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The Right Flooring for U.S. Military Trailers

Overseas Hardwoods Company has enjoyed decades-long relationships with many businesses and organizations but one of the most enduring and rewarding is our relationship with the United States Military.


Several decades ago the Army came to us looking for trailer flooring. They needed trailer flooring that would perform under the constant loading and unloading, take a beating and continue to the mission, reduce maintenance cost, provide safe working area, be used to carry immense loads, and would be durable enough to last for years.


The Army (and later the Air Force, Navy and Marines) discovered that Overseas Hardwoods Company’s Road Load Tested® (RLT®) was the ideal trailer flooring. RLT uses a patented process along with proprietary techniques to create continuous boards up to 53’ long which eliminates interior board end and increases the overall strength of the floor system. Utilizing full trailer length floors created a more economical way to customize a floor to fit specific cavities of any trailer. Every lineal foot of RLT is machine stress rated to meet Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association's recommended practices for load rating.


We've provided kits to the military, which they installed in their trailer prototypes and then tested extensively at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. After their comprehensive testing showed that RLT was unequaled in strength and durability, the US Armed Forces made the performance of RLT the standard for their trailer flooring for newly manufactuered trailers, repairing and for retrofitting (complete overhaul). Many of the military’s trailers are shipped overseas to command posts where they’ll haul everything-- from tanks, Humvees, trucks, and other heavy equipment, to building products, supplies, and personnel gear.



The United States Military specifies our RLT Apitong decking because of its heavy duty, superior abrasion resistance, and it is a stronger, more durable trailer floor system that reduces maintenance and out of service time while providing a safer work environment for the troops. If a refurbishment is ever necessary, we quickly ship directly overseas, even to remote locations.

OHC is proud to provide High Performance Lumber Products to the men and women in our armed forces. Since 1992, we have maintained inventory and production allocation to meet rapid response time for our Military. We will continue to do our part to keep our military rolling and on the move so they can protect and defend the United States of America.


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Wood for Boats

The earliest boats go back 8,000 years ago, starting with dugout canoes. Those early dugout canoes ignited a desire to harness the power of the water and the wind, and mankind has built on that technology. Egyptians added sails, which paved the way for historical ships such as the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria, which in turn led to today’s luxury yachts, sport fishing boats and runabouts for pleasure cruising.

The structure of wooden boats has evolved over time, however, most of the basic components have only slightly changed. Since the dugout was essentially carved out of a log, advancements were made in creating a hull that mimics the human body with “ribs” and planking (skin).   Finish and trim improvements have drastically improved boat quality and durability as well as aesthetics.

 Let’s take a look at the structure of modern wooden boats.


 The boats’ ribs, named for the obvious way they resemble an animal’s ribs, were crafted from the crotch/splits of trees as they have inherent strength and are one solid piece. Today, these are typically made of strong but lightweight woods such as Juniper, Meranti or Douglas Fir. Plywood is also used to strengthen these rib parts, and help hold together the ribs until planking is put into place. In the past, when using solid lumber, ribs of the boat were steamed in order to bend them to the correct angle required to add maximum strength. The planking is then attached to the ribs.



The planking consists of boards that make up the outside of the boat’s hull. One type of hull planking is carvel, where the boards are fastened edge-to-edge, adding strength and creating a smooth surface. Another type of planking is lapstrake planking, which is when the planks are overlapped. This method is also called "clinker" construction.  You may see this type of planking on a small lake boat. In ancient days, fasteners were relied on to attach the planking during the boat’s construction, but modern waterproof glues are so superior that both carvel and clinker construction rely almost completely on glue for fastening. For many years Meranti (also known as Philippine Mahogany) was used by most wooden boat builders, including renowned boat builders like Rybovich, Chris Craft, Pacemaker, and others. Meranti planking is still used today, as well as Marine Grade Plywood which works in the same manner, but requires a little less time as it is typically ripped into larger pieces.


 Most wooden-hulled boats are finished in fiberglass after planking, which adds strength as well as sealing the hull for water tightness along the seams and joints. In addition, the fiberglass reduces moisture absorption which adds unnecessary weight to a boat. The smooth fiberglass surface also reduces resistance and drag on the watercraft, increasing speed and fuel economy.



