Sunday, June 11, 2017

Red Balau Deck Protection, Restoration and Maintenance

Red Balau Deck Protection, Restoration & Maintenance

Red Balau is a truly difficult wood species to pin down. It is sold under names such as Nova Batu, Lightning Brand Mahogany, ExoDek Mahogany, Mangaris and Red Balau. The actual species name is called Red Balau and belongs in the Shorea Spp. Family.

Red Balau exhibits a color, hardness, durability, and grain which is considered similar to Mahogany and is a common reason why so many home owners choose the specie for use in their outdoor living projects.

Just as other species used for decking require specific steps to keep them protected and looking stellar, so does Red Balau. If you have experienced unwanted changes in the appearance of your Red Balau deck or if you have invested the time and effort into installing a new deck, in today's blog post we will try to provide you with answers on how to properly care for and protect your investment.

Restoration Techniques for Existing Decks


As with countless other species used outdoors for decking, Red Balau requires some periodic maintenance to keep the boards well-protected and in their original state.

We understand that many homeowners have made large investments in creating their ideal outdoor living spaces. Unfortunately many homeowners have not been fully informed on what it takes to keep their investment impeccable and are truly disappointed and surprised when they witness changes occurring to their decks. Many times maintenance has been overlooked and the original look slips away over time as exposure to the elements begins to make its effects felt.

Fortunately for most homeowners an amazing attribute of this durable wood is that it can be brought back to a brand new state through time tested quality restoration techniques which can be easily carried out by the average homeowner.

Step 1 - Clean Debris off Deck Surface
The first step in Red Balau deck refinishing process consist of sweeping any loose leaves and dirt off the surface. This way we are not forcing debris into the surface pores during our next steps.

Step 2 - Power Wash
It should be noted that light pressure washing followed by re-application of oil finish will gradually darken the hardwood decking.
If you desire to bring the finish as close as possible back to original color, then a deeper pressure washing is required. For deep pressure washing, a maximum pressure of 2500 psi should be used at a distance of no less than 4” in order to avoid tearing the wood fibers.

Step 3 (optional) - Touch Sanding
Sanding with a conventional hardwood flooring sander will also bring the material back to its original unfinished color. Sand paper grits as low as 80 grit can be used on hardwood decking. It’s important to select a sander with flexible backer so that the sandpaper can follow the contour of individual boards. Higher grits such as 150-200 will wear out extremely quickly and get gummed up with oil and dirt. We recommend starting with 80 grit and only dropping lower if the deck hasn’t seen any maintenance for several years.
It is also possible to use a random orbital sander, running the handheld sander down the length of each board. This is certainly a tedious process so we strongly recommend you have knee pads and Advil at the ready. Last we checked, you could rent a floor sander from Home Depot for about the same price as a decent handheld random orbital.
Once you have sanded the deck, removing dust from the surface grain is key. Ideally another light pressure wash should do the trick and will also eliminate any remaining contaminants such as mold and algae. After this process your lumber will look as it did when you originally installed it. Your deck is now ready to be sealed with an appropriate oil base blend to protect and maintain the deck boards close to their original condition. 



Step 4 - Reapplication of Weatherizing / Protective Coating
The final step of your Red Balau deck refinishing process is application of the weatherizing or protective coating. There are a slew of products on the market that claim to protect and keep the look of your deck.

There are many things to consider when choosing a product, the most important of which is to keep in mind what the wood will look like and how easily it can be maintained in the future. The best products are penetrating sealers. We stay away from water based and film forming finishes as they look unnatural and our experience has shown that they are not easily maintainable and can become slippery when wet.

We recommend homeowners coat their Red Balau decks with a penetrating oil finish. Our experience is that oil-based finishes reach deeper into the pores of the wood's cellular structure to add protection while enhancing the grain. When applying the actual oil finish, it’s critical not to let the oil puddle up. We find it most effective to roll it on, not too heavy, and then back roll it within 2-3 minutes. Too much oil on top of the boards will not offer additional protection since it will not soak into the wood; and, too much oil will show footprints for weeks after finishing.

