As we discussed in our last post, decking lumber is not a finished product. Sure, it gets to you in a ready-for-installation form, already S4S, E4E, and possibly grooved to allow for a hidden fastener system. But that doesn’t mean it’s pretty. Not yet, anyway. Since the long, tumultuous journey of your decking boards began after milling, not before, the boards will bear the marks of their travels.
How Do We Get It?
When your decking lumber gets to the J Gibson McIlvain lumber yard, it has undergone no primping. Once we get it, it typically sits for months, awaiting its time to be pulled for your order. During that waiting period, it can continue to accumulate added dirt and grime. Sure, we could clean the boards while they wait for you to place your order. We could also sand them before we ship them out. But we don’t. If we did, it would be effort wasted, since more dirt would inevitably accumulate as the lumber waits in our yard and then gets shipped to your job site — and then, again, as it awaits installation at your job site.
What Happens to It at Your Job Site?
Maybe you’re not familiar with the previous stopping points that your decking boards make, but you know what job sites are like. You’ll stack and re-stack decking boards in the dirt before those boards get installed. Even if they just sit around in the same place, awaiting installation, they’ll end up with added mud and staining while they wait. Add some rain into the mix, and even if your lumber is covered with a tarp, it will go through the same condensation scenario as it did in the shipping container. Even the installation process can mean muddy footprints grinding added dirt into the wood fibers. If we had cleaned your decking boards at our lumber yard, they’d definitely need more TLC by the time they’re finally installed. Besides that, the added cost of labor would only drive your prices up, and we really try not to do that to you, if we can help it.
What Do You Need To Do?
Especially in areas surrounding knots where grain changes directions, you’ll notice tear out. You may also notice rough spots, which present themselves as harder, raised areas where growth rings have been. Particularly hard species such as Cumaru and Ipe can make rough spots even more significant. Sure, we could have evened out these boards for you with a drum sander at our mill, but that would have caused a reduction in the thickness of all our boards. Instead, it’s more efficient to sand your decking boards after installation with either a random orbital sander or a hand-held belt sander. Not only will you knock down raised sections, but you’ll also reduce the thicknesses of some boards in a way that isn’t noticeable when looking at the entire deck.
Read the Series
• Guide to Decking Lumber: Where It All Begins
• Guide to Decking Lumber: When It Gets to Us
• Guide to Decking Lumber: What It Needs at the Jobsite
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods.
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums.
Contact a sales representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling toll free (800) 638-9100.
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