 The trim includes all of the interior and exterior wood work: door trim, window trim, decking, floors, cover boards, transom, cabinets, etc. As this greatly influences the aesthetics of the boat, a high-end wood like Teak is typically chosen for these components.


No matter your style, or type boat you desire, almost every boat contains wooden components, from solid ribs, planking, Marine Grade Plywood, finish and trim. Not all wood and/or wood suppliers are the same. Make sure you check for quality, reliability and dependability of the material and the source, in order to ensure that you and your boat get the best. 




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5 Rivers Delta Experience

There’s a spot in Alabama where the Mobile, Spanish, Tensaw, Apalachee and Blakeley rivers converge into the Mobile Bay, fusing freshwater and marine ecosystems. The state of Alabama created a remarkable facility, 5 Rivers, Alabama’s Delta Resource Center, in an effort to preserve the hundreds of plant and animal species and create a recreational paradise for its citizens.


5 Rivers attracts visitors for its wealth of activities in the 250,000+ acres of picturesque waterways, wetlands, and woods. In addition to outdoor activities like kayaking, canoeing, hiking, nature cruising, and birdwatching, the Center is also home to a beautiful theater, convention center, classrooms, exhibit hall and gift shop.


5 Rivers decided to build several new structures to maximize access to nature for its many visitors. They called upon Overseas Hardwoods Company to create beautiful, durable, and cost-effective walkways, piers, nesting platforms, and shelter platforms.


Weather in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta demands a high-performing wood. Summer temperatures can rise above 90 degrees, there’s plenty of precipitation, and the brackish water can be tough on wooden structures. The maintenance crew at 5 Rivers  is all too familiar with continuous repairs and replacement of treated Pine.  Ipe, a Brazilian hardwood species, was chosen for the new platforms, walkways and piers.


Ipe was the obvious choice for the 5 Rivers project. Ipe naturally resists rot and insects, requires little maintenance, and can last for 30 years. Besides these quantifiable advantages, Ipe also has a high aesthetic value, and it was important to enhance, rather than detract from, the natural beauty of the delta.


At first, the Ipe has a beautiful brown tone with amber and red hues, but as it ages, it develops a lovely silver-gray patina. If the original tone is preferred, a UV protectorate can be applied to keep the color.

OHC Ipe is the perfect wood species for the structures at this unique nature center. It’s a smart financial choice for a state-owned property, durable enough to withstand large groups of children on field trips, and beautiful enough to serve as the backdrop for an elegant delta wedding.









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Live OAK Landing



Live Oak Landing

Live Oak Landing, located near Mobile, AL, was purchased from private owners by Baldwin County in 2012 as a means to protect and conserve coastal habitats, and also to provide recreational and educational opportunities. Its verdant 318 acres are home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, from Glossy Ibis to turtles to old-growth Live Oak trees with evocative Spanish Moss, all of which combine to create a beautifully Southern tableau.  

This relatively new county recreational area has already become known as one of the best fishing launches in the county, hosting high-stakes bass fishing tournaments. There’s something for everyone at Live Oak Landing - a nearby pond has even hosted fishing tournaments for disabled children.

The county parks department decided that if Live Oak Landing was to become a premier fishing spot, the boat launches, fishing piers and docks would have to be of the best quality. However, these projects had to make financial sense, as well as being handsome and structurally sound.

With 12 floating docks, 4 launches, and 2 large pavillions, Live Oak Landing is an excellent place for family outings both on and off the water, as well as the perfect place to start a young angler fishing.


Ipe from Overseas Hardwoods Company was determined to be the best species for the project.

Ipe, an exotic Brazilian hardwood, is known for its longevity and aesthetics, and is able to withstand wet conditions while resisting rot, making it a perfect species for docks and piers. Ipe is more expensive than pressure-treated wood, but the lifetime of an Ipe structure is approximately 30 years, compared to the 10 or so years a pressure-treated lumber structure might last.

