Monday, March 27, 2017

Low Maintenance Mahogany Decking --- Which Specie has the Best Physical and Mechanical Properties?

In our last blog, we learned that over the years clever marketing campaigns have pitched a variety of "Mahogany" species as true exterior hardwoods that stand up well to foot traffic and will endure the challenges outside for many, many years.

Today we will examine some of the mechanical properties of the various Mahogany species to see if all species are indeed created equally and find out which of the species sold as Mahogany are best suited for long-term use outdoors. In order to help us better understand the data we will also compare the species with other common decking materials such as Western Red Cedar and Redwood.


The mechanical properties of wood are those which influence the performance of the species and determine how easy the wood is to work with as well as giving us clues to how it will potentially perform in service.

By reviewing the mechanical properties, we can tell if the wood is strong enough, if the wood is hard enough and if the wood is stable enough for our project. For our review, we will work with data derived from The Wood Handbook – Wood as an engineering material, USDA, General Technical Report 113.

The mechanical properties include the following categories:

A good general indicator of a wood's strength is its density which is usually measured by specific gravity. In most cases, the higher the density is the stronger the wood will be.

The density of wood, exclusive of water, varies a great deal within and between species. Density variations within a particular species of approximately 10% should be considered normal. A wood’s weight is always partially contingent on its moisture content, so moisture should always be taken into consideration. The figures below represent the density at approximately 12% moisture content.


The hardness of a wood specie refers to how resistant a wood is to scratches, dents and other forms of abuse and tells us how long the wood can stay looking new and unmarked.

The industry standard method for determining the hardness of wood products is called the Janka hardness test. Janka hardness of a given wood species is defined by a resistance to indentation test as measured by the load (pounds of pressure) required to embed a 11.28mm or 0.444″ diameter ball to one-half its diameter into the wood. The Janka values presented are the average of penetrations on both flat grain or plain sawn and vertical grain or quartersawn boards.


The stiffness or modulus of elasticity indicates how much the wood will bend (or deflect) when a load is applied perpendicular to the grain. This will tell us how well the deck boards might resist sagging when a person walks over them.


The modulus of rupture is a measure of the maximum load carrying capacity of a given species proportional to the breaking point or maximum strength (perpendicular to the grain) as borne by the specimen.


Based on superior mechanical properties, the Batu / Red Balau species is the true star of Mahogany decking.

Batu is engineered by nature to withstand the test of time. Professional builders and do-it-yourselfers should choose Batu for it's strength, high quality and consistency. You can be confident that when you choose Batu Decking you are selecting the best high-performance Mahogany material on the market. For further information on Batu please visit

Thursday, March 23, 2017

New Forest Products Trade and Transport System Upcoming in Brazil?

The country that has the largest rainforest in the world, is also the one that has the greatest threat of deforestation and illegal logging. The Brazilian government is constantly trying to minimize deforestation by implementing programs to control logging. Since Brazil has no third-party sustainable foresting agency like other parts of the world like Indonesia, Malyasia, Canada, etc., it relies on the forest stewardship council (FSC) to certify sustainable timber extraction. This can be difficult to do with such a large organization, and while NOVA is FSC certified sustainable, there are other programs implemented to ensure legal, sustainable foresting in the Brazilian rainforest. 

In Brazil, a Forest Products Trade and Transport System (SISFLORA) is used to monitor and control the transport of forest products, including timber. Recently, an updated version of the system (SISFLORA 2.0) has been discussed to potentially replace the old system. It adopts a new system for the chain of custody reporting and will be implimented by state environmental agencies. The new system involves an extremely detailed control mechanism. In addition, the authorization process for issuing the document ‘Forest Guide’ which is required during the purchase, sale, and transport of logs and primary wood products, has become more bureaucratic. According to timber producers the new system requires too much detail, and satisfying the new requirement will be an enormous challenge. We will see what comes of this discussion, and if the government can find a way to mutually benefit the forest and foresters.

To learn more, please visit our website

Monday, March 6, 2017


When you have a cut on your finger, you stop the bleeding by reaching for a "Band-Aid" not a gauze bandage. When you need to blow your nose, you ask for "Kleenex" not tissue. If you are online and decide to look up something you "Google It" instead of searching for it.

