Flat Sawn vs. Quarter Sawn Lumber

Before hardwood products ever make it to your deck, house or boat, a decision must first be made on how to cut the lumber. There are three ways that the lumber can be cut: flat sawn, rift sawn, and quater sawn.

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Flat Sawn  |  Rift Sawn  |  Quarter Sawn

Each method makes a difference in the appearance of the wood grain and its durability. For this article, we’re going to focus on the flat sawn and quarter sawn techniques (since they are more common). Here are the basics of the flat sawn and quarter sawn methods to help you make a decision on which is the best for you.

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Flat Sawn

This is the most common method, also known as plain sawn. This method has minimal waste and also showcases a “cathedral” look of annual rings. This look is the result of the annular rings being 45 degrees or less to the face of the board (known as tangential grain).

Flat sawn lumber is the most inexpensive option because it is the easiest to obtain. Generally 60-70% of the lumber from a log is flat sawn. The rest is quarter sawn or somewhere in between. This makes flat sawn more widely available and therefore cheaper. Logs can be cut to produce more quarter sawn but the yield from the log is lower and therefore more expensive. 

Overall, the flat sawn boards are popular for a reason — they are easy to come across and are more cost-effective than other cuts. If you’re looking for a solid cut that won’t go over-budget, you can’t go wrong by choosing the flat sawn method.

 

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Quarter Sawn

The quarter sawn method is a little bit more costly. However, it’s also more dimensionally stable than the flat sawn boards. Just as the name suggests, quarter sawn lumber is cut into four quarters and then cut using the plain sawn method. The process overall is more time intensive, but it creates a unique pattern that stands out against the plain sawn lumber.

While quarter sawn boards are more expensive, they are going to hold paint better and wear more evenly on the surface. In addition, when it comes to abosorbing moisture, quarter sawn boards expand more in thickness than flat sawn boards. This causes the boards to be more stable than flat sawn boards (which expand more in width when abosrbing moisture).

Quarter sawn lumber is a little harder to find, but it’s worth it if you’re willing to spend a little more money on a more stable board that boasts unique designs.

What should you choose?

There are many factors to consider when choosing a cut for your hardwood. If you’re more concerned about budget and availability, plain sawn lumber will be the best choice. However, if you want a board that will withstand more moisture and has a more interesting design, you will want to consider the quarter sawn lumber. We suggest visiting your nearest hardwood distributor and seeing the boards for yourself before you make a decision.

Have any more questions about flat sawn vs. quarter sawn lumber? Give us a call at 1-800-999-7616.

Posted in Teak, Ipe, Marine, Teak Decking, Hardwood Decking, Siding & Soffits, Millwork, Outdoor Living, Technical Data | Leave a comment

When Should You Use Marine Grade Plywood?

Marine Grade plywood is an incredibly durable and versatile product - especially when it comes to water applications. Whether you're building a boat or adding wood accents to your bathroom, it may be the perfect choice for the job. Our Marine Grade plywood is made with lightweight Okoume wood, waterproof adhesive and contains no voids. This guarantees long-lasting durability against water. However, it does come at a higher cost than regular plywood. Because of this, it’s important to make sure that you’re making a wise investment. So, when should you use Marine Grade plywood? We've made a list of some of the top projects.

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Boat Building

Whether building a small wooden boat or a large yacht, using marine grade plywood can be an excellent investment. First, it's pliable which makes it easier to work with when building curved structures like the hull of a boat. The plywood’s durability also makes it an excellent option for boat building of any scale. For boat hulls, it serves as reliable protection against leaks if the outer layer becomes scratched or damaged. If you’re building a boat, marine grade plywood is a long-lasting option that will protect your structure against damage and leaks.

Covered Docks

As you may have guessed, marine grade plywood is also a wise choice for docks. While other types of wood often have to be sanded and then treated annually, marine grade plywood will stand the test of time without this maintenance every year. For this reason, it is less likely to rot and warp because of the effects of constant water contact. The structure will remain intact and safe for many years to come.

