Archive for the ‘Wood 101’ Category

Tigerwood Dock

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Do it right the first time. Building a dock, which will be exposed to water and weather on a regular basis, requires careful planning of the construction and material choices to use. Docks are naturally difficult to construct because of the water surrounding them and pilings to which they  attach. This is why building a dock right the first time is so important. If you choose the best materials the first time around, then you can rest easy knowing it will outlast inferior materials. You will avoid costly and incessant repairs year after year. If you invest more on your dock the first time around, but it lasts twice as long and you do not spend your spring and summer every year on nagging repair work, then you are much better off. Time is money; free time is invaluable!  Save yourself the headache and do it right the first time. In addition to  the benefit of enjoying longer-lasting materials,, these materials also are much more beautiful.. Tigerwood is just such a superior choice for this application. Tigerwood’s density makes it an ideal choice material for marine applications. It will outlast softwoods, even pressure treated, by leaps and bounds. You can see from the pictures below how much more beautiful it is than a lower quality pine or pressure treated deck. Aside from its beauty, you will enjoy Tigerwoods integrity as it will outlast inferior materials two fold. It also provides a safer walking surface for tender feet as a result of its tight grain and resistance to warping and splintering.

Majestic Tigerwood Deck on Texas Lake copy

tigerwood dock

What is Ipe?

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

What is Ipe? Ipe, pronounced EEE-PAY, is an extremely dense hardwood from South America. It’s use is growing in popularity rapidly across the United States. Some refer to it as Brazilian Walnut. It is most commonly used for Ipe Decking and Ipe Hardwood Flooring. Ipe furniture is also a high quality product produced from this wood. The Ipe tree more specifically comes from the Brazilian Rainforest. Fortunately, responsible harvesting and forestry management of this product ensures a lasting and reliable supply to the United States. Ipe is now farmed commercially in many parts of South America. Ipe wood is very long lasting and highly resistant to mold, mildew, rot, bugs, scratches, dents and marks. It is low maintenance compared to inferior decking and flooring woods. The grain of the wood is so small and tight that it is ideal for bare feet and provides a safer walking surface than other woods. Consumers choose Ipe over other options because it is a green alternative to synthetics, a renewable resource and outlasts any other species. It has a beautiful rich color, especially when treated with a sealer. The sealer we recommend is Penofin. Penofin is naturally extracted and produced from Brazilian Rosewood Oil. It is environmentally friendly, provides 99% UV protection, is odorless, and has 0 VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds.) Ipe is typically quite expensive in comparison to softwoods; however, it’s extended lifespan lower maintenance cost and time and soundness make Ipe a long-term value and the initial investments pays off in the end. See this blog about Ipe vs Pine to see an example with supporting evidence. Ipe wood is often used on porches, docks, decks, at marinas, as commercial and residential siding, for furniture, pergolas and gazebos. There are other exotic hardwoods growing in popularity with Ipe. Tigerwood, Cumaru, and Garapa are also raising eyebrows. Though Ipe is the most sought-after of the four, the other three retain similar characteristics and uses. More specifics about Ipe ( What is Ipe? ) wood are below.

  • Ipe’s Scientific Name: Handroanthus spp.
  • Ipe Tree Size: 100 ft (30 m) tall, 2-3 ft (.6-1.0 m) trunk diameter
  • Specific Gravity @ 12% MC: .91-1.1
  • Janka Hardness: 3,510 lbs
  • Modulus of Rupture: 25,660 lbf/in2
  • Elastic Modulus: 3,200,000 lbf/in2
  • Crushing Strength: 13,600 lbf/in2
  • Shrinkage: Radial= 5.9%, Tangential= 7.2%, Volumetric= 12.4%

What is Ipe? More about What is Ipe? :

Ipe is 3 times harder than Oak. It has similar appearance and qualities to Teak wood. Ipe is superior in Decking applications and structural applications over Teak. Ipe has a class 1 fire rating which is the same rating that concrete and steel fall under! There are few dealers of Ipe, Tigerwood, Cumaru and Garapa in the United States. Overseas Hardwoods Company is the oldest provider with a long track record of responsible lumber purchasing, has the most inventory on site in many sizes and has the most experienced staff in house. OHC is based out of Mobile Alabama. Ipe and other tropical hardwoods should always be purchased from reputable suppliers like Overseas Hardwoods Company to ensure it has been responsibly harvested. This in turn prevents unlawful harvesting and deforestation and creates a sustainable harvesting operation in Brazil and other parts of South and Central America. Consumers often believe that using composite and plastic decking is safer and greener. This is unfortunate because producing these composite materials is irreversible and detrimental to the environment. See a short article on composite decking vs hardwood decking here. Ipe is natural. Ipe is a renewable recourse. Ipe is safe, long lasting, strong and low maintenance. Ipe wood is a fantastic choice for many types of outdoor projects. Overseas Hardwoods Company strongly recommends the use of Ipe for multiple applications, especially decking. To speak with an experienced hardwoods representative that can answer more of your questions like ” What is Ipe? ” call 877-568-7616 or visit OHC sales team on the web.