When choosing a material for building a deck we often go by trade names that are not only no longer valid but are downright confusing. Within the building products industry, the term "Mahogany" decking is probably one of the worst culprits when it comes to misleading consumers.

Genuine Mahogany (Swietenia Macrophylla spp) is widely distributed throughout Central and South America. It has been highly valued for its woodworking qualities and natural rich red-brown beauty since traders first began shipping it to Europe in the 16th Century. It is a highly stable wood, extremely durable, easy to work with and a first choice of craftsmen for flooring, furniture, wall and ceiling paneling and high-end cabinetry. This is the original and true Mahogany wood but is rarely, if ever used for decking.

Genuine Mahogany  Flooring

In fact, Mahogany used for decking is not the Genuine Mahogany (Swietenia Macrophylla) that most consider to be the real and true species when referring to Mahogany. Instead, the so-called "Mahogany" sold as decking today is one of a variety of species normally from Brazil, Malaysia or Indonesia.

Since most homeowners choose "Mahogany" decking for its perceived hardness, rich red color, tight grain, knot-free appearance and natural resistance to rot, we thought we would analyze and access the different products on the market today.

The three main species of decking currently marketed as Mahogany Decking are as follows:
Batu / Red Balau (Shorea Guiso spp)
Batu / Red Balau is found throughout the Malay Peninsula, Indochina, Indonesia and the Philippines. The heartwood will usually range from a light to deep red brown with the sapwood being lighter in color and not always sharply demarcated. The texture of Batu is moderately fine to slightly coarse and the grain is typically interlocked. Batu is without a characteristic odor or taste and is easily identified by the presence if resin canals with white contents in concentric lines on end surfaces.

Meranti Batu Decking Wood
Cambara (Erisma Unicinatum spp)
Cambara is found throughout Central and South America from southern Mexico to Peru but most abundant in the Guianas and Brazil. The heartwood is a dull uniform pink, pinkish brown or golden brown and is not always sharply demarcated from the whitish to yellowish sapwood.  The luster of Cambara is medium to high and the texture is moderately coarse. The grain pattern of Cambara is slightly to highly interlocked and the specie is without a distinctive odor or taste.

Cambara Hardwood Decking Close Up Right Angle
Philippine Mahogany / Meranti (Major Species producing this timber include S. Stenoptera, S. acuminata (partly), S. argentifolia, S. curtisii, S. ovata, S. monticola, S. pauciflora, S. platyclados and S. slootenii.  spp)
Meranti naturally occurs in Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The heartwood color is variable from almost white to pale pink to dark red, or pale brown to deep brown and the sapwood is lighter in color and usually has a grayish tinge. The grain is usually interlocked, however certain species of Meranti can also exhibit a somewhat straight grain. Meranti's texture is coarse with a slightly lustrous surface and usually without a characteristic odor or taste.

Meranti Batu Decking Stack

Over the years, clever marketing campaigns have pitched a variety of "Mahogany" species as true exterior hardwoods that stand up well to foot traffic and will endure the challenges outside for many, many years. Unfortunately the sad reality is that not all Mahogany is created equally and that most of the species sold as Mahogany are not well suited for long-term use outdoors.

While the three species all look similar, savvy consumers who are looking to add strength, lasting beauty, and long-term value to their home should educate themselves on the physical and mechanical properties associated with each species before making a final decision on which type of Mahogany to select!

To find out more, please visit our website at

Check back in with us on our next blog as we provide a more in-depth overview on the various Mahogany species and take a look at the factors to consider prior to selecting the best species to ensure you have a durable, strong and low maintenance "Mahogany" deck.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Batu Hardwood Siding

Premium Hardwood Siding

Batu hardwood siding is a beautiful, naturally durable and competitively priced product. This article discusses various options for hardwood siding in Batu, aka Red Balau or Mahogany.