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Lake Platforms

Much like docks, lake platforms greatly benefit from using marine grade plywood as opposed to less durable plywood. If you don’t use it when building a floating structure in the water, you can count on it deteriorating prematurely. We recommend nailing and gluing several boards together and finishing the wood with a waterproof sealer. This will allow you to enjoy your floating platform for many years to come.

Bathrooms

When it comes to interior uses for marine grade plywood, there are two places that experience the most moisture. The first is the bathroom. Using marine grade plywood can offer a different aesthetic than the standard materials used in bathrooms. It will also withstand the high moisture environment that comes from the shower and sink. Using it for flooring or a sink backsplash means you won't be taking any chances with rot or mold in your bathroom.

Kitchen

As you may have guessed, the kitchen is the second place in the interior of a home that often experiences the most moisture. Over time, steam and water can compromise the integrity of lesser grade wood in your kitchen. For a waterproof backsplash in your kitchen, marine grade plywood can make a statement and ward off the effects of constant moisture from steam and more. It can also be a great option for flooring or cabinets, depending on how much water they will come in contact with. 

We'd be happy to talk to you more about how marine grade plywood may be a great choice for your next project. Give us a call at 1-800-999-7616.

Posted in Marine Grade Plywood, Okoume, Marine | Leave a comment

Is Your Hardwood Deck Hurricane Proof?

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With the number of hurricanes the coast has faced over the past several months, it leaves many people along the coast wondering if their home is hurricane proof. When it comes to having a hurricane ready deck, you don’t want to take any chances. Choosing Hardwood Decking will no doubt give your project the added strength it needs to face a severe storm, but having a storm-proof deck doesn't end there. Whether you are about to begin the building process or you’ve had your deck for years, here are some ways to make sure that your hardwood deck is ready to face any storm.

Start from the ground up.

If you’re starting the building process, the first thing you’ll want to do is make sure the structure is well anchored in the ground. To do this, we suggest using heavier concrete footings. Mushroom footings, as opposed to standard sonotube footings, are a stronger way to anchor your deck. You may also want to use thicker framing for your deck. Heavy concrete footings and thicker framing is a solid place to start when building a hurricane-proof deck.

Bring on the hardware.

Once you have a strong foundation, you’ll want to take extra steps to secure the framing. One common and relatively easy way to do this is with hurricane ties. These metal pieces are often sold at local hardware stores and reduce the chance of any board coming loose or flying away during the high force winds of a hurricane or severe storm. They are inexpensive and we highly recommend installing them if you live in an area susceptible to hurricanes or tornadoes.

Keep the water moving.

After you've secured your foundation, it’s imperative that all of your gutters and irrigation is draining properly. Be sure to keep drains and irrigation channels clean and cleared out so that the heavy amount of water can pass through without causing any flooding around your home or deck. In the long term, excessive water and flooding can cause water damage to your deck and home. If your yard does not have a good irrigation system, we recommend contacting a professional about putting one in place.

Protect your deck surface.

If you haven’t already, waterproofing your hardwood deck with a UV Inhibiting sealant is another great way to protect it from the elements of a hurricane or severe storm. It will extend the life of your hardwood decking and help your deck keep its original appearance. If your deck has recently been stained, you don’t need to waterproof your deck as the stain acts as waterproof sealant. If you do decide it's time to apply waterproof sealant, make sure to check the forecast and leave at least 48 hours for it to completely dry.

Remove hazards that surround.

In the short-term before a heavy storm, you’ll always want to clear deck furniture and loose limbs that surround your deck. This eliminates the potential for a branch or deck chair becoming a hazard when the winds pick up. Also, be sure to prune the trees surrounding your deck, home and fence and remove any dead branches.

When it comes to preparing for any storm, it’s always better to be more prepared than necessary. The tips we've shared are a good place to start when looking at your hurricane readiness plan but, as always, you should consider additional precautions as necessary for your deck and home.

What hurricane prep tips would you add?

