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.

Flat Sawn Rift Sawn Quarter Sawn Lumber Illustrations

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.

flat sawn ipe deckingFlat Sawn Ipe Decking

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.


quarter sawn teak deckingQuarter Sawn Teak Decking

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

Is Your Hardwood Deck Hurricane Proof?


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.


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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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!

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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!

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Is Ipe Fire Proof?

Ipe, an exotic hardwood from Brazil, is known for its many desirable qualities. It’s dense, durable, naturally resists rot and pests and its beauty is unparalleled.


Some have even claimed it’s fireproof. But is there data to support this claim or is it simply hyperbole?

The most commonly accepted test for flame rating is the Standard Test Method for Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Materials, also known as the ASTM E-84.The ASTM E-84 test measures how far and fast flames spread across the surface of the test sample by installing a 20”x25’ sample of the material as the ceiling of a test chamber, and exposing the material to a gas flame. The resulting flame spread rating (FSR) is expressed as a number on a scale where cement board is 0 and red oak is 100. This scale is then divided into three classes (Class A, 0-25 FSR; Class B, 26-75 FSR; and Class C, 76-200 FSR). Generally, inorganic materials such as brick or tile are Class A-rated and most whole wood products are Class B or C.  

Several years ago other lumber suppliers tested Ipe under the ASTM E-84 test. At the time, the metrics used to test fire spread were far less stringent than they are today, and Ipe was given a Class A rating, the same rating given to both concrete and steel. Is it conceivable that a wood product could have the same fire spread rating as concrete and steel? In a word: no. With today’s stricter metrics, Ipe is generally given no more than a class B rating. In order to receive a Class A rating each bundle of lumber would have to be tested, which is costly and inefficient.

However, Ipe is the wood with the best flame spread resistance, better than any other decking option.

Reinforcing this claim, in 2007 the United States Forest Products Laboratory released a report entitled “Cone Calorimeter Tests of Wood-Based Decking Materials” which show that the density of untreated Ipe outperforms other traditional decking materials such as pine, cedar, and redwood. It’s a superb choice for deck building anywhere, but particularly in a wildfire sensitive area. Additionally, it’s also often used for rooftop decking in densely packed urban areas as a measure of fire protection.

In summary, although it can not support claims to be fireproof, Ipe does provide a greater flame spread resistance than other decking options.

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Sinker Cypress: Buried Treasure

In the 1800s and 1900s, loggers used the best technology of their time (axes and saws) to harvest Cypress trees from the swamps of Florida and the lower Mississippi Valley. The trees would then dry out for up to two years in order to become light enough to float down the river to the mill. However, an estimated 10-20% of all Cypress trees harvested at that time never made it to the mill, instead sinking into the mud and silt at the bottom of the river. These logs became known as “Sinker Cypress” or Sinker Deadhead Logs because they have sunk to the river’s bottom.


Today, Sinker Cypress is harvested from these rivers using the best technology of our time: sonar and other locating equipment.

Once discovered, scuba divers swim down, attach cables to the logs, and use a winch or airbags to pull the logs to the surface. Once again, the logs need to be air-dried for up to two years before they are usable.

Sinker Cypress isIMG_1719.jpg a highly desired lumber product. Because it’s a reclaimed lumber, the supply is limited. As old-growth wood, this lumber is harder, denser, and more stable than newer-growth Cypress, and its 150-year underwater preservation process makes it one of the most rot- and insect-resistant woods in the world. Sinker Cypress contains an oil, cypressene, which preserves the heart wood in the water as organisms eat away at the bark. Even after harvesting, the cypressene continues to protect the wood from the elements, rotting and pests.

Sinker Cypress is also known for its beautiful grain variations, from honeyed browns to grays to olive greens, depending on where it came to rest in the river bottom. If the log landed in a sandy area, lighter tones developed, and a muddier river bottom results in a darker, more olive green tone. Over the century and a half that the logs have been immersed, they have taken on the tannins and minerals from their resting places. Besides a gorgeous tone and color, a naturally tight grain structure gives the wood an unrivaled allure.

Sinker Cypress is commonly used for interior and exterior siding and soffit, but can be used for anything from flooring to furniture. Its strength and attractiveness lends itself to a variety of applications.

Additionally, as a reclaimed wood, Sinker Cypress is an eco-friendly product, and architects and builders can earn LEED points by using it.

pecky_cypress-013594-edited.jpgPecky Sinker Cypress is an even rarer and more valuable type of Sinker Cypress. This highly sought-after wood has pockets and recesses in it that, when milled, show up as unique markings. Surprisingly, the recesses are caused by a fungus called “stereum taxodil” which only flourishes while the tree is alive, and dies off when the tree is cut down. The Pecky Cypress adds a distinctive beauty especially well-suited to a rustic look.  

