Deck Design Results From the Pros

The subjects listed below are discussed in length in a series of blogs written by the experts at Brazilian Wood Depot with help and contributions from hundreds of deck installation professionals. We have incorporated the feedback and experience of thousands of hardwood deck installations into these articles. The information offered here will:

Prevent poor or improper installation,
Save you money,
Give you lots of design ideas and
Help you choose the best accessories and hardware.

You can always call the pros at Brazilian Wood Depot too.

Choose a topic from the list on the right to display the articles related to your topic.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Comparison of the Most Popular Outdoor Decking Materials

The most commonly used material for decking is pressure-treated pine because it is the most inexpensive option. This type of wood is pressure-treated to extend the life and help protect it against insect infestation. The deterioration of the building industry has caused the price of this decking lumber to decrease over the last five years because the abundance of supply as a byproduct of paper production. Consumers will find that the lowest priced PT decking is not dry, which provides for a lot of shrinkage after installation. This often causes large gaps between the boards. Kiln-dried PT decking is the highest quality and shrinks very little after installation - but the cost is higher, negating the most attractive attribute of this decking. Although pressure-treated, the life expectancy of PT decking is short and the boards tend to splinter and rot much more quickly than the other decking options.

Medium priced decking options include cedar and redwood lumber. These types of wood last longer than pressure-treated decking, but still don’t come close to the long life expectancy of real hardwood decking. Unfortunately, wood-boring bugs LOVE to eat cedar and redwood. However, deck installers find it easy to work with these soft woods because any type of fasteners can be used.

Composite decking, a combination of plastic and wood fiber pressed together, is one of the most expensive types of decking. Wood fiber is combined with plastic to help give your deck more of a wood appearance and help stiffen the boards. The boards still are not as structurally sound as wood. It is necessary to clean composite decking with a strong mildew cleaner often because the wood fibers promote mildew stains. These stains become imbedded in the boards. Also, when the moisture inside the boards freeze and expand, the boards deteriorate quickly. These boards cannot be stained, finished or refinished to revive the color as it fades.  

Plastic, PVC and other oil-based manmade materials are also used often in decking. This type of decking comes in many different profiles, thicknesses, channel designs, pressed grain patterns, colors and coatings. Manufacturers continually change their formulas to produce oil-based decking, but none of them have successfully produced decking that will not crack, fade, droop between joists or resist scratches. It cannot be finished to prevent loss of color and once the color fades, it cannot be restored. Scratches cannot be repaired. Oil-based decking is most often touted as “maintenance free” because there is no maintenance that will prevent fading, scratching and drooping between the joists. Like composite decking, oil-based manmade decking is one of the most expensive options. However, it burns VERY quickly . . . like most plastic and oil-based products.

RealWood™ Brazilian Hardwood Decking vs. Composite Decking
Hardwood decking of ipe, cumaru, purple heart, massaranduba, tigerwood and garapa are the most durable and most beautiful decking materials in the world and cost less than manmade decking. They last a life time (40 – 100 years depending on the species), bugs cannot eat it, it will never rot, and some of the species have the same fire rating as concrete. One can preserve the color by applying a protective deck oil finish periodically, and the color can be restored if it grays after several years of being untreated. You cannot restore color fading with any other decking material. Hardwood decking is some of the hardest wood on the planet and will not droop between joists when installed with proper joist spans. Scratches are easily repaired with a light sanding.   

The least expensive of Brazilian hardwoods costs slightly more than kiln-dried PT decking. Brazilian Wood Depot imports and stocks the largest variety of ipe decking, tigerwood, cumaru, and more, plus you receive expert technical assistance. As more consumers become aware of this beautiful and natural decking alternative, popularity continues to increase.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Protecting Your Deck During Harsh Winter Months

Many homeowners are concerned with how to protect their deck during the winter. As the temperature drops, wind picks up, and snow and ice begins to fall, it's only natural to be concerned with your gorgeous deck. Luckily, if you have utilized the high quality Brazilian hardwoods from Brazilian Wood Depot, then maintenance and care is relatively instinctive and easy. Take a look below for some of the key tips to keep in mind.

First, you probably know that oiling or treating hardwood can protect it over the long haul. However, you actually cannot oil your deck when it's too cold. At this point of the year, you should wait until springtime to oil your deck, and wait for consistent temperatures of above 50 degrees. This will ensure that the oil penetrates as completely as possible.

So if you shouldn't be oiling your deck in the winter, what can you do to keep it safe and sound?

One of the quick and easy ways that you can take care of your hardwood deck during the winter is by removing debris that builds up over time. This includes all of the falling leaves and branches, along with dirt and any other built up material.

When those organic substances decompose, or if they're wet and dirty, they'll leave black spots and other marks on the decking. And while those can be cleaned up, it's always better to think about easy prevention as opposed to having to fix something down the line.