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How to Protect Your Outdoor Projects From Termites.

Termites can wreak havoc on your home or deck. If not caught quickly enough, they can alter the very foundation of any wood construction project. Thankfully, there are many precautionary measures that you can take to avoid damage done by termites. Here are some of the steps that you can take to protect your home or deck from the threat of infestation.

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Eliminate moisture.

Having moisture in your home is bad for many reasons, including termites. Why? Termites need two things: food and water. Since wood is their food, adding a source of water will give them all they need to survive. Be sure that your home or project is properly draining any water and that there are no sources of leaks.

Choose your wood carefully.

While maintaining an environment that keeps termites away is crucial, it’s also a good idea to chose a wood that termites will keep their distance from. Options like pressure-treated wood and hardwood species will act as a deterrent to termites. These types of wood aren’t a 100% guarantee against termites but they will keep them away more than other types of wood. We suggest talking with a member of our team to help you determine the best option for you.

Limit soil contact.

Most termites live and build their colonies underground in the soil. Because of this, you’ll want to make sure that you’re not giving them the perfect environment to live and breed right next to your house or deck. If you have to use mulch next to your house or project, check your local hardwood store for new rubber mulch options. Rubber mulch can be a great alternative that looks and acts like the real thing but doesn't attract any unwanted guests.

Spray pesticides.

Spraying liquid pesticide to the foundation of new construction sites is a common practice for good reason — it works. There are two types of pesticides you can spray. The first acts as a repellent. The second will kill the termites directly upon exposure. Since you’re working with chemicals, consult a professional to find out what they suggest for your home.

Elevate your structure.

One of the most important precautions to follow in termite prevention is ensuring that your wood structure is elevated above the ground. When it is closer to the ground, subterranean termites have easier access to it. If possible, use concrete to elevate your structure from the ground and eliminate the risk of termites making a meal out of your foundation.

Practice proper maintenance.

Keeping your home and yard maintained can make a big difference when it comes to warding off termites. Those fallen limbs or old 2x4's that have been sitting in your yard for a few months can serve as a breeding ground for termites. In addition, be sure to repair cracks that give termites an easy entryway, and, as mentioned before, fix any leaks.

Having a termite-free home is best done on the front-end of any project by choosing an insect-resistant hardwood. The key is to make the environment less favorable for them to live and to keep it that way with proper maintenance and upkeep.

What helpful advice would you add? Be sure and comment below.

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Houston Zoo Elephant Walk

Over the years zoos around the world have evolved from cramped, unnatural shelters to more natural, larger enclosures with water features, native plants, and built-in enrichment areas to provide the animals with physical and mental stimulation. In addition to being a more pleasing environment for the animals, it also creates a more beautiful, spacious environment for human visitors.

The Houston Zoo recently upgraded its Asian elephant enclosure and included a stunning Ipé walkway with observation platforms and seating. Forney Construction, based in Houston, was awarded the project as general contractor, and they in turn hired Sparq 1200, a visual environment specialist, as subcontractor. Sparq 1200, relying on previous experience, knew Overseas Hardwoods Company was easy to work with and provided the highest quality product.

 Sparq 1200 had a vision for how to economically complete the walkway and hired House Partners Architecture, an Ipé-installation expert, to install it. OHC came onsite for a consultation and suggested some changes which enabled Sparq 1200 to cut costs and save money. John Bone, President and Owner of Sparq 1200, commented, “Working with OHC was great; they understand dynamics of large commercial jobs and react to stay ahead of the game.” OHC exotic hardwoods are ideal for public spaces thanks to their durability and lifespan; they’re an excellent economical choice considering how long they last, even in high-traffic areas.

The zoo expansion doubled the size of the elephant enclosure, adding a 7,000 square-foot barn for the bull elephants, a 160,000 gallon pond with a state-of-the-art filtration system, and of course, the Ipé walkway. 