The coating will naturally and gradually dissipate over time. Microclimate in your area will determine when periodic maintenance is again needed, however the advantage of oil based finishes are that they can be reapplied easily.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Simple Steps for Prolonging the Life of Your Deck

Protection is vital for a prolonged beautiful appearance

Why does outdoor wood turn grey? As cherished as this natural look is, protecting it is necessary to maintain the natural physical properties like durability and strength.

The natural greying process observed when wood weathers is a complex amalgamation of natural chemical, mechanical, biological and light-induced changes which occur over time. The explanation is similar to how our skin is damaged from the sun. If we spend time outdoors without proper protection we get sunburnt and start to wrinkle. 

Similarly, because of the harmful UV rays from the sun, unprotected deck boards turn grey as time passes and start to degrade. This is why it is important to initially take measures to ensure your deck is protected and then to conduct regular on-going maintenance in order to optimize the performance of your deck.


Regular Cleaning of Your Deck

Decking can be pressure washed, but you must be careful not to damage the surface wood fibers by setting the pressure too high. Pressure washing may be necessary between oil treatments in order to remove surface discoloration.

Maximize Protection with Oil Based Deck Stains

Oil based deck stains help preserve the natural color in your deck while also offering superb UV protection. Blocking out harmful UV rays means it will keep your deck beautiful, fresh and looking new longer. These stains are easy to apply and best of all they can be cleaned and recoated as maintenance is needed. This is a huge advantage to having to strip the stain off every time it needs attention and it helps lessen the cost and hassle of deck maintenance.

Many oil based deck stains also have select mildewcides that inhibit mold, mildew, and fungal growth. Preventing these contaminants from intruding the wood will help eradicate wood rot and costly structural repairs. Unwanted moisture and fungal growth can crack, warp, split, and decay wood in a few short years.


Conclusion

Following a regular maintenance schedule will ensure the wood gets maximum protection and you get years of enjoyment from the investment in your deck.

Making the effort to apply an oil-based weatherizing treatment at the time of initial install as well as regular wood cleaning, maintenance and stain re-applications will enhance the performance of your deck boards and prolong the life of your hardwood deck.

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




Thursday, May 18, 2017

Deck Railing Options

When constructing your deck, we know meeting your dream of a beautiful and functional outdoor living space is at the heart of the design process.

A deck without a proper set of railings is a potential accident waiting to happen. To ensure safety, individual communities in the United States regulate certain aspects of construction. Most regulations are outlined by the International Residential Code, although local building authorities often add additional restrictions for their specific conditions. When you’re constructing a deck, your local building authority inspects your plans to ensure that they meet or exceed local building codes before issuing a permit

In today's market there is a wide variety of posts, top rails, frame colors, and infill options for your specification needs. Homeowners can choose traditional wood, aluminum, glass or cable railing systems for their deck. Each option gives your deck a unique look, performance and sight lines for your deck applications. You can even mix and match elements to create a look that is unique and beautiful to match your home's personality.

As you consider the best railing solution for your project, keep this in mind:

Wood Post, Handrail and Baluster Infill

Wind. Allows full air flow across the deck or balcony area.
Installation. Wood Posts, Handrail and Balusters are easy to install
Sustainability. Wood is 100% pre-consumer content and 0% post-consumer content.
Safety. Compliant with the International Building Code and International Residential Code.
The top of the handrail should be at least 34 inches but not more than 38 inches high. You can’t use a two-by-four but a two-by-two as a handrail would meet code. Some large decorative handrails are permissible, as long as their design offers a finger recess that allows secure grasping.
Balusters, the vertical guards that support the handrail, must be installed close enough that the space between them is no greater than 4 inches.
The structural integrity of the railing depends heavily on the posts that support the rail structure. These posts should be no farther apart than six feet on the flat deck and no farther apart than 5 1/2 feet on stairs.
Some balusters connect to the decking, while others connect to a bottom rail. If you’re using a bottom rail, make sure it does not sit more than four inches above the deck surface.
Maintenance. Periodic weatherizing with an oil-based deck protector is recommended. The more typical consumer application in a less extreme climate will require maintenance once every one to two years. Generally, it is advisable to re-apply the finish after six months and then repeat again annually for optimal residential decking results.

