Ipe is prized for its strength and used in commercial applications as well as marine environments. Piers, docks and boardwalks are ideal locations for this hardwood as well as decks and interior flooring. The Ipe species has been become popular just the last 20 years as technology advancements have allowed this dense wood to be milled cost effectively. The strength of Ipe has deterred wood companies in the past from mass production but now this hardwood is being specified in commercial projects where outdoor exposure is a problem and indoors where heavy traffic is an issue. The reason for this is that those companies know that they will be replacing the material in 5-10 years if they don’t select the right material the first time. The other products may be a little less expensive but the labor to remove and re-install the new products will end up costing a lot more and is a headache for both the owner and the people utilizing the environment.

Residential homes also realize the perks in using this superior hardwood. The colors and grain of this wood complements both traditional and contemporary designs. Clients with pets and/or children appreciate the durability needed for their lifestyle. In a society where we want the best of both worlds, Ipe gives us the biggest bang for the buck. We get a natural beautiful hardwood we desire with the longevity and strength we need. We get a wood that is resistant to fungus, mold, insects and rot thus no chemicals are needed. Ipe flooring and decking are available in various widths and lengths and can come with the FSC certification from certified companies. This gives clients the seal of approval that the wood they are purchasing comes from a forest that is responsibly managed.

There are many fine points to the title that no replacement is needed. The main point is that Ipe hardwood is the strongest hardwood for the outdoors and the heavy traffic indoor environment especially is you do not want to replace your deck. The other points just support the reasons you want to use Ipe. The natural resistance to insects and rot will assure you that Ipe is not treated. Mold and fungus are not an issue as Ipe is also resistant to them. The natural beauty and warmth of real wood can not be replicated.