The walkway itself meanders around the perimeter of the enclosure, with two elevations, creating an auditorium-like area where visitors can sit or stand to enjoy the elephants. Sparq 1200’s creative design was approved for the shade structure, made of overlapping Ipé squares comprising a pyramid shape, to provide a cooler observation spot on a hot summer day. Additional skirting around the bottom of the walkway was also crafted from Ipé.

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Ipé was chosen both for its long lifespan and its beauty. It can withstand the hot Texas sun with stability and without splitting or splintering, and it naturally resists insect attacks, rot and decay near the water features.

The walkway must stand up against the thousands of visitors it receives each day. To provide traction, OHC machined a 1 3/16” line into every other board to create an anti-skid traction area, keeping everyone safe, from small children to elderly visitors and everyone in between. John Bone again praised OHC, noting that “OHC’s processing capabilities enable us to have precise machining for the traction groove, saving time and creating a very consistent result.”

OHC lumber is a win for the zoo, creating a safe, beautiful and long-lasting habitat for the elephants and humans, and a win for the project’s contractors. In fact, Fortney Construction and Sparq 1200 had such a good experience that they’ll be utilizing OHC hardwoods for several upcoming major public space projects.

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Porch Decking

Homeowners today are looking for ways to maximize outdoor spaces, bringing comfort and functionality to gardens, patios, and decks, and outdoor living rooms and outdoor kitchens have never been more popular than they are today. Many of these outdoor rooms share a common feature: porch decking.

Porch decking, sometimes called porch flooring, differs from regular decking in several ways. First, porch decking is always installed under a roof. This can be in a screened-in porch or an open porch, but it must be covered. 

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Unlike regular decking, porch decking is installed without gaps between boards. Since this decking/flooring is covered, the boards are protected from expansion and contraction caused by UV-rays and precipitation. This is the very reason gaps are necessary in an uncovered deck application. Porch decking is typically sold in a tongue and grooved pattern. Occasionally, some prefer a shiplap pattern.

Porch decking can be installed with the boards either parallel or perpendicular to the house. This can be an aesthetic decision made by the homeowner or designer, but it can also be used for more practical purposes, such as to direct water runoff or to allow the contractor to fit a board into a tight space.

Porch decking is commonly available in treated Pine or several species of exotic hardwoods: Ipé, Garapa, Cumaru, and Tigerwood. For a variety of reasons these exotic hardwoods are a superior choice for porch decking over treated woods like Pine. Treated wood splinters and cracks over time, and requires a much more significant amount of maintenance. Exotic hardwoods are harder and more dense, with closer growth rings, and they naturally resist pests, mold, and rot. The lifespan of treated wood is much shorter than the lifespan of an exotic hardwood.

OHC’s exotic hardwood porch decking will enhance any outdoor project, combining quality and beauty for a porch that’s sure to please any homeowner.

5 Rivers revisited

5 Rivers, Alabama’s Delta Resource Center, is a dream location for an outdoor lover. Named for the five rivers that converge into the Mobile Bay, 5 Rivers was created to protect the extraordinary variety of plant and animal species in the freshwater and marine ecosystems found there, as well as the wetlands, waterways, and woods.

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Visitors to 5 Rivers enjoy kayaking, canoeing, hiking, nature cruising, camping, and bird watching. They also take advantage of the theater, convention center, classrooms, exhibit hall, and gift shop. 

Existing walkways, piers, and shelter platforms were originally made with Pine decking, which required a nearly continuous maintenance. Eventually these structures needed to be replaced. The State of Alabama contracted with Gillis Construction, a well-respected construction company from Bay Minette, Alabama, to replace the old, degrading Pine structures with new ones made from Overseas Hardwoods Company’s Ipé. Since several sites were accessible only by river, Gillis Construction outfitted their crew to get up and down the river using a barge loaded with supplies, adapting well to a rather challenging construction site.