Aluminum Rail

Wind: Allows full air flow across the deck or balcony area
Install: Aluminum rail is easy to install
Sustainability: Aluminum contain varying levels of pre-consumer post-consumer content.
Safety: Compliant with the International Building Code and International Residential Code.
The top of the handrail should be at least 34 inches but not more than 38 inches high. 
Balusters, the vertical guards that support the handrail, must be installed close enough that the space between them is no greater than 4 inches.
The structural integrity of the railing depends heavily on the posts that support the rail structure. These posts should be no farther apart than six feet on the flat deck and no farther apart than 5 1/2 feet on stairs.
Bottom rail must not sit more than four inches above the deck surface.
Maintenance: Minimal. Periodic treatment with cleaner and protectant is recommended.

Wood Post and Handrail with Cable Infill

Wind. Allows full air flow across the deck or balcony area.
Installation. Cable rail is easy to install
Sustainability. Stainless steel cables contain 70% pre-consumer content and 0% post-consumer content. Wood is 100% pre-consumer content and 0% post-consumer content.
Safety. Compliant with the International Building Code and International Residential Code when vertical or horizontal cable spacing is 3 inches or less.
The top of the handrail should be at least 34 inches but not more than 38 inches high. You can’t use a two-by-four but a two-by-two as a handrail would meet code. Some large decorative handrails are permissible, as long as their design offers a finger recess that allows secure grasping.
The structural integrity of the railing depends heavily on the posts that support the rail structure. These posts should be no farther apart than six feet on the flat deck and no farther apart than 5 1/2 feet on stairs.
Maintenance. Minimal. Periodic treatment with a stainless steel cleaner and protectant is recommended. Occasional cable tightening is a routine procedure.
For the Wood Posts and Handrail, periodic weatherizing with an oil-based deck protector is recommended. The more typical consumer application in a less extreme climate will require maintenance once every one to two years. Generally, it is advisable to re-apply the finish after six months and then repeat again annually for optimal residential decking results.

Tempered Glass

Wind. Offers a full or partial wind break, which can be a consideration in coastal projects.
Transparency. Can be modulated from clear to custom tinted, helping manage light flow and privacy.
Environmental impact. Clear tempered exterior glass panels can prove to be a hazard to birds. 
Durability. Tempered laminated glass can be specified for varying safety and security levels.
Maintenance. Requires periodic cleaning, though higher quality glass can help reduce cleaning time and frequency.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Distressed Bark Beetle Panels

Between 1996-present, Canada and parts of America have been plagued by a tiny killer, eliminating 723 million cubic metres of pines, equating to 53% of the total volume of pine trees in Canada. 



Image Source

Although this scene may look aesthetically pleasing (thank the natural beauty of North America for that), all the red trees you see are pines that have died, and this view goes on for thousands of miles. 

What has caused this endemic? A tiny, 5mm Mountain Pine Beetle. It has impacted 8 million hectares of forest  by burrowing into the wood of pine trees and spreading a Blue Stain Fungus, eventually killing the tree. Though the timber is perfectly usable, there was a general consensus that the bluish tinge of the wood would make it economically undesirable. Customers would assume that due to the fact that the lumber was affected by a fungus and bored into by beetles that the wood would be weak and unusable. Lodgepole pine lumber is relatively expensive, so the loss of such an asset was detrimental economically. 



