The saying “less is more” is one that we have all heard. Regardless of whether you believe that assertion to be accurate, it is uncommon for higher-quality lumber to really be less expensive. With regard to thinner boards, we’ve already discussed the reasons why that might be the case (see Parts 1 & 2). But now let’s take a closer look at a particular instance where it is also the case in terms of board length. By choosing a larger deck, you can actually save money when using Ipe decking (as well as several other exotic hardwood decking species)! Why is there a catch? This typically only works if you are able to flexibly work with odd length boards. How can this be true? Let’s investigate this further.
Preference for Even-Length Decking in the US Market
The US lumber market is distinct from the global lumber market, and we have already compared how this is true when it comes to board thickness and so-called short boards. In the US, we have particular industry standards for sizing and specialized consumer preferences. Exotic lumber species are most definitely not milled with US tastes in mind, but domestic lumber species are.
It just doesn’t make sense for overseas mills to saw to US size specs, especially when you consider our propensity for specified sizes and our contempt for anything that isn’t top-grade material. Which brings us to the topic at hand: the US market favors decking planks that are an even length in general. But for a number of reasons, J. Gibson McIlvain Lumber has strayed from the norm; in fact, you could say that we don’t agree with conventional purchasing methods.
For the Win: Unusual Decking Lengths
The majority of US importers won’t take odd-length decking, which significantly reduces their purchasing power. Even when a mill agrees to work with a particularly finicky customer, they are often forced to restrict the amount they may order. Trees actually grow to a wide range of heights, which results in a wide range of board lengths. A foot of perfectly good wood is wasted when an 11-foot tree is used to produce a 10-foot board, and that waste results in the sawmill losing money.
Even if a certain timber importer only needs even-length boards, the odd-length boards still need a place to go. Additionally, the additional time and personnel costs mount up whenever goods need to be picked through. What is more likely to occur, though, is that the excess foot is simply lopped off in order to make a shipment contain just even-length boards. But here’s the thing: the customer is still responsible for paying for the entire board at its full original length in addition to paying for the extra labor that was needed to trim any boards that were odd lengths in order to make them even lengths.
Both even-length and odd-length decking boards are readily available at J. Gibson McIlvain. We’re delighted to sell it to you as well. We can also make sure that the decking is just even-length as requested. But the price will increase. Therefore, the choice is yours: A 17-foot deck will cost less than a 16-foot deck, and there’s a good possibility that nobody will be using a tape measure at your next barbecue. Or, for added protection, you may spend extra money on a 16-foot deck.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the Capitol building, celebrity homes, Supreme Court, luxury boats, the White House, and Smithsonian museums. For more information on J. Gibson McIlvain’s lumber products and services, call toll free (800) 638-9100 Monday-Friday to speak with one of their lumber reps.