Batu Hardwood Siding 1x6 Shiplap Fineline

Choosing a Batu Hardwood Siding Pattern

There are a large number of options for hardwood siding in Batu. All of the standard WRCLA patterns, typically used for Western Red Cedar or California Redwood, are available. The most popular patterns are T&G with an edge V (either 1/4" or 1/8"), shiplap with a 1/4" fine line reveal, bevel siding with one re-sawn face, and pattern 105/106 which uses a soft radius on one edge and a hard 90 degree edge on the other side of the reveal. Samples of patterns can be provided by the leading suppliers of Batu hardwood siding.

Batu Hardwood Siding - 1/2x6 Bevel

In addition, for the custom home application, just about any pattern you can imagine can be run in our beautiful Batu hardwood material.

Batu Hardwood Siding - 1x6 Shiplap Fineline Close Up

Installation Requirements

The most critical aspect of installation of hardwood siding is to be sure the hardwood can breathe. There must be an air gap behind the siding so that moisture can quickly evaporate and will not accumulate behind the hardwood siding boards. The key requirement is the air gap which can be achieved with any of the popular rain screen systems such as Climate Shield. In many cases, installers can achieve the necessary air gap behind the boards simply by running furring strips perpendicular to the direction of the siding. 

There are certainly other critical elements of a successful installation including finishing and fastening. Finishing should be done with a high quality oil based finish including any of the finishes recommended by Nova USA Wood Products in their hardwood decking installation guide. Fastening is always best done by pre-drilling and the applying screws right through the face or with a stainless steel nail / fastener applied underneath the adjacent piece.


Yes, hardwood siding does need to be maintained, especially if finished with any of the transparent or semi-transparent oil finishes are used. How often will depend on the climate and which finish was used. We've heard of everything from once a year to once every five years. Hardwood siding with an oil finish does require more maintenance than paint - but, it is also ridiculously good looking.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Study Confirms EU Wood Consumption Has Negligible Impact On Deforestation / Nova USA

Welcome back to, the most in-depth hardwood species series on the web. Today's blog is about EU wood consumption and its impact on deforestation.

The European Commission has just released a report entitled "Comprehensive analysis of the impact of EU consumption on deforestation". The implications of the report for EU policy in relation to tropical forests and the wider forest products sector could be profound. Underlying the report seems to be a realisation that, despite years of political dialogue and funding of programs targeting deforestation, the problem remains profound.

The report takes a good hard look at just how much, and in what ways, European consumption of resources is contributing to deforestation. By doing so, it aims to ensure development of policy and legislative measures that might actually make a difference. The report is a serious piece of work, prepared with the support of the European Environment Council, the European Parliament, and the European Economic and Social Committee (although the EC is careful to point out that it is an independent study not necessarily representing their views).

The report is particularly significant because it considers, in exhaustive detail, the impact on deforestation of EU consumption of all products and services, not just those derived directly from forest management. It therefore captures, and puts into context, the large role of commercial cash crops in driving deforestation. The report uses the concept of “embodied deforestation” to link deforestation to consumption. Essentially it quantifies the area of deforestation associated with the production of any good, commodity or service. The report combines a detailed review of data on the scale and location of deforestation with an analysis of the various drivers of deforestation around the world. It then determines the volume and direction of trade flows of all commodities linked to the deforestation process. For all relevant traded commodities, the report considers both the direct (e.g. conversion of forest into agricultural land) and indirect impacts (e.g. pollution from mining activities leading to forest degradation and later forest conversion).

Working through the numbers, the report ends up attributing 200,000 hectares of total global deforestation of 232 million hectares between 1990 and 2008 to the EU's imports of wood products. This compares to 8.7 million hectares attributed to EU imports of agricultural cash crops and livestock products. The report also shows that worldwide only 33% of deforestation embodied in crops and only 8% of deforestation embodied in livestock products enters international markets.

The report confirms forcibly something that many people in the wood industry have long suspected, that policy measures in consuming countries targeting only the wood trade - whatever their merits in improving environmental and social performance in other areas - can play little or no role to prevent or slow deforestation.

