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.

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

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.