Another way to take care of wood decking during the winter is to proactively remove snow and ice from your deck's surface. As this thaws, your deck can begin soaking up some of that moisture.

This leads to unfortunate consequences such as having the boards buckle if they were installed too tightly, or other warping and distorting side effects. Instead of allowing that to happen, simply brush off any snow or ice accumulation to keep your deck looking and feeling brand new.

With the right maintenance tips and guidelines such as the ones mentioned above, you'll be able to keep your hardwood deck as beautiful and strong as the day it was installed. And finally, don't forget that you shouldn't be oiling your deck until springtime when the temperature is consistently above 50 degrees.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Itauba Decking

Itauba decking is a great alternative to ipe for outdoor decking.  Itauba looks like ipe, costs much less and is easier to install.  The janka hardness is 1900 compared to 2100  for garapa and 3600 for ipe.  So, maybe you can expect only 40 years of life out of itauba instead of the 100 years we'd expect for ipe but how many lifetimes of use do you need from your decking.  Itauba has the same insect and rot resistance qualities that ipe and most other Brazilian hardwoods offer.

New itauba is light colored with some boards almost as light as pine.  Other boards are varied shades of brown and no red.  In less than 3 weeks after installation, the boards turn to the same colors of brown as ipe.  The first two photos below are ipe.  The bottom four photos are itauba - one new and three are browned to the color you should expect within 3 weeks after installation.

Itauba has a unique characteristic in that it displays "oil spots".  Less than 3% of the wood displays a few small (less than dime size) spots that look like faint oil spots.  When the boards turn brown, the spots are hardly noticeable.  The spots are not made from oil but mineral deposits in the wood.

Itauba is a fantastic ipe lookalike at a fraction of the cost.

Ipe Colors Vary
Ipe Deck with Hot Tub

Itauba Siding
Itauba Siding
Itauba 3 Weeks

Itauba New

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tatajuba Hardwood Decking

Tatatjuba Decking

Tatajuba decking lumber is another one of over 100 hardwood species that thrives in South America.  All of the species that survive in the wet climate of the long rainy seasons in South America are durable and highly resistant to rot and insects.  If the hardwood comes from South America, it is extremely durable.

Tatajuba is golden colored before being exposed to sun and weather.  It quickly turns a deep russet brown in less than 10 days after installation.  Some boards display a beautiful ribbon-like pattern and the color between boards is very consistent.  Costing considerably less than ipe, tatajuba is a very popular decking lumber.  Some find tatajuba more desirable than ipe because of the consistent color from board to board.  Ipe boards vary greatly from light brown to black to tobacco.  Tatajuba boards are also very stable making installation easy.

Tatajuba rates 2200 on the janka scale.  Ipe is at 3600, Tigerwood at 2160 and Oak at 1230.  See a comparison of other woods in the janka scale listed under the “Documents” tab at  This janka suggests that it may last 40 years while other woods like ipe, cumaru and purple heart may last as much as 100 years.

The boards below are Tatajuba before they turn color and after they turn.

Purple Heart Hardwood Decking (Roxinho)

Purple Heart decking lumber is another one of over 100 hardwood species that thrives in South America.  All of the species that survive in the wet climate of the long rainy seasons in South America are durable and highly resistant to rot and insects.  If the hardwood comes from South America, it is extremely durable.

Purple Heart is billiard table PURPLE before being exposed to sun and weather.  It quickly turns a reddish brown in less than 10 days after installation.  The grain is pronounced and there is a gentle color variation from board to board.  Costing considerably less than ipe, Purple Heart is a very popular decking lumber.  Some find Purple Heart more desirable than ipe because of the consistent color from board to board.  Ipe boards vary greatly from light brown to black to tobacco.  Purple Heart boards are also very stable making installation easy.

Purple Heart rates 3450 on the janka scale.  Ipe is at 3600, Tigerwood at 2160 and Oak at 1230.  See a comparison of other woods in the janka scale listed under the “Documents” tab at  This janka suggests that it will last as long as the most durable woods in the world like ipe and cumaru, which are rated to last up to 100 years.

Even though kiln dried, Purple Heart has a unique characteristic unlike most other hardwood decking.  The boards display light lines of sap at the grain lines, which dry up within the first 2 weeks after installation.  This sap makes the grain lines more pronounced.  Though sticky, the sap does not stick to your feet.  Oiling the boards with good deck oil like Messmers helps reduce this affect.

The boards below are Purple Heart before they turn color and after they turn.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Earth Responsible Green Building Practices

We all need to utilize our planet’s resources responsibly.  For building materials, this means focusing on using materials that meet earth responsible criteria:

  • Made from natural materials without chemicals or oil,
  • Biodegradable
  • Renewable and sustainable or it is reclaimed
The use of chemicals in building materials creates, at some point, the need to dispose of the chemical waste. By utilizing materials void of chemicals we not only avoid exposing our families but also the eventual leaching and cleanup of these dangerous elements from our environment. Using products made from oil increases the need to buy more foreign oil and oil based products which are not biodegradable and clog our landfills. Additionally, the use of oil based products increases the demand for ethanol, a low cost gasoline substitute. This demand increases the farming of soybeans, the primary ingredient used for most ethanol production. The expansion of soybean farming in Brazil is the second largest contributor to rain forest destruction following the destruction caused from low cost beef ranching.

