As we continue to evaluate North American market norms when it comes to lumber size, we’re again looking at the issue of thickness — this time, particularly, as it relates to plus-sized decking. While it measures about 2 mm thicker than standard ¾” thickness, plus-sized decking actually starts out at 5/4 thickness. So it begs the question: is there really a need for this in-between size? And if not, who does it benefit? In our estimation, there is no need for it, and simply put, it benefits the mill: after all, that saw dust you’re still paying for doesn’t take up space in the shipping container. While useless, the waste that results from the planing adds up to extra profit for the mill.
Considering Plus-Sized Ipe
As we all know, Ipe is the best of the best, when it comes to tropical hardwood decking lumber. With its high degree of stability and rot resistance, Ipe in ¾” thickness is more than sufficient for any environment. The cost of adding 2 mm to that thickness seems to us an unnecessary expense, especially considering that you’ll typically pay the same price for 5/4 Ipe. While that may be a case of “overbuilding,” it may be helpful in an environment with particularly volatile weather conditions and moisture level swings.
Considering Plus-Sized Cumaru
Far less stable than Ipe, Cumaru is still an exceptional decking lumber species. However, due to its lack of stability, J. Gibson McIlvain Lumber won’t carry Cumaru in thicknesses less than 5/4. Even millimeters can make a difference with this species, when it comes to avoiding warping and buckling. The way we see it, the slight possible savings just isn’t worth the risk; for that reason, we don’t recommend plus-sized Cumaru.
Matching Thicknesses of Plus-Sized Decking
It’s far more difficult to source plus-sized decking lumber than it is to order it in standard sizes. For that reason, we’ve had customers experience difficulty in sourcing small quantities to finish or add onto an existing deck where plus-sized decking lumber was used. Of course, you could always buy 5/4 decking and have it re-sawn to a plus-sized thickness, but again you’ll run into that pesky issue of paying more for less lumber, and we really don’t want you to have to do that.
Evaluating Waste of Plus-Sized Decking
In addition to the unnecessary cost and in-between size of plus-sized decking, a huge downside to this thickness option is the waste involved. While popular tropical hardwood decking lumber species such as Ipe and Cumaru aren’t endangered or requiring protection from CITES, both are in high demand, making the concept of wasting them seem unwise. After all, wouldn’t you prefer to see that lumber you’re paying for anyway put to use on your deck, rather than taking the form of saw dust? Yeah, we thought so. So would we.
Continue reading with Part 6.