Making Tropical Decking Boards Look Magazine Picture Perfect.
As we began discussing in Part 1, a decking board is not a finished wood product. Tropical decking especially must endure a lot of moving before it’s finally at your job site. A good cleaning isn’t all a decking board needs, though.
Smoothing Out Rough Spots and Raised Grain
Many factors contribute to a not-quite-smooth surface of a newly installed deck. For one thing, there can be tear out around where knots or swirls in the grain occur. When boards have been sawn against the grain, that resulting rough spot will need to be smoothed out.
Vertical grain or quartersawn boards will have rough spots, too, caused by harder fibers and intersecting growth rings that remain raised above the remaining surface of the board; this phenomenon is especially noticeable with species such as Ipe and Cumaru.
The ideal solution is to use a hand-held belt sander or random orbital sander after installation. Not only will those raised areas become smooth, but dirt and grime will be eliminated, as well. The thickness across the entire deck will not be noticeably different, either.
Resting and Acclimating After a Long Journey
Because of the dramatic changes in climate and moisture content that tropical decking endures en route from the forest to your job site, it needs time to achieve equilibrium. There’s really no short cut to attaining acclimatization. The process may range for a few days to several weeks, depending on the difference in climate. Failing to take this need into consideration can lead to a botched installation that results in buckling or cracking boards.
Even acclimated boards will move, but when the boards at least start out in a stable condition, installation will be much less difficult. The longer and wider the board, the greater the evidence of bend and bow a board will exhibit, but without allowing for the time the tropical decking board needs to rest prior to being installed, a board will exhibit even more movement.
Applying Cleaning and Brightening Products
Giving the lumber time to come to an equilibrium with your job site’s environment and then sanding after installation will go a long way toward making tropical decking boards into finished products. However, a third step is necessary. Water stains, mineral deposits, and varying color can best be alleviated with a mild abrasive cleanser that’s able to remove baked-on dirt and grime which a pressure washer won’t be able to remove.
A brightening product can then be applied to the clean deck. Basically, a brightening product uses acid to lighten the deck and remove graying that has already occurred due to UV exposure. Some decking boards may require only a cleaner, and not a brightener; if you’re not sure, you may want to let the deck get a few days’ sun and then re-evaluate the need for a brightener. Typically, brighteners are also used years after installation in order to refresh the appearance of a deck.
J. Gibson McIlvain supplies deck cleaner and brightener in order to assist customers in producing decks that showcase the beauty of the tropical decking boards.