The choice to use Ipé was an easy one, as it can withstand the area’s high temperatures and humidity, as well as contact with water, all without compromising its natural beauty. Because Ipé is so durable, it requires little maintenance and can last for over 25 years. Additionally, unlike Pine, Ipé does not require chemical treatments to enhance durability, so leaching chemicals into the watershed and ecosystem will not occur. These qualities make it an economical and environmentally-friendly choice for a state-owned property.

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This comprehensive project recently reached completion. The projects include an extensive boardwalk, four shelter platforms, kayak launch, eagle and osprey nesting platforms as well as a variety of areas to commune with nature. The shelter platforms provide a covered and enclosed space to sleep or take cover from the elements. The nesting platforms look like a telephone poll with a box at the top, and create a safe place away from power lines, light and cell phone towers for these indigenous birds to nest.

Maintaining an ecosystem requires protecting flora and fauna from humans as well as protect humans interacting with flora and fauna. Included in this project are areas with specially designed fencing to curtail feral hog activity. Feral, or wild, hogs can damage delicate ecosystems, native wildlife, and can be very aggressive towards humans. The new fencing is made of not only durable, but very strong Ipé and a thick gauge of square, wire fencing to restrict access to feral hogs.

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These improvements to 5 Rivers provide a service for the public, making the park safer while providing more access to the incredible wild spaces the Mobile Delta has to offer. This wonderful utilization of state funding, with extended life expectancy, and limited maintenance, while providing excellent ways for citizens to interact with nature, will create a value for several generations of flora, fauna and of course, human beings.

Marine Grade Plywood

There are few materials in shipbuilding that are as versatile as marine-grade plywood. Whether it’s needed for construction or repair, for a craft from an 8-foot skiff to a 65-foot yacht, Overseas Hardwoods Company has the plywood solution for any boating application.

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OHC’s marine-grade plywood is made of Okoume wood with no filler material. In some lower-quality plywood another wood species is used as filler, but that type of plywood simply isn’t high enough quality to meet OHC standards. All of OHC’s Okoume marine-grade plywood is BS-1088  certified, which means this plywood is manufactured to the highest standards approved by Lloyd’s of London, the premium insurance underwriter in the world.

 Okoume is a superb choice for marine-grade plywood not just for its high quality, but also for its good looks. When used in repairs on Mahogany or Meranti boats, the grain pattern blends in, creating a consistent, flawless look.

 OHC carries eight different sizes of marine-grade plywood for everything from high-end custom kayak or canoe to a large yacht. The 4x8’ sheets are available in six different thicknesses, and the 5x10’ sheets are available in two different thicknesses. Small watercraft builders may utilize the 4mm plywood, as it bends and shapes easily without cracking, and increases buoyancy. Yacht and larger watercraft builders might be more interested in the 12-25mm plywood for a durable hull, to withstand larger waves or a treacherous, rocky passage.

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For building, marine-grade plywood can be used over the boat’s ribbing, creating the outer shell of the boat. Choosing plywood over planking means less seams to fill which creates a streamlined and more efficient building process. A plywood hull can also be lighter weight than planking, which is particularly helpful for smaller watercraft, as it increases buoyancy and makes it easier to haul.

 Marine-grade plywood also proves itself useful for repairs. The rotten, moldy, or damaged area can be cut out and a patch can be crafted using the plywood. If constructed and sealed properly, the repair can make the watercraft as good as new.

Besides boating, marine grade plywood can be used for other applications. It can be used for a dock or lake platform, as the plywood can be nailed or screwed together and then properly sealed. Another possible application is kitchen or bathroom walls and subflooring. Marine grade plywood can withstand the occasional splashes, spills, and leaks that are common to these rooms, without rotting or warping like regular plywood. Exterior signs also benefit from being made of marine grade plywood. Marine grade plywood can withstand the elements, from strong winds to rain, sleet and snow, without degrading like traditional plywood.

 

Whether a big or small project, from boats to homes to docks and more, and whether for new construction or a repair, Overseas Hardwoods Company’s marine-grade plywood is the quality solution for strength and durability.