Measures targeting consumption of agricultural commodities, which have long been neglected, would be more effective. But even here the value of trade-based measures in isolation is constrained by the fact that a majority of product remains within the country of origin. At the very least, the report might discourage European policy makers and environmentalists from presenting EUTR, forest certification and legality verification as a necessary and effective response to deforestation. Instead, they might be encouraged to present such mechanisms for what they are, as a demonstration of innovation and leadership by the wood industry with useful lessons that urgently need to be applied to other industrial sectors.

If you have any questions regarding this species, or any of our other products, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Asian White Oak Hardwood Flooring Spotlight - Exotic Hardwood Leader / Nova USA

Welcome back to, the most in-depth hardwood species series on the web. Today's blog is a product spotlight on the beautiful hardwood, Asian White Oak.

Asian White Oak (Quercus Mongolica) is just one of over 600 oak species in the Quercus genus. This particular oak species can be found growing throughout the easternmost parts of Asia in countries such as China, Russia, Mongolia, Korea and Japan. The color, appearance and properties of Asian White Oak are very similar to our own North American White Oak flooring (Quercus Alba). The wood is a pleasant tannish to medium brown color and will exhibit a fair amount of variation. It’s not uncommon to see hints of green, gray and pink in many of the boards. Hardness (1360), stability, grain and texture are also very similar to standard North American White Oak, all of which are optimum for use as hardwood flooring.

Asian White Oak (Quercus Mongolica)

To say that Oak is prolific is an understatement. Its 600 different species can be found throughout the entire Northern hemisphere in the form of trees and shrubs as well as deciduous and evergreen varieties. Prior to the 19th century Oak was used in the construction of Naval war ships as well as many prestigious buildings throughout Europe due to its strength and durability.

Asian White Oak Hardwood Flooring

Today it’s still commonly used around the world in all types of construction including barrels for whiskey and wine, musical instruments, roof shingles and corks. Different types of Oak are the national trees of the United States, England, Germany and Poland. Additionally, Iowa, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and Georgia have all adopted an Oak as their State tree. Bottom line, Oak is a dominant species in the world of wood and as far as flooring goes it is the benchmark for price, availability, versatility, hardness, stability and demand.

Nova USA currently stocks Asian White Oak in Solid 3.25” and 4.9” widths with lengths 1’-4’. The products are available either Smooth or Handscraped and only available Prefinished.

If you have any questions regarding this species, or any of our other products, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Cumaru (Brazilian Teak) Hardwood Flooring Spotlight - Exotic Hardwood Leader / Nova USA

Welcome back to, the most in-depth hardwood species series on the web. Decking season is just kicking in, so today's blog is a product spotlight on one of the most sought after decking hardwoods available, Cumaru.

Cumaru, also referred to as Brazilian Teak, is the lighter, color-sorted, pieces of regular Cumaru. Cumaru flooring is commonly sorted into Light and Dark shades. The Dark colored pieces are typically sold as Dark/Red Cumaru or Brazilian Chestnut while the Light colored pieces have assumed the name Brazilian Teak. In lower non-color sorted grades the species is simply referred to as Cumaru.

Light Cumaru

Dark Cumaru

Cumaru/Brazilian Teak is a beautiful tannish to dark brown color with shades of yellow and caramel throughout. The grain of the species is interlocked and wavy with a coarse texture. Cumaru is exceptionally hard with a Janka rating of 3200; 36% harder than Brazilian Cherry. From a stability stand-point Cumaru can be temperamental, especially in wider widths that are being installed in dry/arid climates. Proper installation procedures should be strictly adhered to when working with this species.

Cumaru Hardwood Decking

Of the five core flooring species imported from South America (Brazilian Cherry, Ipe, Cumaru, Tigerwood and Santos Mahogany) only Brazilian Teak offers that warm, neutral, tannish-brown color so many customers ask for. That’s not to say Brazilian Teak is more elegant, or better, than the other species, but aesthetically speaking it is in a category by itself.

Nova USA imports Cumaru/Brazilian Teak in 3/4" x 3”, 3-1/4”, 4”, & 5” widths. The product is Clear grade with 1’-7’ lengths and is available both Prefinished and Unfinished.

If you have any questions regarding this species, or any of our other products, please don’t hesitate to contact us.