Saturday, April 7, 2018

Preparing Your Deck for Spring

As patio weather fast approaches, you may be tempted to pull out the patio furniture and enjoy your time in the sun. However, if you spent your hard-earned cash on a beautiful Ipe, Batu or Cumaru deck, you're going to want to remove stains, dirt, and grime to reap the full benefits of this beautiful wood.

1) Power wash properly.
If power washing, use a fan tip at a suitable distance from the deck, and wash along the grain of the board so as not to damage the wood.

2) Clean the gaps in between the deck boards.
Any organic matter left to decay may cause discolouration, premature rot, warping or twisting. This is especially true for softer woods like pine.

3) Apply the right re-finishing to your deck.
To get a deep and rich colour in your deck, apply a finishing. We suggest using ExoShield Exterior Wood Tung Oil Finish.

ExoShield offers superior protection for exterior wood applications such as decking, siding and furniture. Our secret formula protects your project while allowing the natural beauty of the wood to remain the focus. Using a proprietary blend of Tung Oil, Fungicide, and Trans-oxide pigments, the exclusive ExoShield formula provides long-lasting penetrative protection for exterior wood applications while using only the finest components. The Tung Oil used in ExoShield Deck Finish contributes to provide a naturally water-resistant, acid-resistant, and easy to use deck finish. It also greatly reduces the chances of boards either cracking or warping when correctly applied.

Fungicide is an essential component to maintaining the timeless beauty of your exterior wood project. ExoShield Wood Stain not only offers protection from harmful UV rays and water damage, but it also includes a fungicide in the formula that will keep your decking, siding or outdoor furniture in top shape, and fungi free. This is just another reason why ExoShield is the answer for all exterior wood applications. We use trans-oxide pigments and UV blockers in ExoShield to protect your deck from harmful UV rays, adding to the longevity of the structure and color. The pigments used in ExoShield Deck Finish will bring out and protect the natural colors of the wood it’s used on, providing a long-lasting vivid result. ExoShield will lengthen the lifespan of the wood's color, delaying the graying process. When applied every one to two years, your deck will maintain a nearly brand-new appearance, with very little maintenance. For high density hardwoods such as Ipe, Cumaru & Batu, you should expect to get 600 to 800 SF of coverage per gallon

4) Properly apply the deck finishing. 
Applying our ExoShield oil-based wood stain has been made easy for any user. Whether it be a homeowner or a contractor, anyone can correctly apply ExoShield.

Preparation. In order to correctly apply ExoShield wood finish, the first step is obtaining a very clean and smooth surface. Be sure to scrub the wood thoroughly removing all grime, dust, and any mildew that may exist. Standard consumer grade exterior wood cleaners are available from both Messmer's and Deckwise. They are a combination of Sodium Percarbonate / Sodium Carbonate Peroxyhydrate and Soda Ash / Sodium Carbonate - when mixed with water, the cleaning solution can be applied to the wood's surface with a garden chemical sprayer. After soaking in for 5-10 minutes, the material should be thoroughly scrubbed with a stiff-bristle broom or brush and then rinsed thoroughly. It may take a two to three applications in order to remove several years worth of dirt and mildew, and fully restore the original color of the natural wood.
Many species of high density hardwood contain a high degree of tannins and tannic acid. These hardwoods include Ipe, Cumaru and Batu, as well as many others. As the final step before treatment with ExoShield, we recommend that a wood brightener is applied. Standard consumer grade wood brighteners are also available from both Messmer's and Deckwise. The brightener comes in powdered form again and consists of Oxalic Acid / Oxalic Acid Dihydrate. After applying the cleaner and or brightener, be sure to let the wood dry out completely which will usually take 2-3 days.
Even when finishing fresh wood, a completely dry surface is required. Do not finish your wood project with ExoShield unless you have had a minimum of 2-3 days of dry weather and do not expect rain within 24-48 hours. If the wood's surface does get wet soon after finishing, you will likely get water spots on the surface which must be sanded out prior to a light refinishing with ExoShield. After finishing, you should avoid contact with the wood's surface for at least 48 hours. ExoShield will take up to two weeks to fully cure to its final hardness. Many projects require some degree of sanding especially if they have aged more than a few years. In addition, if there are areas that have been badly weather-beaten or contain loose fibers, a light sanding using 80-100 grit sandpaper is necessary to smooth out the surface and remove unwanted blemishes.

