As you’ve learned the facts about color matching lumber and the many variables that impact color, perhaps you’re thinking that maybe you should completely abandon the idea of having a color-matched deck. But then there’s that lingering memory of the perfect deck you saw pictured in a marketing brochure or on a website somewhere. If someone else can have one, why can’t you?
While a perfect match truly isn’t possible with an organic product like wood, you can at least approximate the look you’re after by finding a great lumber supplier, exercising patience and hard work, and intentionally purchasing a little overage.
Finding a Great Lumber Supplier
A good dealer will possess knowledge about each pack of lumber and its origination point, allowing regional variations to be reduced. They’ll also help you understand how color is and isn’t impacted by grade. With tropical decking lumber, it’s all pretty much top grade anyway; the other stuff doesn’t get exported to begin with.
Perhaps some suppliers would help you try to find close to color-matched lumber, but you’d likely pay a pretty penny for all the extra effort it would take them. Instead, a good lumber dealer will probably recommend that you include some overage in your order and plan to exercise patience and a little elbow grease.
Exercising Patience and Hard Work
When you realize that decking lumber is not a finished product, you’ll be more equipped to spend the time and effort needed in order to achieve the look you’re after.
Simply setting it out in the sun for a few weeks will go a long way toward allowing the color variations to even out. Cleaning off the mud and lightly sanding the surface will also improve the appearance. You’ll probably also be surprised how applying a little deck oil will help unify the color of your deck boards.
When you find a board whose color appears unusually different than the others, you can check out the other side; alternately, you can give the mismatched face a little more of a sun tan. If it’s still more distinctive than you prefer, you can set it aside and use a different board.
Intentionally Purchasing Overage
A good rule of thumb regarding overage is to purchase 20% more than you (think you) need. For larger projects, you may need to purchase even more overage in order to allow for relative color matching. You may be willing to use unusually colored boards in the corners or other less noticeable places, or you might find some boards that will help bridge the gap. Maybe you’ll save them for another job. But whatever you decide to do, you won’t regret having the extra to work with, allowing you to pick and choose.
At the end of the day, wood is never going to be plastic. It won’t match perfectly. Each board will be its own unique exhibition of natural beauty — and we think that’s a good thing.