Pictures of notable characteristics of Ipe when used as Decking, flooring or furniture:

Picking the Best Wood for Your New Deck

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

It may seem like the dead of winter, but now is exactly the right time to start planning on slapping together a backyard deck. The closer we get to summer, the busier the pros become. Unless you are looking far ahead to 2014, time to get on the stick.

Are you totally comfortable with what you are doing or know a bunch of friends who’ve erected a deck many times before? If not, the extra money to hire an insured and bonded expert is well worth the additional green. We’ve heard of folks that tried DIYing only to end-up paying just as much to repair the foul-ups they built into the unit.

Wood Choices

Our druthers always swing in the direction of ipe. It is one tough lumber. Resistant to water and bugs, Brazilian walnut can take the blows and still come-out swinging. Big plus: Practically no maintenance.

You’ve heard us talk about the Janka Hardness Test before, right? If you haven’t, here’s a quick refresher.

The Janka hardness test measures the resistance of wood and how it withstands denting and wear. It’s a way to see how much force is required to embed an 11.28 mm (0.444 in) steel ball into wood up to half the ball’s diameter.

Take a look at this chart to see what we’re getting at:

Notice what wood is at the bottom of the list – which should make it at the top of yours?

What Should I Pick?

We’re beginning to see the “Invasion of the Composites.” These are materials that are very strong, but wood they ain’t. If you’re one of those people shooting for a high-end deck, perish the thought.

Some of the other timber we like are tigerwood and jatoba. While they’re half as strong as ipe wood, they aren’t going to crumble underfoot anytime soon.

However, nowadays, you’re more likely to find Jatoba or Brazilian Cherry inside the house for wooden flooring. That’s why we keep going back to ipe as the ideal stuff for your outdoor living space.

Finally, ipe has been known to thrive for more than a century. While you may not be around to enjoy its strength, what better gift to leave to your great-great grandkids.

A Final Reminder

Focusing on decking, Ipe is the one that most builders would employ because it lasts virtually forever. Even with the winds from Hurricane Sandy destroying a swatch of the Atlantic City boardwalk, you can bet that the part which used ipe is most likely still hammered in place. If it’s not, don’t blame the wood. Point the finger at the fasteners.

Cumaru is an alternative to ipe. Perhaps the biggest reason people have adopted Brazilian teak (aka cumaru) is because of the cost of the raw material. Generally speaking it’s about a buck-or-two cheaper per square foot than is ipe. However, the largest charge you’ll ever shell-out for the deck is the labor. Wood only accounts for about 25% of the total outlay.

Ipe Decking – Considerations

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Handy-folks who plan to erect a deck in the next few months, we’ve got a suggestion for you. If you have your heart tuned to the ipe (EE-pay) dial, let a professional do the honors. It’s not that you can’t do it yourself. Not to say using this hardwood is like cutting diamonds or replacing a vital human organ. But there are some matters that need to be taken into consideration when using this super-hard exotic lumber.

You’re absolutely correct to set your sites on ipe. Once we projected that it actually may be hard enough to use in the construction of a rocket ship. We just want to make sure you know what you’re getting into before making the new outdoor space on your own.

The Surface and Below

The wood, at first feel, seems kinda tough – rough and raised. Even when you get the wood from the mill, it’s quartersawn. What dos that mean? Here are the three types of cuts so you can see for yourself:

Most decking materials are quartersawn because it’s more aesthetically pleasing and totally stable. To smoothen the surface of the ipe, you’ll become good buddies with your sander. This is not a SNAFU. It’s the way it’s supposed to be.

What the Warp?

Ipe is not dried in a kiln. It’s dealt with by using air. That puts it in the range of about 15% moisture. You want that. It’s going to be soaking in the environments and this level keeps it stable. Be prepared to let it sit in your backyard for up-to a month before construction. By doing that it will get used to the climate. That should eliminate any weirdness down the line. Let it breathe-in the air to sow its wild oats before you ball-and-chain it to make a deck.

