Many people wrongly believe that a decking board is a finished product, when it actually requires a few more stages after leaving the lumber mill. Tropical decking boards, in particular, take a beating as they travel from the jungles of South America, Asia or Africa to U.S. ports. To get these boards from their post-transit state to becoming a properly finished product, a few crucial actions must be followed.
From the Woods to the Lumberyard
The majority of decking boards are milled near where the trees are felled. They become S4S, E4E decking boards at that time, with a routed groove along the edges for those ready to use with decking clip systems. The boards travel for months in that state, initially in trucks and then being shifted to metal containers to be shipped across the Atlantic.
During this operation, filth and grime are crushed into the wood fibers as the boards are piled and unstacked repeatedly, typically by hand. This kind of handling depletes the moisture content of the boards in addition to playing a toll on how they look. Not only does climate change alter moisture levels, but condensation from the metal containers on boats, trains and tractor trailer trucks can cause boards to soak overnight and then be exposed to kiln-like conditions during the day. Mineral deposits and water stains are common side effects.
After arriving at a lumber distribution yard, the decking boards may have to wait several months before reaching your job site.
From the Lumberyard to Your Door
Your decking boards are placed in the soil as they wait to be pulled for your order, causing more grime to accumulate on them. It’s pointless to have the boards cleaned before shipping, because they’ll be subjected to even more filth on their way to your project site, as well as while waiting for installation and even during installation.
You could notice some uneven surfaces on your decking planks when they arrive at your project site. You’ll probably notice rough areas with harder fibers risen above the rest of the surface due to tear out around knots and varied sawing techniques. Sanding before installation, like cleaning, isn’t desirable. Fluctuating moisture levels will also be an issue; to allow for acclimatization, provide enough time for the lumber to adjust to the environment at your job site; this will make installation go much more smoothly.
Installation to Completion
Some people feel that once a decking board is installed as part of your deck, it becomes a finished project. However, there are some key finishing touches you will want to address. Smooth down elevated areas with a hand-held belt sander or random orbital sander for maximum beauty and consistency. Ground-in dirt will be removed during the sanding process. Cleaning chemicals can eliminate water stains, mineral deposits, and color variations, while brighteners will lighten the entire deck and erase any graying.
You now have your finished product, which is installed and ready to admire.