Yellow Balau Decking - Grade / Quality Information
Wood - A Totally Natural Material
Wood is a beautiful, natural and versatile material that cannot be replicated by any man-made product. It is the only building material that is naturally renewable and truly sustainable.
Wood is manufactured from trees which have developed naturally and responsively to their environment. Being a 100% natural product, it varies from one piece to another. Colour, grain and other natural features vary from piece to piece and within individual pieces.
Raw Material and Production
Silva's Yellow Balau decking is manufactured in Indonesia from the highest quality wood fibre. Rather than buying on an 'ad-hoc' basis from different suppliers with varying quality standards, we have been buying from a single reputable source for several years to ensure quality and consistency.
Silva's Yellow Balau decking is 'Standard & Better' grade which has excellent characteristics. Its appearance is almost entirely free of knots.
Inherent Attributes of Yellow Balau Decking
Being durable, hardwearing and attractive Yellow Balau is an ideal decking material and is a proven performer in the UK climate. This material has a few inherent attributes which are useful to understand to get the best out of it and ensure your project is a success.
The first thing to note about Yellow Balau is that it's not very yellow. It can have yellow-brown tones, varying to brown and dark reddish-brown. As with all wood species expect minor colour variance.
At the point of manufacture deck boards are stacked in packs with thin slips of wood called 'stickers' between each layer to facilitate air flow around the boards. Sticker shadow is a result of the oxidation of naturally occurring chemicals within the wood causing a noticeable shadow mark across the width of the board. Sticker shadow is not unique to Yellow Balau, but it does seem to be more obvious on this species than others in our decking range.
Sticker shadow is an unavoidable natural occurrence and therefore not considered to be a defect. It can be easily removed by lightly sanding or left to weather out over time (usually 6 months or so) if leaving the boards unfinished.
To optimise dimensional stability, performance and appearance of the decking it is recommended that boards are coated on all sides prior to installation. An essential part of the coating process - regardless of the presence of sticker marks - is sanding with a random orbital hand sander using 60 grit paper. This provides a 'key' to the surface that enables the coating to penetrate into the wood. Sanding will also remove any other blemishes present on the face of the wood and will provide a cleaner and brighter surface upon which to apply the coating.
Yellow Balau decking may contain a light scattering of tiny pin holes, which are caused by a small boring beetle in the living tree or freshly cut logs. The beetles cannot live in dried timber and the presence of pin holes is not indicative of active infestation. Pin holes are not detrimental to the structural qualities of the timber. This characteristic is accepted under the grading rules for this species and is not classed as a defect.
Checks are small fissures in the surface of the wood normally occurring across or through the rings of annual growth and usually a result of the release of moisture (drying) on the surface.
Surface checks occur because of stresses that develop in the outer part of boards as they dry around the core that is swollen with moisture. They can also occur in resin ducts and mineral streaks.
Checks can appear in hot weather when the wood is exposed to the sun and the surface of the board dries at a faster rate than the core. They can also close and disappear as the wood absorbs moisture as the seasons change. Checking can be minimised by keeping the decking covered with a (breathable) tarpaulin and applying a coating to all sides of the board prior to installation.
End checking occurs because moisture moves much faster through the end grain down the length of the board than through the face or edges of the board. Therefore, the ends of boards dry faster than the middle and stresses develop at the ends.
End checks can be minimised by sealing exposed or cut ends with end sealer.
Dust and minor surface blemishes
Dust and minor surface blemishes may be present - an unavoidable result of the manufacturing and handling process.
Dust can simply be washed off. As with sticker shadow covered above, any minor blemishes on the surface can be dealt with by light sanding or will disappear over time if left to 'weather'.
Wood is a hygroscopic organic material that takes up and releases moisture according to the temperature and the relative humidity of the ambient air. As wood releases moisture it will shrink (usually during summer) and as it absorbs moisture (in the winter months) it will expand.
The rate of expansion and contraction will vary according to the grain orientation of the wood. This means that some pieces will expand or contract more than others, so there may be minor variances in the width of the boards (known as tangential shrinkage). Shrinkage in the thickness (radial) is minimal and length (longitudinal) virtually non-existent.
From our experience the characteristics covered above can occur or may be present on all Yellow Balau decking, regardless of the source. It's important to bear in mind that these characteristics are all superficial and what is more important is the quality of the wood fibre and production.
To get maximum satisfaction and performance from your Yellow Balau decking, follow our recommendation to sand and apply a coating at the outset. You will be rewarded with a highly attractive and practical hardwood deck that will provide years of enjoyment and service.