After it’s erected, slap it down with a coat-or-two of wax-based coating. That will further stabilize the wood.

You’re Going to Use a Cordless Drill?

Good luck. Ipe is some of the hardest lumber known to humankind. You’ll need a unit that’s not some wimpy 12 volt job. Same holds true for the saws. Unless you have a tool shed that would bring tears to Bob Villa’s eyes, you’re either going to need to spend some serious dough to buy new tools or strike a deal with a place that rents heavy-duty machinery. Don’t forget to double-triple-or-quadruple on the bits and blades. You will destroy a lot of peripherals.

And get ready to pre-drill everything. Driving in a fat bolt will end up splitting the hardwood unless you give it start. This ain’t no pressure-treated lumber.

Those are just a couple of things to think about before making a deck with ipe a DIY project. If you’re a pro, go. If you’re not, that’s a big no.

The Symbols at the Bottom of the Page – What is IWPA

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

There are people who trust others with their words. Still, more discriminating folks place their convictions in deeds. While we don’t know who was first to coin, “A man is only as good as his word,” we understand that phrase as more than some throw-away bromide.

Another way to say it is “You shall judge of a man by his foes as well as by his friends.” We know who penned that. It was the great American writer Joseph Conrad from his remarkable novel “Lord Jim.”

Those Little Symbols

One of the icons you’ll catch at the bottom of our website is that which belongs to the International Wood Products Association, AKA the IWPA. We’re proud to be dues-paying members of this and some of our other partners in the lumber biz. IWPA’s goal is to lead the way in the education and leadership for business, environmental and public affairs when it comes to timber.

The IWPA set-up shop in ’56. Since then they pride themselves as a top international trade association with a focus on North American imports in the wood products industry. We like them because of their badge of sustainability. Over 200 companies share that trust with the IWPA – whether it’s in the products composed of hardwood or softwood – floating to our shores from everywhere on the planet.

There’s a trio of processes that make-up the association: U.S. importers and consuming industries, offshore manufacturers and the service providers that facilitate trade.

So, What Does That Mean to Me?

We’ll let the organization explain how their oversight benefits the consumer:

“Conservation, Utilization, Reforestation, Education (CURE): The CURE Program is an environmental education and outreach program that works successfully to protect both the tropical forests and the international tropical timber trade.

“The CURE Program is one of IWPA’s premier activities and produces IWPA’s flagship publication, International Wood. For over a decade, CURE’s number one priority has been to ensure that policy-makers and industry’s customers in the United States understand the very positive role commercial forestry has in helping to preserve the future of the world’s forests.”

That means when you see the IWPA graphic at the bottom of our website page, we’re not just talking the talk. We’re walking the walk to protect our environment.

Do They Perform Any Other Stuff?

You betcha. Mind if we traipse back to their Internet presence to give you some additional big pictures? Place the following in quotes, if you will.

  • IWPA serves the needs of the entire industry by developing programs and providing services that will increase public acceptance and greater use of imported wood products in the U.S. marketplace.
  • Protect Your Ability to Conduct Business: Understanding that a core part of IWPA’s mission is to keep the U.S. market open for imported wood products, IWPA has greatly expanded our legislative and regulatory advocacy. IWPA’s registered lobbyists and volunteer leaders meet frequently with members of the House and Senate and regulatory officials to make sure they are aware of industry’s top priority issues and concerns. IWPA is your staff in DC fighting for your business.
  • Inform your Business Decisions: IWPA’s eNews and trade statistics updates keep you in tune with a dynamic business environment. IWPA standards inform the marketplace. IWPA’s media outreach efforts inform the buying public with stories placed in all major trade publications, the Wall Street Journal, Associated Press stories, and an interview on National Public Radio. Expect to see even more outreach in 2012.

The business of providing you with quality wood changes from day-to-day. With our membership in organizations like the International Wood Products Association, you can be assured we are, to quote another wise guy, “Our word is our bond” to you as a customer.

The Symbols at the Bottom of the Page – What is NHLA?

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Cave-dwellers in some foreign country haven’t the foggiest idea what the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval means. Same goes for the Underwriters Lab stamp. It’s not that they’re dumb; they’re just more interested in surviving.

Here in the States, in most cases, we’ve got the endurance part down. One way we keep ourselves on the cutting edge are trade associations. The truly good organizations create standards, rules to live by, education, political advocacy and information.

In the timber world, one such assembly is known as The National Hardwood Lumber Association. You see their symbol at the bottom of our webpage. Why? We believe in what they do and ascribe to their principles.

So, What is The National Hardwood Lumber Association?