Sinker Cypress offers strength, durability, and a commanding, exquisite beauty, but its appeal doesn’t lie only in its good qualities. These qualities combined with a rich history of preservation at the bottom of ageless rivers, and a small impact on the planet make Sinker Cypress an unparalleled choice for any project.

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Tropical Hardwood vs. Composite decking

When planning a deck, one of the first essential decisions is what material to use. There are many choices but this article will focus on comparing composite materials with tropical hardwood decking.


While both options have  benefits and drawbacks, there are many compelling reasons to choose a tropical hardwood such as Ipe, Cumaru, Garapa, and Tigerwood for your next deck.

Installation Cost


Wood is generally quicker and less expensive to install than composite, due to framing. Composite decking requires a 16” on center spacing because it is too weak and flexible to withstand a wider span between joists. Hardwoods allow up to 24” on center spacing, depending on the deck pattern, saving time and money on installation.

Strength and Durability


Tropical hardwoods have a much wider range of both width and thickness than composite boards, giving them an advantage in strength and durability. Composite materials lack strength, bowing under heavy foot traffic, making them an especially poor choice for commercial use. Even in a residential application, sagging between joists is often noticeable.



Some types of tropical hardwood decking, such as Ipe, can be built and then practically forgotten about, weathering to a beautiful, aged patina. If the weathered look isn’t desired, a tropical hardwood deck does need to have UV protectorate applied in order to preserve the original look of the wood. Composite decking has been manufactured for several decades now, and this product hasn’t quite aged as well as marketers promised. Tropical hardwood decks can easily last 30-40 years, depending on the environment. Although composite decking has a limited stain and fade warranty, it won’t outlast hardwood decking.

Look and Feel


The strongest claim composite manufacturers can make about the beauty of their product is that it looks like real wood. At its very best composite wood is an inferior facsimile of true tropical hardwood. Why buy a substitute? There’s no way to truly emulate the natural grain, shade variation, and genuine appearance of actual wood. There is no comparison when it comes to aesthetics. Composite decking will also never feel like natural wood. Even as technology improves the look of composite decking, it will still feel like plastic. Another consideration is heat retention. This is most applicable to decks installed in very warm areas, such as the southern United States. Composite decking heats up approximately 10 degrees warmer than tropical hardwoods, making bare feet on the deck intolerable. Especially for decks intended for families with young children, this is an important detail.

Taking all factors into consideration, tropical hardwoods have the advantage. It will last for decades, decrease installation costs, feel like natural wood, and most importantly, bring a homeowner the pleasure of its beauty for a very long time, serving as the backdrop for many happy memories.

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Why is Teak so Expensive?

The word “Teak” is synonymous with quality outdoor furniture, decking, and prestigious yachts. But as anyone who’s purchased Teak knows, that quality comes at a cost.


The basic law of supply and demand dictates much of this high cost.

Teak is in high demand because of its properties. It is durable; water-, pest- and rot-resistant; has only minor shrinkage; doesn’t corrode with steel; and very importantly, has a beautiful look, naturally weathering to a silvery-gray tone.

Teak (Tectona grandis) comes from Myanmar (formerly Burma), a country of 51 million people in Southeast Asia, bordering Bangladesh, India, China, Laos, and Thailand. Myanmar’s forests contain half of the world’s naturally occurring teak. Teak has also been cultivated in other parts of Southeast Asia, but this plantation Teak is generally viewed as inferior to indigenous Burmese Teak.

Several changes in Myanmar have contributed to an increased cost of Teak. For instance, the increase in government regulations have led to a decline in logging. While these measures exist to preserve the ecology of the country, they have caused the price to increase.

There is simply less Teak available.  

Formerly, companies were able to legally export logs, which has now been banned in favor of exporting only processed lumber. Paying more for a more processed product has led to an increased cost. It’s also difficult to obtain teak logs from the forest. OHC’s Teak is logged using ancient, traditional methods which are less disruptive to the forest than a skidder..

Another factor affecting the cost of Teak is civil unrest in Myanmar. Unfortunately Myanmar has had one of the longest-running civil wars in history. This unrest made it difficult and costly to do business there. While the dictatorship officially ended in 2011, many current political players are former military officers. Even so, the political situation has improved since 2011.

OHC’s Teak is 100% responsibly harvested and our partners in Myanmar participate in reforestation. However, the cost of Teak isn’t going to decrease any time in the near future.

Its limited supply, logging restrictions, and highly desirable quality are reflected in the price, but thankfully that high price is attached to an excellent, long-lasting product.

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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.


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.


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.

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