For more information on ExoShield or to find out how to purchase a gallon for your deck, please visit us at

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Choosing the Right Finish for Your Wood Deck

Outdoor living has become increasingly popular as more and more people strive to make their decks and gardens an extension of their home's interior.

With this trend, wood decks have become an increasingly important part of residential construction. A beautiful deck design complimented by well thought out landscaping adds versatile living space to a home and, with minimal maintenance, provides decades of use and enjoyment.

In order to be durable for the long-term, all decks (whether wood, plastic or composite) need to be properly installed and maintained as they are constantly exposed to severe weather conditions. With wooden decks the exposure to severe weather naturally causes the boards to shrink and swell the wood and subjects the deck boards to high levels of stress. 

Without proper maintenance, even the most well built wood decks utilizing only the most hearty of wood species can potentially  develop problems such as checks and cracks, raised grain, and mildew, thus increasing the risk of decay and insect attack as the natural process of weathering occurs.

Because of these risks, lumber used in decks is usually pressure treated with a preservative, or is a naturally durable wood such as Ipe, Batu, Cumaru, Redwood or Western Red Cedar.

Regularly applying an additional finish to wood decks has been proven to be the most cost-effective way to prolong the life of your deck and minimize the problems of cracking, raised grain, and mildew growth.

A penetrating oil-based finish applied to wood decks provides better overall performance and is easier to reapply than a film-forming finish (e.g., paint, solid-color stain).

In addition to the continuous shrinking and swelling of the wood caused by changes in the moisture content, film-forming finishes are subjected to excessive wear, especially in high-traffic areas. For these reasons, penetrating finishes, not film-forming finishes, should be used on wood decks.

We at Nova USA Wood recommend the use of ExoShield on your wood deck. ExoShield offers superior protection for exterior wood applications such as decking, siding and outdoor furniture. The secret ExoShield formula protects your project while allowing the natural beauty of the wood to remain the focus.

Using a proprietary blend of Tung Oil, Fungicide, and Trans-oxide pigments, the exclusive ExoShield formula provides long-lasting penetrative protection for exterior wood applications while using only the finest components. Our own installation guides for exterior hardwood require that you use an oil-based protective finish, which is why we are proud to offer the very best exterior wood finish on the market.

For more information on ExoShield or to find out how to purchase a gallon for your deck, please visit us at

If you have any questions before starting your deck finishing / refinishing project please do not hesitate to contact us. Our in-house experts have plenty of personal experience using these products and will be glad to offer you their insights.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Puzzling Decline in Demand for Forest Product Innovation

Why is wood product demand declining, yet forests and the forestry industry are the one thing that holds the key to reversing global warming due to wood's carbon sequestration properties? We are increasingly substituting goods with plastic due to its cheap nature, regardless of the damaging effect plastics have on our environment during the production processes, and regardless of the damaging effect plastics have on the environment post-use.


This decline in forestry product demand, despite a growing attention to sustainable forest management and the bio-economy expecting to increase forest innovation, is leaving industry experts concerned. 

Wood products can now be innovated into lighter, more flexible material than plastic. Take for example the work being done at University of Toronto, whose forestry faculty is designing wooden car parts.

Car part moulded from wood pulp that is lighter, stronger, and heat resistant//Laura Pedersen//National Post

Why, then, are we substituting harmful plastic composites for natural wood products? 

We must once again learn to put our faith in wood, because if people aren't supporting forestry products, then we lose the forest. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Pando- The Largest Living Organism in the World

A stand of Populus tremuloides, commonly named Trembling Aspen, has been found to be the largest living organism on earth. No, it isn't the tallest or the biggest tree, it is in fact is a stand of trees spreading over an area of 43 hectares (106 acres). This collection of 47,000 genetically identical stems is said to be one living organism because every stem shares a collective root system. Though the individual trees average at 130 years old, the root system is 80,000 years old, also making it the oldest living organism in the world. You can visit this stand at the Fishland National Forest in Utah.

Image source

Unfortunately, Pando is currently thought to be dying according to ecologists at Utah State University. The exact cause is unknown, whether it be drought stress, disease, insects, elk grazing, or climate change. Restoration is underway to help stimulate new stem growth and preserve this natural wonder.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Mill Glaze....Myth or Fact?

Installing and protecting your new deck correctly from the outset will ensure enjoyment for years to come while preventing the need for premature deck refinishing, repair or replacement.

