Tropical hardwoods have a unique back story that contributes to some specific needs for care both prior to and after installation. Sometimes people refer to premium hardwood tropical decking species such as Ipe as “maintenance free,” but that’s really a misnomer. When your decking arrives at your job site, it’s not a finished product. In addition, while once it’s installed and finished, it will certainly be a low-maintenance deck that will last for many years — probably decades; but it will still require some maintenance to live up to its full potential. But even before installation, your premium decking lumber will need a few things from you. And that starts with a little time off.
Why Your Decking Needs Time To Rest
We get it: you’ve carefully ordered your decking and paid a pretty penny for it. Maybe you’ve also waited patiently for the right time to purchase your lumber and have your deck installed. As soon as it arrives on the job site, you’re ready to start working with that amazing Ipe decking lumber which you’ve been waiting for! But if you want the installation to go smoothly and the deck to last as long as it should, you need to do something first: you need to wait.
Wood movement is responsible for plenty of problems, and while we can predict it and slow it, we can’t stop it entirely. And when it comes to air-dried lumber for exterior applications such as decking, the swing in moisture levels from the point of origin to the lumber dealer and then to the job site can be quite significant. While Ipe, Cumaru, and other tropical decking species are exceptionally stable, they still require some time to acclimate to their surroundings. Trust us: you want any significant movement to occur before installation, rather than after it.
How To Allow Your Decking To Rest
The recommended acclimation timeframe can range from a few days to a few weeks. For specific advice that relates to your lumber order, ask your supplier. But however long the period is, you’ll want to store decking boards under some kind of cover to protect them from direct exposure to the elements. You’ll also want to stack boards in a way that allows air to flow around each of them. You’ll want to budget in an acclimation timeframe prior to installation.
You’ll also want to plan for wood movement as you plan gaps between boards. The lumber species, board width, and time of year will all factor into how you space the boards. By allowing your boards to rest prior to installation, you can save yourself from some major headaches during the process as well as afterward. The result will be a more stable deck that will last for many years.
After that important acclimation time, there’s another important step you’ll need to plan for. Continue reading with Part 2.