Image Source


Some companies, chiefly Sustainable Lumber co., have thought of a marketing solution to remedy the lack of demand for beetle kill lumber. They are selling this tainted wood as "Beetle Kill Pine" at $7 per square foot. Some companies are even building instruments like Ukulele's out of the blue stained timber due to its distinct beauty. 

These companies are utilizing the aesthetically pleasing properties of the beetle kill pine to their advantage. This Beetle Kill Pine has a depth to it that makes each board unique, creating an overall distinct look. Just another way that marketing can affect the public's outlook on a certain look of wood while promoting sustainability by using wasted timber! 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Transparent Wood, the Wood of the Future!

Scientists at the University of Maryland, as well as a researchers at Sweden's KTH Royal Institute of Technology have managed to create transparent wood; that is, wood with the lignin chemically removed. This transparent wood has all the structural properties of wood, but is able to pass through rays of light! This transparent wood could have the potential for many industrial uses, mainly as a plastic or glass alternative.

While this product is still in its development stages, it has the potential to be a great substitute to plastic. Plastic is a massive polluter all over the world, whereas this transparent wood has proven to degrade better than plastic, meaning plastics will be kept out of oceans and landfills.

Currently it is only 85% transparent, but since it is in its development stages, it is believed that the transparency can be increased over time in order for it to be used as windows. It has also proven to be more insulating than glass. Having a load-bearing window that would never crack or shatter is an extremely useful innovation for safety and security in your home.

Architects are very excited about this product, as they will be able to build structures with the same strength as lumber but will bring more light into buildings. Researchers also add that it could be used to create new types of solar panels, made out of wood instead of chemically treated glass.

This amazing innovation will hopefully be even more advanced in the months to come. We'll keep you updated on this product as more information becomes available, and more breakthroughs emerge, right here on NOVA!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

FIRE RATED DECKING

Protecting your family from fire and smoke is a top priority for today’s homeowners, architects and contractors. Whether the project is new construction or remodel, the goal of the overall design should be to reduce the spread of flames and smoke during a fire emergency.

Over the past few years, many county planning and building departments have adopted more strict guidelines in the use of fire rated hardwood decking. This is especially true in drier climates such as California, Nevada, Arizona, Eastern Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Utah.

Nova is the leading importer of fire rated exterior hardwood decking. Our Batu, Ipe and Cumaru  decking have all been independently tested and shown to meet or exceed the  Class-A Fire Ratings for use in areas of the country that require exterior wood decking with low flame spread ratings.

Types of Fire Protection

There are two primary forms of fire protection for buildings: passive and active.

Active fire protection is used to aggressively battle the spread of the fire and includes automatic sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers, standpipes, etc. There are also several additional active fire protections aimed at specific parts of a building.

Passive fire protection limits the transfer of heat or smoke from one area of a building to another through fire resistant construction. An excellent example of an option most building owners consider for passive firewall protection is Fire Rated Hardwood Decking. 

During fire emergencies, passive fire protection shields those inside and defends the structure by limiting the spread of fire and smoke. While passive fire protection is usually invisible to the occupants, its significance in saving lives and protecting property is clear when a fire occurs.

Passive fire protection stops the spread of fire and smoke. It can also prevent the collapse of the building. When fire-resistant construction is properly done and maintained, a building's passive fire protection can save the building and lives.

Batu Hardwood Decking – Class A Fire Rated

The Class A designation is not easy to achieve for an exterior wood decking product. We were surprised to discover that our Batu outperformed higher density woods such as Ipe and Cumaru. And in comparison to softwood decking materials, our Batu wood decking has a rating that exceeds other soft woods by as much a five times.        

Due to the naturally occurring silica found within the wood, our Batu decking meets all of the most popular fire rating criteria - and, we have the test results to prove it!

Our fire rated Batu hardwood decking meets or exceeds: Section 709A, 2010 California Building Code, Chapter 7A; San Diego County Building Code, Section 26.3.6.2.1. United Laboratories of Canada, CAN/ULC-S102.2-10.