The condition called "mill glaze" (also called planer's glaze) has frequently been blamed for the failure of a coating on decking, siding and various other wood products. This failure of the coating can potentially lead to problems such as cracking, raised grain, mildew growth and wood rot.

Some contractors claim you should begin the process of deck protection by refreshing new surfaces with a mild surface sand to remove so-called "mill glaze" while opening up the grain.

The exact cause of "mill glaze" has been a subject of controversy. Many believe that the coating fails as a result of the planing and/or drying processes. They speculate that incorrect milling or planning of boards overheats the wood. The overheating of boards is usually attributed to dull planer blades and the claim is that this overheating opens the pores and actually brings water-soluble extractives to the surface, creating a hard varnish-like glaze.

The remedy for this "mill glaze" is to gently re-surface the boards with a light touch sanding which will clean and brighten the wood while allowing for the opening of the wood's pores. This is important because it will thus assist in the absorption of an oil-based finish to help in the prevention of algae, mold, and mildew attacking your deck boards. 

In a 2013 article Mark Knaebe of the USDA Forest Products Laboratory noted that he had tried to duplicate mill glaze in the laboratory. The tests he conducted included planing lumber with dull blades at high input speeds.

Despite their best efforts the staff at the Forest Products Lab were unable to create a "glazed" surface. This result does not necessarily mean that mill glaze is not real or cannot merely means that in this instance the researchers from the USDA were unable to duplicate the effect of "mill glaze" in the laboratory.

Although no further research on "mill glaze" effect has been conducted at the USDA Forest Products Laboratory , they did investigate a number of reported mill glaze failures. In all cases, the failures were readily explained by other failure mechanisms, including raised grain, degradation of the wood surface by ultraviolet (UV) radiation prior to painting, insufficient thickness of the coating system, improper surface preparation, and moisture problems.

Protect your investment and do it right the first time! Remember, installing and protecting your new deck correctly from the outset will ensure enjoyment for years to come while preventing the need for premature deck refinishing, repair or replacement.  

Please join us in our next blog as we continue to examine some causes of failures in wood coatings and offer suggestions on how to correctly install your deck and apply additional coatings/finish that will protect your investment and minimize the problems of cracking, raised grain, and mildew growth.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Best Installation Practices for Hardwood Decking

“What's the use you learning to do right when it's troublesome to do right and ain't no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same?” ― Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

We sometimes encounter a homeowner who calls us to complain regarding a problem they are having with the performance of  their deck boards. Most often the time the problem is caused by neglecting to follow correct installation instructions and/or build their hardwood deck closer to the ground than we recommend in our installation guidelines.

The best policy is to always follow correct practices to ensure a project's success. The primary reason a hardwood deck usually fails is due to INCORRECT INSTALLATION.

There are a number of critical steps that a homeowner or builder should follow in order to ensure a deck is correctly and successfully installed...

Width of material

  • Build your deck so that the surface is at least 16” above the ground when using 1x4 or 5/4x4 decking material.
  • When using 1x6 or 5/4x6, the deck must be constructed a minimum of 36” off the ground.

Ventilation / Air Flow

  • There must be adequate air circulation underneath the deck in order to prevent cupping and warping of boards.
  • When designing your deck, ensure you provide a minimum 50% open space below your deck for proper ventialtion
  • In close to ground applications, 60” or less above ground, a vapor barrier and pea gravel is necessary to inhibit the possibility of water pooling and allowing moisture to absorb into the underside of the decking boards. 

Spacing between boards

  • You must allow space for your deck boards to expand when they take on moisture, as they will inevitably do when exposed to wet weather, rain or high humidity.
  • The final spacing should be at 1/4” if you have kiln dried material with a moisture content in the 10-12% range and relative humidity in the 35-45% range. If you are installing during very dry conditions and the boards are measuring in the 6-8% range, then you should add 1/16” additional spacing so that your deck can handle higher humidity and rain. 
  • If you are installing Air Dried Decking (such as Ipe) with a high moisture content in the 16-18% range, a spacing between boards of 3/16” is appropriate to ensure that the material does not gap too much in dry weather.
  • There is a specific science behind the required gap which is a function of the exact wood species, the beginning moisture content of the wood and the dry and wet extremes you want your deck to handle. In most cases, you should plan for 100% humidity levels and expect that the deck boards will expand to their maximum amount at the fiber saturation point of the wood. The dry side of the equation has more variability since many areas of the country have typical minimum humidity levels. You don’t need to plan for bone dry conditions in the Southeastern United States, for example; but you certainly do need to plan for bone dry conditions in Arizona and Central California.