When considering the longevity and durability of Ipe, it’s easily found to be the most cost-effective choice.

Besides its excellent weathering characteristics, Ipe is a beautiful wood species, with color ranging from a olive or yellowish brown to reddish brown, with a fine texture and a rich natural luster, and can also be allowed to grey to a regal silver patina. At Live Oak Landing, OHC Ipe was used to craft distinguished-looking fishing piers, floating docks, and a lovely boat launch, creating the perfect environment to relax, have fun, and reel in a big one!



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Baton Rouge flood surprise

 When the rain started falling in Baton Rouge on August 11, no one suspected that it would continue for three days and lead to catastrophic flooding. By now, we all know the scale of the flood: six lives lost; 20,000 people rescued; and over $8 billion dollars in damages. Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out all those affected by the wrath of Mother Nature



Silver linings sometimes occur during catastrophic events

While the area was in the earliest stages of recovery, a millwork shop owner began assessing the damage and loss of his work. Because of the heavy rain, he was unable to deliver any completed doors to their work site, so he was forced to keep them in the shop. This meant, unfortunately, that quite a few were submerged in up to three feet of water for several days.  

Once the water receded, he began the emotional and physical hard work of culling his damaged product. He lay the completed Meranti doors out to dry but never thought they might be salvageable. Once they finished drying he discovered something remarkable: the Meranti doors  and shutters hadn’t warped or twisted at all, as compared to doors made of other wood!


Meranti wood is known for its durability and ability to withstand wet conditions, but this level of stress had never been tested on entire doors before.

The Baton Rouge millwork shop owner was able to sand the watermark off his beautiful (and valuable) doors, stain or paint them, and deliver them to their final destination. In the midst of so much destruction of property and loss of income, this one surprising turn of events brings hope and joy to one small business owner in Baton Rouge.

As for the Meranti, does anyone recommend submerging it in water for several days? Certainly not! However, the anecdotal evidence does show that this beautiful, dense, exotic hardwood is even more durable and stable than previously thought.




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The Best Decking for Docks

When building a dock, there are many factors to take into consideration: cost, safety, durability, and longevity. In this article we’ll discuss some differences between pressure treated pine, exotic hardwoods, and composite to help you find the best material for your dock.

Pressure-Treated Pine

The only real advantage to using pressure-treated pine on a dock is cost. It’s by far the least expensive option, but as is often the case, you get what you pay for. With proper care and refinishing every two to three years, the dock might last 10-15 years. Splintering, warping, cracking, and rotting is common with pressure-treated Pine, making it unsafe and likely to cause injury, especially on bare feet or with children.

Exotic Hardwoods

Exotic hardwoods cost more than pressure-treated pine, but that cost is recouped on the dock’s life expectancy. A dock crafted from Ipe, Cumaru, Garapa, or Tigerwood, if properly cared for, can last 25-30 years before structural maintenance is required. Not only will a dock made of these wood species last longer than pressure-treated Pine, but it will also stay smooth with a much lower chance of splintering, rotting, and warping. If insurance is a consideration, Ipe is a good choice, as it can receive up to a Class A fire rating. Ipe_Boat_House.jpg

To keep an exotic hardwood looking exactly as it did when it was installed, an UV-blocking oil must be applied every year, or you can choose to allow the wood to age naturally to a silvery-gray patina. This is a purely aesthetic decision, and the quality of the wood will not degrade if it’s allowed to weather naturally. Tigerwood_Texas_Boat_Dock.jpg


A composite material, made from recycled plastic and wood fiber, is also a good option for a dock. It’s pricier than pressure-treated Pine, but is almost maintenance free, won’t splinter, and doesn’t ever need to be refinished. It can, however, take on mildew stains, especially if it’s not swept and washed regularly. Because it’s so heavy, a composite dock will need more joist support than with wood or it will sag. Composite decking also heats up in the sun and can feel uncomfortably hot on bare feet.

While exotic hardwoods and composite decking have clear advantages over pressure-treated Pine, choosing between those two choices simply comes down to personal preference and budget. Choose an exotic hardwood like Ipe, Cumaru, Garapa, Tigerwood, or composite decking for your dock and it will have a long life expectancy, remain safe, and look beautiful for decades. 

