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


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 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.


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

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.


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. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Benefits of Wood as a Sustainable Building material (part 3)

Most industry experts would agree that using timber in construction is the most sustainable building product out there. Not only does it add warmth and character to your home, its raw beauty is furthered by the fact that not only is it natural, but sustainable and eco-friendly. Below are some of the ways you are aiding the environment by using wood. 

Wood is an excellent insulator. It loses heat 8x lower than glass, 15x lower than concrete, and 390x lower than steel. By using wood as a building product, you are not only making your home a more comfortable one to live in, but are also helping the environment by reducing your need to cool and heat the house. Wood is also biodegradable, making it a great reusable resource. Saying so, wood is still durable and can last almost indefinitely if protected from insects, bacteria and fungi, or if it is treated with finishes. Therefore, it is still a long-lasting, and eco-friendly choice as a building material.

Wood products are an excellent way to sequester carbon. When measuring Green House Gas emissions, some of the most common gasses are CO2, carbon dioxide, O, ozone, and CH4, methane. Green house gasses are measured for simplicity in CO2e, carbon dioxide equivalents. This takes into consideration not only CO2, but other green house gasses such as ozone and methane. For reference, CO2 has a global warming potential of 1, and methane has a global warming potential of 25. Methane, as you may know, is produced by cows, and the pollution cows provide is vastly more than that of CO2 production. The amount of CO2 in our atmosphere has raised from 280 ppm (parts per million) to about 380 ppm at present, and 430 ppm of CO2e’s. Therefore, at present, the main concern to reducing our green house gas emissions is to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

One of the ways of decreasing the amount of atmospheric CO2 is to sequester it. Sequestration of carbon can be achieved through the increase of carbon stores within natural building products, such as lumber, and other plant-based products. Half the mass of a tree is carbon, therefor the potential for storing carbon is very high. Utilization of harvested wood products in long-life products, such as Angelim Pedra hardwood decking, allows for the carbon storage benefits of timber to be extended beyond the forest. The harvested wood products pool size can be increased by raising the amount of wood harvesting and by increasing the lifespan of wood products by increased levels of recycling, and improving durability. Products such as Meranti Batu hardwood decking are a durable and long-life product, and by utilizing these high quality products, you are effectively helping the environment by storing carbon.

One might argue that increased atmospheric CO2 would actually help forests grow faster, as CO2 is one of the necessary elements for plants to make oxygen via photosynthesis. While this may or may not be true, the fact is that increased atmospheric CO2 has other repercussions. It will cause droughts, and water is an even more important element necessary for photosynthesis.

Substituting wood-based products with other building materials, which often have a higher carbon footprint, also brings additional benefits to carbon storage and environmental commitment. Building with concrete actually releases carbon emissions into the air, whereas using wood sequesters it into the framework of the building, making wood a much more eco-friendly option.

By supporting the use of timber as a resource, you are adding more value to the standing forest, encouraging land owners to convert their agricultural ground into forests. If small land owners, like those in Brazil can get more money from their land as a forest instead of a farm, there will be more trees planted, and less burnt down. This creates more wildlife habitat, reduces and sequesters carbon from our atmosphere, and generally makes the world a better, greener place. Please keep these things in mind when purchasing harvested wood products, and always remember to purchase from a certified sustainable company like NOVA. 

To learn more, visit our website

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Agriculture- The real antagonist of deforestation (part 2)

When someone thinks tropical deforestation, they think logging. "I should use less paper to save the trees!" is a common way people try to battle deforestation in their everyday lives. Though their intentions are good, most peoples understanding of tropical deforestation is minimal, and the misconception that wood products are to blame is a skewed one. While deforestation is an issue as mentioned in an earlier post, lumber companies have a responsibility to forest sustainably, and only cut a few trees at a time. Therefore, the real antagonists to deforestation is agriculture.

Despite what you may think looking at a rainforest, the soil in the amazon is extremely infertile. This is due in part to rain runoff, but mainly that there are so many organisms living in the rainforest that the nutrients are tied up in supporting the plant and animal matter. The nutrients are all incorporated into the plants and animals, and can only be released when the organism dies and decays.

Because of this poor soil, after only a few harvest years, farmers land is unable to support their crops. They ‘accidentally’ set fire to the rainforest in order to gain valuable land that they would have otherwise been unable to use. Forest fires are extremely easy to get out of hand, especially in rainforests, which are abundant in flammable peat ground material. Huge sections of forest can be burned due to this increased demand for crops and grazing land for cows.