  • Several different options are available for fasteners and for fastening techniques. We recommend stainless steel screws through the face of every board, two screws per joist.
  • Self-tapping stainless steel screws are available but may require pre-drilling.
  • Pre-drilling is always required on the ends of the boards.
  • We do not recommend the use of nonstainless fasteners since they will cause discoloration near the fastener. Do not use carbon-steel screws.
  • Do not use deck clips, hidden fasteners, or any other mechanical fastening systems, including those which fasten from the underside or edges of the boards. Despite manufacturers’ claims, we have determined that these products do not provide adequate anchoring of hardwood deck boards to the substructure. 

End Sealer

Nova Decking is always end-sealed during manufacturing to help prevent splitting and checking on the ends of boards.

We require that the boards are end-sealed as soon as reasonably possible after cutting during installation.

A clear, water-resistant wax should be used. One such product is Anchorseal from UC Coatings, although several other products are available.

Weatherizing & Sealing / Finishing 

In order to help prevent the potential for surface checking, cupping and discoloration caused by the nature, we require that Nova Decking be finished on all four sides with an appropriate and sufficiently-pigmented oil-based product.

Especially in dry, sunny conditions, finishing must be done prior to exposure to weather. Finishing Nova Decking on the underside of your deck will reduce potential cupping by inhibiting moisture from absorbing into the wood.

For best results, apply the treatment according to the manufacturer’s directions. To maintain the natural color, a high quality penetrating oil finish with UV inhibitors should be used.

The only reason a hardwood deck fails when close to the ground is INCORRECT INSTALLATION. Nova’s warranty is against rot and decay - it does not cover shrinkage and expansion.

For additional information regarding best installation practices visit our website

If you need further information please do not hesitate to call the experts at Nova for assistance.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Plantation Grown Mahogany Decking - Separating Fact from Fiction

We have recently witnessed a strong marketing campaign urging consumers to make the choice of utilizing plantation-grown Mahogany (i.e. Swietenia Macrophylla) decking when planning their new deck or outdoor living areas.

Homeowners are told that they will be purchasing a beautiful, durable product with superior stability and have the assurance that the deck boards are sourced from 100% sustainable plantation timber. Today we examine the subject and try to separate fact from fiction.

Environmentally Friendly

The plantation Mahogany does not come from rainforests but from tree farms planted by local Fijians after World War 2. Today the Fijian government manages these Swietenia Macrophylla hardwood forests through regulations crafted to prevent over-harvesting and establish the framework for growth cycle with minimal biological impact.

While it is certainly verifiable that the Mahogany sold is grown in plantations, the question of sustainability is still up in the air. Unlike plantation-grown Teak, Pine and Eucalyptus forests found throughout Asia, Africa and South America, the plantation grown Mahogany is neither FSC nor PEFC Certified.

While no third-party certification is yet available, plantation-grown Mahogany from Fiji has already taken some important first steps towards sustainability, recently receiving CITES clearance for export and beginning the certification process with Smartwood/FSC (Forest Stewardship Council). 

Low Movement in Service

Mahogany from Fiji shows extremely low overall shrinkage with regards to volume and dimensions during the drying, but what truly makes it the best for keeping shape is the close to 1:1 ratio of radial (measured in the direction between the center of the tree and the bark) to tangential (measured in the direction of the circumference) shrinkage. This scientific ratio is the determining factor in woods’ resistance to warping and cupping.

According to information provided by distributors of Fijian Mahogany, homeowners should allow a 3/16″ gap between board widths on 4″ (3-1/2”net) wide decking, and a 1/4″ gap between board widths on 6″ (5-1/2”net) wide decking for drainage, airflow and expansion.  

Natural Durability and Termite Resistance

According to the USDA Forest Products Laboratory plantation-grown Mahogany heartwood rates as durable in resistance to a brown-rot and a white-rot fungus. The heartwood of the species is also moderately resistant to dry-wood termites but offers little resistance to attack by marine borers.

While it is true that the heartwood of Mahogany may be durable, the sapwood is not suitable for any level of outdoor exposure. It has been shown that Mahogany sapwood is susceptible to wood-boring insects like termites and readily decays when left exposed to the outside elements.