Posted in Marine, Outdoor Living | Leave a comment

gold medal design for Olympic send off

  Cumaru Deck at Jonathan Beach Club


  When Civic Entertainment needed a set for NBC's Olympic Send Off, MadeFirst of Nashville, Tennessee was the company for the job. Owner, Jonathan Hammel's team, renowned for expert quality and craftsmanship, created a design utilizing the appearance of a deck for a stage placed on the beach in Santa Monica, California. When asked what makes MadeFirst different, Hammel responds, "Its our innovation, attention to detail and dedication to our clients that makes us the right partner for creative endeavors".

 In preparation for Rio Olympics 2016, MadeFirst's design helped kick off NBC's first ever Olympic Social Opening Ceremony hosted by Ryan Seacrest in Santa Monica. The custom stage made of Brazilian Cumaru decking provided by Overseas Hardwoods Company was used to keep the Rio theme. The Cumaru stage provided the exotic Brazilian look with the rich tones of Cumaru contrasting with the sand at the Jonathan Beach Club in Santa Monica, California. At first glance one might think they were in Rio

 MadeFirst has an extensive list of projects throughout the US. With exquisite use of wood, metal, foam and/or plastic, this innovative company utilizes state of the art design and equipment to provide clients with breathtaking results. By staying firmly rooted in its philosophy, MadeFirst's will surely continue to achieve a highly acclaimed status and awards for its designs.


Posted in Projects, Cumaru, Millwork, Outdoor Living | Leave a comment

Plantation Teak Vs. Burmese Teak

When one lists the attributes of Teak, it almost seems too good to be true. Teak naturally resists rot, insects, and decay; doesn’t corrode when in contact with steel; has a beautiful, tight grain and weathers to a regal silver; is naturally non-skid; and is highly stable and easy to mill. It’s even been nicknamed “The King of Hardwoods.”


Burmese Teak is selectively harvested from well-managed forests in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), and these trees supply some of the most stable, durable lumber in the world. Decades ago, there was a time when many countries refused to source from Myanmar due to political and humanitarian issues. During that time, Teak plantations in other countries began to crop up, and as demand for Teak increased “plantation Teak” (Tectona grandis) was grown in areas as widely varying as Costa Rica, Indonesia, and Mexico.

Unfortunately, the soil chemistry in these non-native locations is different enough from Myanmar’s soil that plantation Teak is inferior. The high silica content in Myanmar’s soil contributes to the water- and weather-resistance of the wood, so the soil chemistry and climate variations in other parts of the world result in a much less consistent color and grain. The color of plantation Teak is less lustrous and is slightly lighter in tone. As an interesting side note, the high silica content of the soil in Myanmar also contributes to the species’ non-skid texture.

Aside from soil chemistry, plantation Teak differs in another major way. Burmese Teak is extremely stable and durable. Plantation Teak, on the other hand, is more rapidly grown and harvested. This fast growth and harvest rate results in a lesser quality and may affect the denisty of the wood. Boards from plantation Teak are more likely to crack and warp as a result of the fast growth. These plantation trees have a larger percentage of lower branches, which, despite pruning, causes pin knots which create greater defects and slope of grain issues resulting in less stability. Plantation Teak requires more maintenance to make up for these deficiencies.

Because responsible harvesting practices are so important to us at OHC, we vet all of our sourcing mills/partners to ensure that harvesting, processing, manufacturing, and shipping meets and exceeds local, state, federal, and international regulations. We’ve toured mills across Myanmar to find the right suppliers to produce well manufacrtured Burmese Teak with the best quality, grain, and size selction for 

Thanks to Half A CenTury of importing international hardwoods, we have the knowledge and skills to source only the highest quality, responsibly sourced, 100% Burmese Mountain Teak available.

Posted in Teak, Marine, Millwork | Leave a comment

How To Finish A Hardwood Deck

Finishing (applying a protective coating or stain) a hardwood deck is different than a softwood deck, like cedar or treated pine. For instance, hardwoods like Ipe, Cumaru, Tigerwood, and Garapa are much more dense, making it difficult for finishes to penetrate the wood. Even when using the proper UV-inhibiting hardwood oil, the finishing material essentially stays on the surface. Tropical hardwoods age well even without a finish. While the color of the hardwood will change over time the integrity of the hardwood won’t be compromised like softwoods, which can splinter or crack excessively if left unprotected.

Hardwood decking will oxidize when exposed to sunlight, developing a handsome, silver/gray patina. Hardwoods gray from the outside in, so if a project has been unfinished for a longer time, the thicker the gray surface will be. Luckily, if a homeowner tires of the silvery-gray color of aged wood, it is possible to bring back the original color.


Types of Finishes / Coatings

Since the hardwood is essentially impenetrable by typical coatings, a hardwood penetrating oil is recommended. UV rays from the sun are responsible for oxidation on the hardwood's surface, so a UV-inhibiting hardwood oil is best, such as Ipe Oil or Penofin Hardwood Oil. It’s worth reminding that oxidation and UV rays doesn’t damage hardwoods in the short term, but regularly applying a UV-inhibiting oil can increase the life of your project by years. UV-inhibiting oils will also help to maintain the natural color and minimize the graying from the sun.

Required Prepping

Fortunately, prep work is minimal to finish a hardwood deck. If your deck is less than two years old, or if it’s older but has been properly finished in the last couple of years, a simple power washing could do the trick. If that isn’t enough, apply a hardwood deck cleaner and brightener; you can also try some soap and water. It’s essential to apply the oil to a clean, dry surface. One exception is a brand new hardwood deck, which can sometimes have a mill glaze: a compressing of cell walls caused by process of machining the lumber to size. In some cases, you can sand the boards first to remove the glaze or us a prep to open the cells. Consult the manufacturer of the product you as using for best results.

If the deck has had several years of exposure to the sun and has completely grayed, you’ll may need to sand the boards to remove the oxidized surface, then follow the same instructions for finishing.

Finish Application

To stain a cedar or treated pine deck, one applies the stain with a roller or squeegee, letting the stain soak into the boards, then allows the stain to dry. Hardwood finishes, as you may have guessed, require a different application. Since the hardwoods are so dense, even penetrating oils don’t completely penetrate, resulting in a sticky and unsightly surface.

After a good washing, and making sure your deck is dry, apply the hardwood oil with a brush, wait ten to fifteen minutes, and then rub in as much oil as possible and remove any excess oil from the surface. If you’re finishing a large project, work in sections so you don’t have to walk on the finished surface. Depending on the heat and humidity of your location, the surface should be completely dry in a day or two.

Hardwood Maintenance

Maintenance of your deck depends on your location and your desired appearance for your project. If you live in an extremely hot, sunny climate, your deck might require an annual refinishing to maintain the natural color. However, if you live in a more temperate location or the project is partially shaded then your deck may only need to be refinished once every few years. The beauty of choosing a hardwood deck is that when it doesn’t look as new as you’d like, you can simply refinish!

Posted in Tigerwood, Garapa, Ipe, Cumaru, Outdoor Living, Technical Data | Leave a comment

The Evolution Of Trailer Flooring

OHC has been supplying the transportation industry since 1967, and is the largest North American supplier of Apitong/Keruing. Over the past 50 years OHC has been providing revolutionary products that have changed the way trailer owners look at platform/flatbed trailer flooring. Here’s a timeline showing how trailer flooring has changed throughout the years.


Domestic Hardwoods

During the 1960’s domestic hardwood lumber like Oak, Beech, Hickory and Maple was utilized extensively throughout the trailer flooring industry. In fact, these species are still acceptable for use on US Military trailers. Eventually, concerns arose from using domestic lumber from temperate forests.

Drawbacks to Domestic Hardwoods

  • Domestic lumber has knots, shake, wane other defects.
  • Higher-grade lumber sells for a premium, much of which is used in furniture and high-end products.
  • In order to obtain adequate vehicular grade flooring, domestic lumber must be defected (processed with trimming and ripping to remove unwanted defects within the lumber). This typically results in short length pieces averaging 5’-9’ in length.
  • Domestic hardwoods have limited enduring quality in exterior applications such as trailer flooring. To obtain greater durability, pressure treating lumber is necessary.
  • Domestic lumber is available in random widths 4” and wider. Unfortunately, a 6” board can range from 5-7/8”to 6-7/8” requiring each board to be pre-sized before machining process can be done.

Introduction of International Hardwoods

During the ‘60’s and ‘70’s OHC started importing Keruing (also known as Apitong) and manufacturing flooring in 8’-20’ length and various thickness. Primarily found in Malaysia and Indonesia, this hardwood is a superior choice for this application thanks to its excellent strength/weight ratio as well as its naturally occurring resin which helps the wood self heal when damaged. The longer lengths created a more enduring floor for the industry by eliminating multiple short component pieces. This was vital in the economics of installation and the reduction of interior board ends. Interior board ends are the cause for the majority of maintenance on a trailer floor since most deterioration begins at the board ends. There is also limited area on cross-member for screwing the ends of board on, causing break out and curling at board ends due to minimal holding capacity.

Benefits of Apitong/Keruing Hardwoods

  • Available in random lengths from 8’-20’.
  • Virtually free of defects.
  • Contains Damar resin. This resin assists in the enduring quality of the species.
  • Mechanical properties are such that it carries a load further than most domestic species.
  • High abrasion resistance.
  • Commercially available.

Custom Apitong/Keruing Flooring Kits

In the early 80’s OHC assisted trailer manufacturers in the design of trailer flooring. This gave way to OHC’s Cut-to-Length Custom fit floors. In a custom fit kit, the most economical utilization of raw material is machined to fit perfectly into the floor, maintaining suitable spacing of board ends to distribute and manage the weaker or inferior areas of the floor – interior board ends. This solution still centered on having to screw boards onto the 2-1/4” flange of a cross-member. The degradation and break out of board ends and curling up continued to exist.

Road Load Tested® Trailer Flooring

As OHC continued to work with fleet owners to address flooring problems, they recognized almost every problem centered on interior board ends. So, in the late 80’s OHC created a revolutionary solution called Road Load Tested® trailer flooring (RLT®). RLT® Trailer Flooring eliminates board ends and board end screws altogether in a patented process that delivers full  trailer-length planks. Every single lineal foot OHC processes goes through a machine stress rating process to assure it meets and exceeds the Truck Trailer Manufacturer Association’s (TTMA) recommended load ratings. Like all of OHC’s trailer flooring, RLT® Trailer Flooring is made with 100% Aptiong/Keruing hardwood.

These full trailer-length planks eliminate over 50 interior board ends and 100 screw holes that can create damage-prone areas in conventional trailer flooring.

Benefits of Road Load Tested® Trailer Flooring

  • Full trailer-length with no interior board ends.
  • The only proof load tested (machine stress rated) flooring available on market. This tests flooring to assure it meets and exceeds Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association’s recommended load ratings.
  • Reduces the number of screws needed to secure flooring.
  • Increases personnel safety. Personnel walking on trailer must be cautious around interior boards.
  • Reduces cargo  damage caused by curled up board ends.
  • Provides a stronger trailer floor by creating a Continuous Beam Effect.
  • Provides a more durable trailer by eliminating potential for deterioration at board ends.
  • Reduces maintenance costs.
  • Reduces downtime due to floor maintenance.

OHC works with trailer manufacturers to create and design a specified floor kit for their particular needs and to fit each manufacturer’s exact specifications. Our RLT® Flooring is manufactured for Just In Time (JIT) deliveries to meet the changing demands of our customers. This reduces carrying costs for the manufacturer and potential damage due to extra handling.

OHC’s innovative Road Load Tested® Trailer Flooring brings excellence by saving money, saving time, making a stronger and more durable trailer floor system, and reducing safety and maintenance hazards. It’s no wonder the majority of trailers on the road today use RLT® flooring!

Posted in Road Load Tested®, Technical Data | Leave a comment