Flame Spread Graph of Batu vs. Red Oak Decking


The chart shown above illustrates the flame spread of our Batu fire rated decking in comparison to Red Oak lumber. Untreated soft wood lumber will have even lower ratings compared to Red Oak.

Ipe and Cumaru Fire Rated Decking

Nova's fire rated Ipe and fire rated Cumaru decking has also been tested. While not quite as fire resistant as the Batu, both Ipe and Cumaru hardwood have very low flame spread ratings and meet Cal Fire, San Diego County and ASTM-84-10 specifications. Most industry publications show these high density hardwoods as Class-A Fire Rated. Please refer to these individual publications for further information. The USDA Wood Handbook is one of the best sources for information of this type.

Conclusion


Preparing for the possible outbreak of fire in a building with fire-resistant construction is a critical consideration for architects, contractors and the owners of the structure.  A combination of fire protection methods when building or remodeling is the best defense for protecting a structure and those inside from the spread of fire and smoke.

The goal of both passive and active fire protection is to protect lives and the building. An excellent option for passive firewall protection is Class-A Fire Rated Hardwood Decking.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Weatherizing and Stain Options for Hardwood Decking

Today there are a variety of different species of domestic and imported wood used for outdoor decking.


While the most common decking materials traditionally found here in North America are still domestic species such as Cedar, Redwood and pressure treated Southern Yellow Pine, we are now seeing more exotic hardwoods begin to become mainstream.

Woods such as IpeCumaru, Batu, Brazilian Redwood and Angelim Pedra are very sought after by savvy homeowners who are constantly looking for the most beautiful, high performance deck that will give them the best value for years to come. To learn more about these premium hardwood decking species please visit http://www.novausawood.com/downloads.aspx


All forms of wood decks are subject to wear and tear from the elements and need to be weatherized / protected with a deck stain or sealer. The imported exotic hardwoods now popular for exterior decking have different characteristics from more common domestic softwood species used and hence require a tailor made solution.

Today we will look at the two main "Weatherizing" and "Stain" options for Imported Hardwood Decking




Oil-Based vs Water-Based Weatherizing/Stain Options


Because of the extreme density of an exotic hardwood, the cellular structure of the boards is less permeable and therefore requires special formulations which have been specifically designed with unique penetrating abilities. Regular types of deck stain lack the ability to penetrate the dense wood and will not sink-in deeply enough --- meaning they will under perform and not last very long.


When selecting a hardwood deck stain look for oil-based formulations with special penetrating capabilities and some pigmentation or tinting. Special oils are used in hardwood stains that are able to dive deeply into the dense hardwood and help condition the wood fibers. With more VOC compliant formulas designed to penetrate better and last longer, the newest generation of oil based deck stains are the best choice for do-it-yourselfers and professional contractors alike. Pressure washing may be necessary prior to reapplying an oil treatments in order to remove surface particles, dirt and any discoloration.

Most water-based stains lack the deep penetrating ability and instead will merely form a thin film or remain on top of the wood's surface and do not provide any deep protection. These water-based formulations are not recommended as they are prone to peeling and are more challenging when it comes time to re-apply your stain, usually requiring re-sanding.

It is recommended to avoid the use of varnishes, lacquers or other clear finishes, because they magnify UV degradation and over time will yellow, crack, peel and generally fail. These types of finishes are usually difficult to remove and cannot be easily re-applied without re-sanding.

***NOTE: Finishing on the underside of your deck will reduce potential cupping by inhibiting moisture from absorbing into the wood.

Conclusion


Besides making the effort to apply an oil-based weatherizing treatment at the time of initial install please keep in mind that regular wood cleaning, maintenance and stain re-applications will enhance the performance of your boards and prolong the life of your hardwood deck.

For best results, apply the weatherizing treatment according to the manufacturer’s directions.