On Hardwood Decking: Of Hard Heads and Harder Boards
Editor Scott Omelianuk on hardwood decking
The editor, leaning on his good-as-new ipe deck—and the mighty maple tree it skirts around.
"I'm gonna reach back into the DIY disaster archives for this one," I said.
My brother responded, "No need. Just talk about what you screwed up last weekend."
"Very funny," I said, wondering how I came to be related to the people I'm related to. It was a dinner at my mother's house in early spring, the season—along with summer, autumn, and winter—when my brothers and I try to humiliate each other, retelling embarrassing stories.
"So we were getting wood for the deck," I began, and recalled how, when the man at the lumberyard asked if we wanted to tie down the fifty 10-foot ipe boards overhanging the back of the pickup by several feet, my brother said, "Nah, we're only going six blocks." And it was true. We were literally six blocks from home.
My brother was driving, which, as we sat at the table, he denied, along with the rest of the story. Of course, he never lets me drive, so everyone knew he was lying. Anyway, we turned out of the lot and after a couple of blocks came to a stop at a red light.
Was it the beautiful day? The music he was tapping his foot to? The excitement of getting to work? I can't be sure. All I know is that when the light went green, my brother punched the pedal and the truck lurched through the intersection. The ipe didn't.
As the pickup traveled forward, the 500 linear feet of neatly stacked super-dense tropical hardwood somehow stayed put, hanging there in midair—sort of the way Wile E. Coyote hangs for a second when he's stepped off a cliff—before hitting the ground and scattering across the macadam like pick-up sticks.
Fortunately, it was early on a Saturday morning and there was little traffic, so we quickly got the truck reloaded. And, remarkably, the fall to the ground, the scraping against the tar, the skittering over the loose gravel that accumulates on the street just beyond the tire path didn't cause so much as one scratch to the ipe.
That was 10 years ago. Today, a few weeks after retelling the story, I look out at the deck, and the ipe appears exactly as it did the day it was bought. I look different. My brother has many more stories to deny. But those boards—they totally justify the story, All About Hardwood Decking. I hope you find it useful. I'd only add that when you get yours, listen to the yardman when he suggests tying it down. And don't let my brother drive home.