 

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Lowboy Trailer Flooring

Lowboy Trailer Flooring

Imagine a truck strong enough to haul two army tanks or excavating equipment for a rock quarry. Now imagine it travelling down the interstate next to your relatively small vehicle. Don’t you want to know that the trailer flooring supporting that machinery is the strongest, best type for the load? Luckily, if it’s made with lowboy trailer flooring from Overseas Hardwoods Company, you know that equipment is safe and secure.

Overseas Hardwoods Company provides Lowboy trailer flooring for the majority of the finest manufacturers of lowboy trailers. These manufacturers, using OHC flooring, craft trailers that haul mammoth wind turbines, cranes, drilling equipment, and heavy-duty equipment made to tunnel through miles-wide mountains.

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Lowboy trailers haul anywhere from 35-500 tons (in some cases). Because of this ultra-heavy load, the trailer flooring must be much thicker than flooring for other types of trailers, from 1 ¾” up to 3” thick, compared to 1 ⅛” to 1 ⅜” thick for platform flats and drop decks. It also must be rated high enough to withstand the weight.

Wood is an ideal material for lowboy trailers because it can withstand the impact of bumps and dips in the road, and steel on wood gives the flooring the elasticity necessary to carry such a load. Having the right floor to carry the product and not cause damage is vital.

Lowboy flooring, like all of OHC’s trailer flooring, is made from Apitong/Keruing, a sustainably harvested hardwood proven to last in any weather, under the most rugged conditions, and in heavy-duty use. This high-quality lumber species decreases repairs and maintenance and has a well-earned reputation as the best species for trailer flooring.

The next time you see an oversized piece of equipment barreling down the road, rest easy. It’s probably traveling on the best lowboy flooring, made with OHC’s lumber.

Meranti shutters

Meranti Shutters Hinge on Quality

It’s commonly known that shutters were first used in ancient Greece to provide privacy and protect from light and the elements. From Greece, shutters spread west to Spain and England, which then influenced shutter use in the United States, where they can be seen on historic homes such as Monticello and Mount Vernon. Spanish-style shutters were most popular in the South, now known as Plantation Shutters, while the English-style shutters were most commonly used in New England. Over time, shutters have evolved in design and use, but remain popular to this day.

Centuries ago high-quality lumber species, like Mahogany, were often used for shutters, but with mass production and the post-World War II housing boom, manufacturers began using less expensive woods like Southern Yellow Pine. These soft wood shutters rotted and degraded more rapidly under constant exposure to rain, sun, and elements. Eventually vinyl, plastic, and other synthetic materials were used and while these didn’t rot like Pine, they looked cheap and  incongruous on an otherwise lovely home.

Today’s best millwork shops are returning to high-quality hardwood species like Meranti for shutters that last for decades, making them an excellent economical choice over the life of the shutter.

Nemesu Shutter sample.jpgMeranti is highly sought after for shutters for many reasons, both aesthetic and practical. For the homeowner, this wood species looks rich and warm with a stain, or looks just as beautiful with paint. With proper maintenance, either finish can last for decades.

Some importers selling Meranti market it as “DUC” (Dark Uniform Color) which is a misnomer, as there is a wide variance in appearance and performance. Unfortunately, this results in a product with disparate hues and poor quality. However, in order to deliver the enduring performance and more uniform appeal, Overseas Hardwoods Company offers two distinct, selected species of Meranti in its High Performance Lumber Products line. The first, Nemesu, is a dense/dark species, and the second, Dark Red Seraya, is a medium dense/dark species. Both have a rich, warm color range. By limiting our supply to two specific types, we ensure a consistent, reliable appearance and enduring qualities. Meranti also naturally resists rotting and pests, thanks to naturally-occurring oils in the wood, which is why it works well in exterior applications. Additionally, Meranti machines well, stays flat, and doesn’t warp, if painted or sealed correctly. It cuts well when going through the moulding machine, and doesn’t beat up the machinery.

Meranti is the economical choice for high-quality, long-lasting exterior shutters. They’re beautiful, durable, and have a long life.

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