It’s something that’s been around for more than a century. The founders wanted to set forth standards based initially on the inspection of hardwood lumber and grading rules for the measurement of said stuff.

But since 1898, the NHLA has branched-out into an Association that helps train the industry so that it can succeed in a global economy, which changes about every 9-seconds.

Dealing with Washington, D.C.

Politicians can always use a schmear of help when it comes to an issue. That’s where the NHLA makes a mark by looking after the hardwood industry. As a customer, it’s important to you. Ever gotten ripped-off by inferior junk from Crapganistan? NHLA is the buyer and seller’s voice. They ensure you don’t waste your time putting together some long-term project only to find-out later that the hardwood you used would be better for a nice bonfire than a deck.

Keeping the Hardwood Supplier Up-to-Date

In an information-rich world, your lumber supplier doesn’t want to spend half of the day on the toilet reading endless articles about hardwood. NHLA keeps the knowledge they need down to a manageable quantity. Sending out hardwood specific newsletters and emails, a monthly magazine and a perpetually updated website, your supplier is kept in the know (and not on the throne, flipping through a stack of reading materials).

A Teachable Moment

Since the NHLA knows its stuff vis-à-vis North American hardwood lumber grading rules, they offer classes to pass on their wealth of know-how. Here’s how they put it, “From the Inspector Training School where a career in the hardwood industry takes root to technical short courses to on-site company training by an NHLA National Inspector; NHLA has the experience to further your knowledge and your career. As such, NHLA strives to offer programs to meet the needs of all sectors of the hardwood industry at all career stages. NHLA currently offers an introductory class, Hardwoods 101 as well as a Leadership, Management and Development Program, perfect for up and coming young managers.”

Now you know about one of the symbols at the bottom of the page on our Internet site. For us, it’s a badge of honor. For you, it’s an assurance of quality.

Installing Hardwood Flooring – Part 1

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Get ready to hop on a train to the “Land of the Two-Parter.” We want to make sure that everything is done right. No step-skipping here. That’s why there’s a part 1 (this piece) and a part 2 (the next article). Make sense? Then let’s slip it into first gear: Installing a hardwood floor. Incidentally, it’s a hell of a lot easier than laying carpet or puzzling together tiles.

Welcome Home

After you pick-up the wood, welcome it home. And if you choose the delivery route, forget about rainy days. Wait until its clear-and-dry for a few. Once it’s in your flat, allow it to acclimate to your indoor environment for about a week. The stuff needs to set inside at a temperature of around 70°. Do not allow it to rest on concrete. If you must, elevate it at least 5-inches above the material.

Whatcha Need

Collect these tools to do the job:

  • Table Saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Hammer
  • Drill and bits
  • Nail Gun
  • Jamb Saw
  • Flooring nailer
  • Mallet
  • Tape Measure
  • Pry Bar
  • Broom
  • Chalk line
  • Regular nails
  • Barbed flooring nails
  • Transition Strips

Along with those tools and supplies, here’s what else you need to have on-hand:

Starting Line

Sweep-up the bare surface where you plan to install the hardwood.

Time now to take on the first row of planks. Pencil some marks along the low-portion of the floor that will tell you where the floor joists are. Roll-out the roofing felt. To make the foundation strong, lay the felt in a perpendicular pattern to the marked joists.

Beginning at the longest length, likewise perpendicular to the aforementioned joists, measure the width of a floorboard, adding ¾ of an inch. Mark it and hammer some nails into the roofing felt. Pull the material flush to the unwooded floor. You’re now set to begin setting the wood on the edges.

Tool Time

Not wanting to split any of the sweet hardwood, pre-drill some holes. You’re drilling should be about an inch from the grooved edges. You want to spread-out the holes so they attach to the joists. You’ll do this on the first and last rows of flooring. These pieces will require you to nail ‘em through the face of said hardwood planks. Everything else is attached through the tongue.

Set the first board with the tongue pointed toward the middle of the room. Place a ¾ inch spacer against the opposite wall. Slip a plank against that opening. Drill a few more holes and tap-in some flooring nails to keep matters in place. Make sure you countersink every nail.

Stick the next plank to match-up with the layout line. Kiss the end groove with the tongue, pressing the pair of boards together for a tight fit. Drill and nail down the plank from wall-to-wall. The last one you’ll need to slice just to make it fit. Just ensure sure you leave a ¾ inch gap for expansion before you hammer it into place.

That’s it for Part 1. In the next edition, well get into things like racking, adding the rows, using the flooring nailer and the finishing touches. See you in just a few.