If you’re looking for the best of the best, when it comes to premium hardwood decking, the clear choice is Ipe. Of course, like most high-end materials, you can expect a price tag that matches its quality. The already high price of Ipe is sometimes increased due to supply-and-demand issues connected to the harvesting timeline of South American mills. This can make affording Ipe very difficult for some customers.
One way to save amid the high-priced Ipe market is to buy odd lengths of boards. As we explore the reasons that odd lengths of Ipe can save you money, you’ll notice that saving money isn’t the only benefit: Using odd-length boards means less waste as well, so it’s environmentally friendly, too.
The US Industry and Short Boards
While the European lumber industry regularly uses 6- or 7-foot boards, the US industry tends to see an 8-foot board as the smallest possible cut of wood. For US-milled species, only those boards 8 feet and longer are even offered. But when we’re looking at imported species like Ipe, many so-called “shorts” have already been produced.
A certain number of those shorts are included in containers purchased by wholesale lumber buyers like J. Gibson McIlvain. The number of shorts we receive without ordering them varies depending on the species and source.
Sometimes we can sell these by-products at 10-30% less than market norms, so it’s in your best interests to consider buying shorts for your smaller Ipe applications. In fact, we’ll thank you for taking it off our hands!
Odd-Length Boards for Ipe Decking
ecause of the supply-and-demand issues surrounding Ipe, sawmills can be more choosy regarding how they sell this preferred species. In fact, some sawmills even refuse to sell to those lumber suppliers who desire only even-length decking.
Even those sawmills who will sell to lumber wholesalers who only want the even lengths of Ipe tend to raise their prices to accommodate the lumber wholesalers’ refusal of odd-length boards. Other sawmills make up for wholesalers’ refusal of odd-length boards by limiting the volume available for those who refuse shorts or odd lengths.
Instead of limiting our potential sources to those willing to sell only even lengths like many US importers still do, J. Gibson McIlvain simply accepts the short boards. This represents a significant break with tradition in favor of our customers’ and the environment’s best interests.
Odd Lengths and Waste
Basically, when US importers insist on even lengths, the mill is forced to cut off an extra foot so they can ship the board as even. You’re still paying for that board foot, though, in addition to the labor involved in the extra trimming, making a 12-foot board potentially more expensive than the 13-foot board from which it was cut!
And what’s more, the extra foot of quality lumber is wasted in the process. So consider buying odd-length boards. If you do, instead of a run-of-the-mill 12-foot deck, you could have a less common 13-foot deck that costs even less- and produces much less waste, too!
At J. Gibson McIlvain, we’ve refused to sacrifice quality for price for over two centuries, and we’re not going to start now. However, when we have an opportunity to give our customers the same high-quality lumber at a lower price, we’re always excited to make that happen. For more information on McIlvain Company and why we’ve been an industry leader for over 200 years, click here to visit the McIlvain website. And for insider information and lumber project tips, check out these selections from the McIlvain Lumber Blog: