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5 Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning Your Deck

Spring is almost here! And after a long, cold, and very snowy winter for many in the United States, just the thought of enjoying a warm day in April or May must warm the soul. For deck owners, all you have to do is just step outside onto your porch or back deck and soak up the sun, right? Not so fast.

 

If you own a deck or porch, you know there's work to be done! After winter, there's bound to be stains, dirt, and grime that has been left to sit and settle into the boards and between the gaps. If you're not careful, there are a few ways you can actually ruin the look of your deck if you're not careful.

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Here are the top mistakes to avoid when cleaning or refinishing your deck:

1. Letting nature do the work

If you think the wind and rain that come during the spring will clean your deck or porch for you, think again. All the elements can do is move around dirt and grime, not remove it.

2. Not clearing the gaps

Allowing any part of your deck to accumulate dirt, leaves, and anything else in between the gaps of your deck boards can lead to serious issues. Any organic matter that's left to rot can cause discoloring and premature rotting of wood (especially softer woods like pine and cedar). Also, because water tends to accumulate in any area where it cannot run off, it will pool and potentially cause your decking to warp and twist. Do your boards a favor, mind the gap and clear them out thoroughly.

3. Excessive powerwashing

Decking materials, whether they be as strong as Ipe or made of composite materials, are not steel or glass. They can be damaged by prolonged power washing, using the wrong tip, or too high of a PSI. If you have never pressure washed a deck before, you need to do the following:

  • Use a fan tip
  • Wash along the grain and the length of the board
  • Never aim too close to the deck surface

4. Not cleaning your deck prior to refinishing

So, let's say you have a new deck made of Ipe and it's due for its very first annual refinishing. Instead of reading the directions, you simply sweep off some leaves and dirt and apply the oil. Everything looks fine the first day, but after a while you notice strange markings on your deck. Surely, it must be the oil! Nope. The oil did its job. Unfortunately, it's not enough to sweep off your deck prior to oiling it. It has to be thoroughly cleaned so the finishing solution of your choice can adhere to the grain and protect the wood. If there's dirt still left in the wood, the oil cannot properly soak into the surface. Use a wood deck cleaner and brightener to prevent giving yourself more work and an ugly deck to look at.

5. Not checking the weather prior to refinishing

It's Saturday morning and you are going to oil your deck first thing in the morning. You oil your deck in no time flat. Sunday morning, everything still looks good. Then it rains. You don't notice it at first, but after a few days you notice the finish is uneven and it looks like the wood has spots all over it. What happened? Because the oil had not yet fully dried and settled into the wood, the finish became uneven. To prevent this from happening, make sure your deck is completely dry 24 hours prior to and after applying any finish or sealer.

Conclusion

Aviod these mistakes and you can give yourself the best chance of not spending a lot of time and money on future deck maintenance and repairs. Instead, you can clean your deck, apply a finish, and enjoy it for the remainder of the year.

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

Featured Project: Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino

At OHC, we supply the finest, pre-sanded Ipe, and our reputation for distributing high-quality Ipe stretches far beyond decking. One such case is the newly renovated Golden Nugget Hotel & Casinos in Lake Charles, LA and Biloxi, MS. We custom-machined Ipe for the upscale hotels' cabanas, day beds, gift shop, and pool seating areas.

Posted in Projects, Ipe, Outdoor Living | Leave a comment

Featured Project: St. Lawrence Catholic Church

It’s been said that humans have a primordial need to build wooden structures, stemming from eons of building and living in them. The stunning millwork in St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Fairhope, AL fulfills that need, creating a feeling of warmth and security for its parishioners.

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A contemporary, octagonal structure capable of accommodating 600 worshippers, the interior of the building mixes brickwork and millwork to achieve a warm but airy space.

Meranti Dark Red Seraya was the first choice for the millwork, due to its striking beauty and durability in the continually changing climate of the coastal location near Mobile Bay.

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St. Lawrence Catholic Church faced a special challenge with its design: the 40-foot wood panels on the walls and ceiling needed variation and depth to avoid monotony and heft. Fortunately the beautiful grain and skilled custom millwork break up these substantial sections. Also, the gorgeous natural color of the Dark Red Seraya complements the pink/red tones of the brickwork, creating contrasting textures and producing an aesthetically pleasing mix.

The architects utilized gapped siding to show off the Meranti Dark Red Seraya and break up the large wall and soffit sections. Instead of placing the boards right next to each other, the designers left a space in between, highlighting the character of each individual plank.

Overseas Hardwoods Company’s Meranti Dark Red Seraya is known for its workability and its proficiency at remaining stable and lying flat in service. 

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The cupola in the center of the sanctuary lets in natural light, breaking up the paneling and playing up the differing appearance of the wood. Although the same wood species and the same finish was used for the panels and the cupola, the cupola looks quite distinct from the soffit. Meranti boasts a tight grain structure, allowing designers and builders to use the same species but achieve different looks, depending on the light.

 

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Another interesting detail of the cupola are the decorative circles nestled between support beams. Intended merely as a point of interest, these circles speak to the workability of the wood. OHC’s Meranti provides a restrictive premium grade that includes PHAD (Pin Holes Are Defects), meaning architects and millwork companies have a greater latitude in design and creativity due to the absence of virtually all defects. 

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Is Philippine Mahogany A True Mahogany?

Here's the truth behind Philippine Mahogany:

Vintage boat with Philippine Mahogany

The term "Philippine Mahogany" was used largely in the 1950's and '60's to describe wood species used on luxury boats or yachts.

For many years the Meranti wood species has been known as "Philippine Mahogany." Philippine Mahogany is a term that generally applies to a number of wood species native to southeast Asia. Confusingly, Philippine Mahogany is not actually a type of Mahogany at all. Many types of wood have co-opted the name but aren’t truly Mahogany, such as Royal Mahogany and East Indian Mahogany. “True” Mahogany comes from the Swietenia and Khaya genuses, while the name “Philippine Mahogany” has been used to describe many types of lumber species from the Shorea genus. (Things get even more confusing when buying lumber in Australia, where wood from the Shorea genus is marketed as Pacific Maple!)

Philippine Mahogany encompasses many different varieties of wood that have been offered by non-traditional lumber companies, creating negative results and a bad rap for the name. The five main groupings (based on heartwood color and weight) for Philippine Mahogany are Light Red Meranti, Dark Red Meranti, White Meranti, Yellow Meranti, and Balau.

Each of these types not only has a different appearance but has different mechanical strength values and different working properties.

Many Philippine Mahogany/Meranti importers in the United States sell a commercial grade known as DUC (Dark Uniform Color), but unfortunately, actual uniformity has been sorely lacking. This grade has wide variances in grain, color, and tone.

Out of all of the false Mahoganies, those in the Shorea genus probably come the closest to genuine Mahogany in look and workability. Philippine Mahogany/Meranti has been used for centuries as a less expensive substitute for Mahogany and is an excellent choice for everything from structural work, boat building, outdoor furniture, and decking.

All true Mahogany species in their native countries are listed in Appendix II of the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Philippine Mahogany/Meranti is not listed on CITES II, making it a more ecologically sound choice.

Meranti and Philippine Mahogany are two names for the same species of wood, but in order to be more precise and deliver a more uniform and consistent product, Overseas Hardwoods Company (OHC) has decided to focus on two specific types of Meranti. 

DR_Seraya_front_grain.jpgClassic Meranti Dark Red Seraya

Nemesu (Left) & Dark Red Seraya (Right)

Meranti Nemesu is a dense/dark species, and Meranti Dark Red Seraya is a medium dense/dark species. Both have a warm, luminous appearance with consistent color and grain variation, and a high degree of workability.

Thanks to OHC’s outstanding reputation as a top source of high-quality lumber, you can eliminate uncertainty and count on a reliable, consistent product when you choose Meranti for a project.



Posted in Meranti, Marine, Millwork, Technical Data | Leave a comment

Featured Project: St. Ignatius Catholic Parish

It’s rare to find a church that feels both sacred and inviting. St. Ignatius Catholic Parish in the College Park area of Mobile, AL is one such church. Worshipping together since 1937, the church dedicated its first building in 1978, added a vestibule in 1979 and completed a major choir loft renovation in 2015. 

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Mobile’s coastal climate requires a high-functioning wood species, but just as high on the list of specifications was a wood that would age with beauty and create a warm and inviting space.

Thanks to its reputation for withstanding high humidity and resisting rot, Meranti Nemesu was utilized in the church’s original construction. Therefore any new renovations needed to match the look of the existing millwork.

 

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Any millwork shop, builder, or architect is concerned with the durability of a wood species. Walking through St. Ignatius and comparing the wood from the 1970s to that of the 2015 construction gives a good sense of how this particular species of wood ages. Not only has it held up without warping or unseemly wearing, the Meranti Nemesu has mellowed into a dark chocolate finish that very nearly glows.

The rich, organic feel of the Meranti Nemesu millwork in St. Ignatius expresses the warm and inviting atmosphere of the building.

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The expansive coffered ceiling, which is inset with lighting, plays up Meranti’s natural glow, reflecting light as it bounces from surface to surface. This design element shows off the wood’s beauty, but also diffuses and softens the light in the sanctuary. The oculus directly above the altar also lets natural light in, adding another dimension of light and warmth to the room.

 

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The paneled wall and inlaid icons complement the building’s atmosphere. The icons, which are painted onto a golden background, play up the wood’s natural glow and gold undertones. The icons and Nemesu panels are so lustrous that they appear to be subtly lit, but are simply reflecting the ambient light of the church.

 

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The modern stained glass windows seen throughout the church invite contemplation of the sacred, marrying contemporary design with biblical and ecclesiastical iconography. The amber, chestnut, and ochre tones of the stained glass echo the rich tones of the paneled walls surrounding them. Additionally, the circular shape of many of the stained glass windows repeats the circles seen in the heavy wood doors of the church, creating a pleasing sense of continuity.

 

 

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The parishioners of St. Ignatius worship together in the original church pews from 1978. Each pew, milled from a single board of Nemesu, has no seam, and has borne the wear and tear of constant use for nearly 40 years, but they look just as beautiful and welcoming as the day they were installed.

Meranti Nemesu is available in extra wide (12”) cuts as well as extra long (8’ to 22’), making dramatic design possible.

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Several design elements in the church would not be possible without OHC’s long cuts of wood. These seamless boards are featured on the coffered ceiling, the vestibule, the altar dais, and the paneled walls of the choir loft. The planks emphasize the height of the sanctuary, drawing your eyes up, as befits a house of worship. It simultaneously makes the space feel both vast and intimate, which is quite a feat.

 

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A particular challenge for this project was the large sections covered with wood paneling. With Meranti Nemesu’s varied grain and slight variation in color, the wall has ample depth and character which prevents it from appearing dense and monotonous, like a large brown painted wall.

St. Ignatius Catholic Parish has welcomed multiple generations of worshipers to its building, and with the beauty and longevity of its Meranti Nemesu millwork, it will last for many generations to come.

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