Preservative Treatment for Extra Protection

Due to the less than ideal natural durability of the species, the plantation grown Mahogany decking that is imported from Fiji is pre-treated with MCA to resist decay or termite attacks and generally to prolong the life span of the sapwood. While clever marketers have claimed that any sapwood that exists will absorb the MCA or MCQ treatment to ensure longer life span and protect against degradation of the Mahogany deck boards, the USDA Forest Products Laboratory has clearly stated that "Both heartwood and sapwood of Genuine Mahogany are resistant to impregnation with preservatives".

Furthermore, information from the National Pesticide Information Center advises that Micronized copper wood treatments are merely new versions of the previously banned ACQ and CA formulations. The main difference in these new versions is the use of very small particles of solid copper, usually copper carbonate, rather than soluble copper in the solution being injected into the wood. The small size of the copper particles in these products allows them to stay suspended in the solution being injected into the wood. However, their small size may also affect their potential to leach from the wood. The potential health and environmental risks of these formulations may be affected by the size of the copper particles being used in the product. For more information on MCA treatment please click here

Not everyone thinks that MCQ is effective. In an interview with Professional Deck Builder Magazine, MCA treatment manufacturer MicroPro came under attack from Viance (800-421-8661, Viance makes Ecolife, a nonmetallic, carbon-based preservative, as well as ACQ, but it does not manufacture MCQ. Based on findings from a field test done by Viance (and verified by a third party), that company has claimed the MCQ formula does not provide adequate protection against premature decay, particularly in ground-contact wood.

“The decay we found was due to brown and white rot fungi, two common decay-type microbes. It’s our theory that the solid, essentially insoluble copper in MCQ is chemically bound and not available in an ionic form, as the soluble copper in ACQ is. Because of this, we don’t think that MCQ is as effective at preventing these organisms. We’re also concerned that the copper in MCQ doesn’t enter the cell walls during treatment, and so won’t be as effective at controlling what’s called soft rot. However, this rot takes two to three years to develop and our test only ran for about 10 months.”

The crux for the consumer is whether there’s substance to Viance’s findings of premature decay in MCQ-treated wood.

Potential Corrosive Nature of Preservative Treatment on Deck Hardware

According to an article found in ProfessionalDeck Builder Magazine the greatest interest to deck builders, perhaps, is that these deck boards treated with MCA and MCQ micronized formulas are said to be less corrosive. The manufacturers claim that aluminum and standard G-90 galvanized hardware can be used in direct contact with micronized copper–treated lumber. The reason is that the copper carbonate used in MCQ and MCA produces relatively few copper ions. This is not the case with ACQ and CA, with which aluminum contact is forbidden, and hardware has to be either the thicker, more expensive G-185 galvanized or stainless steel.

That said, while Simpson Strong-Tie (800/999-5099,, a major manufacturer of framing hardware, acknowledges that while MCQ is less corrosive than ACQ or CA, it still continues to recommend the use of G-185 or stainless steel hardware with MCQ.

Framing Considerations

While Fijian Mahogany specie is the same as South American Mahogany, some people note that the material is slightly softer and less strong. The difference is due to the quick plantation growth.  The fiber is of a lower quality with large growth rings, pin knots and bleached color and is much easier to dent and prone to bend/break when force is applied.

According to information provided on the websites of distributors of plantation-grown Fijian Mahogany the Span requirements are either 12" or 16" on center for 1x4, 16" for 1x6 and 18" on center for 5/4x4 and 5/4x6 decking. When compared to other hardwood decking products such as Batu, Cumaru or Ipe (which all require spans of 16″ on center for 1x4 and 1x6 decking and 24” on center for 5/4x4 and 5/4x6 decking) this adds up to a considerable amount of extra time and money spent on framing to prepare for a plantation Mahogany deck.


While plantation grown Mahogany is indeed the same specie as Genuine Mahogany and offers beauty and good stability, the jury is still out on product claims of its suitability for decking use due to its relative softness, questionable durability and long-term sustainability.

We at Nova are ourselves still studying the species further to better determine the long term prospects for plantation grown Mahogany Decking before providing a definitive statement on the specie's suitability for decking.

In the end, when analyzing the blur of decking products and brands that are out there, it is up to the individual consumer to review all the relevant facts and decide on an established product which has been time-tested and which suits the home owner's particular needs.

Educate yourself and use wisely your power of choice....

If you have any questions about which specie may be best for your particular deck project please contact the experts at Nova