Here at J. Gibson McIlvain Lumber, we’re pretty big on quality. You might even say we’re obsessed about it. But as significant as your decking lumber choice may be, proper installation may be even more important. And a huge aspect of installation is including a proper acclimation period. In a previous post, we explained why this is important as well as one factor in determining how long your boards will need to acclimate prior to being installed. In addition to the fastening method you choose, there are several more factors to consider as you determine a project timeline that accounts for proper acclimation.
Factor #2: Seasonal Moisture Levels
In addition to location, we all know that wood moves all throughout the year, as a result of seasonal shifts in moisture level. During the drier winter months, however, wood typically remains fairly stable. Even if the sun raises the temperature on the surface of a decking board during the day, boards typically won’t be affected enough to cause an issue. If you’re performing installation during the winter months, you won’t need to include much, if any, time for acclimation. About a day of having the boards stacked and stickered should be all you need. (Of course, be sure to consider the fact that boards have, in all likelihood, shrunk as much as they are going to, as you plan for gaps.)
Factor #3: Finishing Techniques
Often, decking lumber is installed in an unfinished state. If you’re going to apply any finishing products following installation, you need to take those plans into consideration. Contrary to what many people think, no matter what kind of finishing products you use, they won’t prevent movement. The term “sealer” sometimes leads people to think that it will seal the wood, preventing it from taking on or shedding moisture. It will help slow those processes, but it won’t keep them from happening altogether.
As you plan for an acclimatization period, consider whether you’ve applied finish, which in essence means you’ve injected the boards with added moisture. While the finish you’ve applied will aid in stability overall, it will cost you more time on the front end, as you wait a little longer for the added moisture to be shed. As a general rule of thumb, you can take the recommended time periods listed as a result of other factors and then add a week or so, if finish has been applied.
Continue reading with Part 3.