Like short lumber is for all imported lumber, odd-length decking is a by-product of exotic decking lumber: It’s here, it’s perfectly good lumber, and most builders are afraid to touch it. Will you dare to be different? Keep reading to find out what’s in it for you, if you do!
Why Do Most Mills Carry Only Even-Length Decking?
Just like the U.S. partiality to longer lumber, the national propensity to buy only even-length decking is, you guessed it, unique to the U.S. lumber market. Since most decking lumber is comprised of exotic species milled for a global market that generally realizes that an 11-foot-long board is every bit as good as a 10-foot-long board (well, actually, it’s a little better!), we can actually save money by being a little less peevish about the lengths that we’ll accept. Years ago, we used to insist on all even-length decking, but now we accept odd-length Ipe and other decking species.
What Happens When U.S. Mills Insist on Buying Only Even-Length Decking?
The majority of mills simply won’t have it; if you want to buy only even-length decking, they won’t do business with you. Period. As you can imagine, that’s pretty limiting. The mills who will accommodate even-length-only requests put a pretty strict limit on the volume they’ll send, according to such specifications. Of course, the smaller your order, the more the shipping costs, so the price per-foot is affected.
Another reason an order of only even-length decking costs more is that it often requires extra overhead expenses. A board that was originally 11 feet has to be cut again to make it into a 10-foot board. So if you purchase that 10-foot board, you can end up paying more than you would have for the 11-foot board, because it took more labor to produce that even-length board. The last time we checked, it didn’t make sense for us (or for our customers) to pay more for less lumber.
What Will Happen if You Have an Odd-Length Deck?
Did you realize that most homeowners’ associations will require you to pay a fee for having an odd-length deck? And most passers-by will immediately notice that something is “off”? You might even begin to notice immediate warping and rotting in your deck, simply because of the length of the boards.
Wait. I’m kidding. Nothing bad will happen if you have a deck that’s a foot longer than one you’d pay more to build. Except, maybe, that you’ll have a little more money left over to buy that high-end grill you wanted. (Wait, that’s not a bad thing at all!) Or that lounge chair. Or both. Yes, go ahead. Get both. You deserve it. And you’ll even have a little extra room on your deck to accommodate them. That sounds like a win-win to me! How about you?
If you’re intrigued by these nuances of U.S. lumber preferences, you might want to know more about the shortage of 4/4 lumber.