Using biodegradable building materials is important because we don’t want the refuse from our projects to forever clog landfills.  The material should be recyclable, reusable and / or easily disposed of so that it will decay naturally without causing any impact on the environment.

Renewable materials are those that are replanted and replaced so that the continual growth of new trees is sustained.  When trees are logged, more are planted to supply trees for future building.  Oil is not renewable or sustainable.  There is a finite amount of oil on this planet.  Reclaimed material is that which is being used a 2nd time or otherwise saved from being discarded as trash.  Heart of pine flooring is removed from old structures, planed and installed in newer buildings.  Sunken logs are salvaged from the bottoms of rivers and milled into useable timbers.  Because of its durability, hardwood decking can be removed, refinished and installed again on a new deck.

There are excellent cost effective choices for decking material that demonstrate these basic green building guidelines.  Pressure treated lumber is pumped with chemicals to increase its resistance to rot and bugs and composite decking is made from oil.  However, redwood, cedar and imported hardwood decking all meet green building criteria.  Of these 3 choices, imported hardwood decking is more durable therefore the most cost effective over the life of the deck and most people agree that it is also the most beautiful decking in the world.  Hardwood lumber like ipe’, cumaru, garapa and jatoba from South America is naturally bug and rot resistant needing no chemical additives.  It’s biodegradable, it can be dismantled and used again for another deck (reusable) and the payment for the replanting of new trees is required before logging permits are granted to harvest the lumber (sustainable).

The regeneration of many ipe’ alternatives like jatoba, garapa, massaranduba, angelim and tigerwood require decades to replenish themselves rather than a century.  This is the main reason that Brazilian Wood Depot  supplies these other species.  They are all beautiful, stable and make great decking.

Being earth responsible and building a “green” deck doesn’t cost any extra money.   Hardwood decking looks better and lasts longer than any other options and it also costs less.  Every day more people are becoming aware of the value of hardwood decking.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cleaning and Refinishing Hardwood Decking

Ipe’ decking, cumaru, jatoba, massaranduba, garapa and tigerwood hardwood decking is the most beautiful decking in the world.  To maintain the color and pronounced grain patterns, you must finish the deck periodically with a good oil-based deck finish made especially for hardwoods.  Finishes that are not specifically developed for hardwoods do not penetrate the wood enough for proper protection.  We've found that Messmers hardwood oil performs better than the other options for the same price.

When ipe’ and these other decking choices are not finished, the pigment will wash out, the color will fade and the boards will gray over time.  All wood grays but the lively color of these woods can be restored.  You can use a cleaner mixed with water to brush the gray out of the decking.  Then, apply the finish.  The restoration is fantastic and the wood looks new again.

Most of these cleaners have oxalic acid as their active ingredient.  This will not harm metals, your hands, plants or concrete.  Wet the decking down with the cleaner, keep it wet for 30 minutes and then push the gray away with a brush.  Rinse off the cleaner and gray residue.  Leave this dry over night and apply the finish.  Penofin, Messmers and other companies all offer good cleaners that perform well.  Messmers offers the concentrated cleaner in a liquid, which mixes more easily with water than all of the other powder concentrates.

Here are before and after pictures of a deck that had grayed and faded.

Cleaning your hardwood deck does not require the use of a pressure washer. As a matter of fact it is recommended you do not use a pressure washer on hardwoods as they leave streaking and often tend to raise the grain giving a rough undesirable surface. They can also damage surrounding structures.  Light sanding can be done as necessary using caution to avoid removal of the color of coated screws that are not properly countersunk and also to avoid removal of the eased edges on the boards.  You do not want sharp corners on your deck boards.

Cleaning your deck lightly before reapplications of deck finish is a good idea if there is residue, stains or dirt on your deck.  Sometimes, furniture or other metal objects left on your deck will create black stains.  These are easily removed with muriatic acid.  Dilute the acid with water by 50% and dab it on the stain with a rag.  Watch it disappear and rinse it with water.  It’s that easy.  Muriatic acid will not discolor or otherwise harm your deck.

Hardwood ipe decking, purple heart, cumaru, massaranduba, garapa and tigerwood are the only types of decking that can be restored after graying.  Simply follow the cleaning steps above to remove the gray then refinish the deck after it dries thoroughly.

There are few things in life that are truly “maintenance free” retaining all of the original “like new” properties.  Hardwood decking will retain its durability if it grays but the beautiful color adds much to the wood’s allure.  It’s wonderful that the beauty of your hardwood deck can be restored if the periodic finishing has been left out for a while.