Americans are often surprised to learn that our preferences when it comes to the thickness of lumber differ from the preferences of consumers in other markets throughout the world. In many places in Asia and Europe, for example, 8/4 and thicker lumber is the norm when it comes to lumber thickness for building projects. In the United States market demand for similar products is almost universally for thinner lumber, typically no more than 4/4 in thickness. There are a whole host of reasons for this discrepancy that may deserve an entire article series all of its own to explore. Suffice it to say, our preferences as U.S. consumers tend to set our markets apart from the rest of the world. This distinction can sometimes put us at a disadvantage if we reject perfectly acceptable wood simply because it’s not the thickness we’re used to dealing with for our projects.
The same can be said for U.S. preferences for size of decking materials. If you find a contractor who is willing to work with decking boards of odd lengths, you could end up saving yourself a significant amount of money on your next decking project. This is especially true when it comes to the realm of exotic hardwood decking materials such as Ipe and Cumaru. In this article we’ll take a look at some reasons why buying odd lengths of decking materials can be such a smart investment.
Choosing Odd Lengths Leads to Higher Quality Decking Boards
In the past, many decking importers who dealt in Ipe, Cumaru, and similar exotic species would choose to order strictly even length decking materials. As the demand for these materials grew, however, business savvy importers began to consider cutting costs by purchasing odd length boards as well. There are a variety of reasons why this change in purchasing procedures makes good sense.
1. Purchasing odd lengths puts U.S. buyers on a level playing field with importers in other world markets. Since the rest of the world has never had a problem buying odd lengths, the U.S. importers were at a disadvantage when it came to ordering exotic decking materials. In fact, certain mills overseas won’t even sell to buyers who refuse to order odd lengths.
2. Refusing to purchase odd lengths wastes perfectly good wood. There’s no reason for a mill to trim perfectly good pieces of wood that happen to be of odd length just to meet common U.S. preferences.
3. Forcing the mills to make the boards for U.S. orders to all be of even lengths will, therefore, inevitably raise the price of the lumber. In order to meet U.S. demands the mill workers have to go to extra trouble and take up valuable time getting rid of that extra foot of wood just to make U.S.-market bound boards come out even instead of odd.
As you can see, the more U.S. lumber dealers are willing to purchase odd lengths of decking materials, the less wasteful and more economically competitive they will be. They can pass those savings on to their customers. There’s no real reason other than tradition that decks in the U.S. usually tend to be constructed with even length boards. So don’t be afraid to allow your deck to be built with odd length decking materials. It’s actually a financially wise decision.