The poor farmers are not to blame, as they need a way to obtain value from their land. With support of tropical lumber products, the incentive to convert tropical forest to agricultural land is minimized, therefore adding value to the standing forest. Generally, timber is a much better way to add value to the land than agriculture. Forests provides more economic value as well as environmental value. Forests can help prevent flooding, erosion, reintroduce nutrients into the topsoil via deep roots, prevent pests, provide wildlife habitat, and even provide recreational benefits to society. 

In Indonesia and Malaysia, there has been a growing concern of deforestation due to the increased demand for Palm Oil plantations. Palm oil plantations are not run by foresters, but rather is part of the agricultural industry. Conflict Palm Oil production is now one of the world's leading causes of rainforest destruction. Palm oil is found in roughly half the packaged products sold in US grocery stores. Palm oil production can be attributed to many human rights violations, as corporations often displace Indigenous People and rural communities, as well as threaten endangered species such as orangutans, Sumatran Rhinos, and Sumatran elephants.

The increased demand for palm oil has caused a push for more land, clearing rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands. Burning this peatland is a massive contributor to green house gas emissions, and should be avoided. 

Agricultural burning and land-use change is the main contributor to deforestation and carbon emissions worldwide. A good way to avoid this is to support tropical lumber building products, thereby adding value to the standing forest. It also provides more jobs and opportunities for rural communities to thrive, and is a long-term means of obtaining economic and environmental benefit from the land. 

To find out more, please visit out website at

Check back in with us on our next blog as we continue to break misconceptions of tropical logging and discuss the benefits of utilizing wood as a sustainable building product. See how wood can contribute to carbon sequestration, reduce your carbon footprint, and make your home a more comfortable one to live in. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Examining Lower Cost Alternatives to Ipe Decking

Welcome back to, the most in-depth hardwood species series on the web. Decking season is just kicking in, so today's blog is taking a look at some of the lower cost alternatives to Ipe decking.

In the past decade or so, the popularity of tropical hardwood decking has exploded. While we may have seen the popularity of exotic species such as Cambara, Massaranduba, Garapa and the like come and go, one specie, Ipe or Brazilian Walnut, has become the gold standard among tropical hardwood decks.

Ipe has grown in popularity for good reason - properly maintained, it can have a very long useful product life and can remain attractive year after year. Ipe is strong, extremely resistant to decay and insects and weathers exceptionally well. When  given a high quality oil finish it is a classic dark brown / walnut color and when left untreated and allowed to turn to a fine gray patina, it tends not to splinter or otherwise degrade excessively.

Even at near record-high prices, Ipe, may still be a great value compared to many composites on the market today, however there are a few other exotic species which a savvy consumer may want to consider when looking for good looks and high performance decking on a budget.


Cumaru (otherwise known as 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 --- 5% harder than Ipe!  For those looking for a beautiful decking product that is highly resistant to termites and decay while withstanding all types of natural and man-made punishment Cumaru is ideal.

From a stability stand-point Cumaru can be temperamental, especially in wider boards that are being installed in dry/arid climates. Proper installation procedures should be strictly adhered to when working with this species.

Batu / Red Balau

Batu hardwood decking closely resembles the rich classic look of Mahogany and is a go-to species for any job that requires a superior finish, natural durability and long lasting performance.

Batu is a versatile, distinctive wood which lends elegance to any outdoor project without breaking the bank. While many people are partial to the rich, classic look of a Mahogany deck, most homeowners don’t like the color inconsistency or the durability / maintenance hassles that accompany products like Cambara or Meranti.

The Batu product line is therefore ideal - providing customers long-lasting durability and visual appeal with minimal maintenance efforts.

From a stability standpoint, when using Batu it is required that you 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.

Angelim Pedra

Angelim Pedra Decking is a medium-high density hardwood which is kiln dried for maximum stability. It also easily absorbs stains and oils. Angelim Pedra Decking is very durable and resistant to both fungi and termites and contains no harmful chemicals and can therefore be used near water with no worry of contamination.

An Angelim Pedra deck is an economical natural alternative to other decking options when the entire life cycle of the deck or outdoor project is considered. Its rich color and natural grain is breathtaking and is certain to provide a lifetime of beauty.

From a stability stand-point Angelim Pedra has the potential to move in service when installed in close-to-ground applications without  adequate air circulation underneath the deck (leading to potential cupping and warping of boards). It is therefore important that proper installation procedures are adhered to when working with this species.

Nova USA imports Cumaru/Brazilian Teak, Batu / Red Balau and Angelim Pedra decking and distributes to customers throughout North America.

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