Did you know that J. Gibson McIlvain sells plywood? It came to my attention recently when visiting customers that this was not a well known fact. Certainly hardwoods is where our legacy lies with hundreds of years in that market, but we decided to jump into plywood several years ago to offer some alternatives to our customers. Despite plywood's popularity, users tend to know very … [Read more...] about Types of Hardwood Plywood & Core Comparisons
J Gibson McIlvain News Blog
Welcome to our blog where we aim to inform about all things hardwood, plywood, and millwork. As importers of record we will throw in some import and regulation information as well and give you a peek behind the curtain of the lumber industry. Much of the content here is inspired by questions from our customers so feel free to drop us a line and ask a question. If we don't already have an article about it on our site, we may just write one in the future to address it.
How much space to leave between deck boards? This question may be asked more than any other when it comes to installing a deck. The easy answer is 1/4". But that answer doesn't take into account a lot of factors and can pose problems further down the road. The moisture content of the decking boards, how long they have had time to acclimate to your environment. How much sun the deck receives, … [Read more...] about What is the Proper Deck Board Spacing?
With the trade embargo lifted on Myanmar, Teak lumber buying is set to get very confusing very quickly with many new suppliers entering the market. It is still unclear whether this will lower the barrier to entry for those looking to get into the Teak game, but it is a safe bet that with the Myanmar government already talking about banning exports, many players will try to get into the … [Read more...] about Things to Look For When Buying Teak Lumber
Lately we have been running into a lot of wide plank flooring jobs. In high end remodeling and construction, these 12" and wider planks are a popular choice. But really anything larger than about 4" wide could be considered wide plank in comparison to the typical "strip" flooring products. In other words, "wide plank" is kind of a relative term. Proportionally speaking, the bigger the room the … [Read more...] about Wide Plank Flooring is Beautiful but Tricky
Any call or email we get for marine grade plywood results in a series of questions about why it is needed and how it will be put to use. The term "marine grade" is used a bit too liberally by manufacturers to be trusted at face value. In other words there are many shades of gray to it and and most likely a good product can be found for your project whether it be exterior home work, a … [Read more...] about Do you really Need Marine Plywood?
As if it were some kind of perpetual motion machine, wood will never stop moving. No matter how old it is, what has been done to seal it, fasten it, or restrain it, the wood will move. Accept it, and move on. Understanding how and why your wood moves is necessary if you are going to work with this wonderful medium. Understanding how a particular species and cut moves is … [Read more...] about Wood Moves, Get Over It
Over the past several months we have written about tropical decking choices, Ipe importing seasons, and Ipe pricing fluctuations. This week we want to talk about some of the issues to be aware of while installing and working with tropical decking lumber like Ipe and Cumaru. Ipe Decks Can Be Rough When First Installed To maximize the stability of exterior lumber and to showcase consistent … [Read more...] about Ipe Decking Problems During Installation
As an importer of record in many exotic species like Genuine Mahogany, Teak, and Ipe; J. Gibson McIlvain is acutely aware of the stigma attached to rainforest wood species and the spectre of global warming that looms over our industry. The facts are that deforestation is not a result of the lumber import trade, but in many cases caused by the disruption of it. Additionally, regulation … [Read more...] about Dispelling the Myth That Lumber Importing is Bad for the Environment
Spring time is here and with it comes deck building season. This is the time of year when our millwork department spends 75% of the day grooving Ipe decking boards for hidden fasteners. At any given moment there are several trucks being loaded with Ipe or Cumaru or Tigerwood decking to be shipped off to our customers around the country. As we have written about on this blog … [Read more...] about Tigerwood Decking or Ipe or Cumaru: Tropical Decking Choices
For more than a century, the hardwood lumber industry has held to a central grading standard established by the National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA). Thanks to the foresight of the early founders of the NHLA in 1898, some order has been added to the chaos that had become the lumber trade. Finally there was a standardized system of grading to determine quality of lumber. Today we take this … [Read more...] about Understanding Hardwood Lumber Grading
Plywood is confusing. There, I said it. Plywood pricing is even more confusing. Plywood thicknesses are a major factor in quality and pricing. But the thickness isn't always consistent. This is especially true when it comes to how the sheet of plywood is constructed. You can have 2 panels of identical species and thickness, but is one sheet the same as the other? Is a 3/4 sheet with 12 … [Read more...] about Plywood Thicknesses Depend on Number of Plies
Easy answer: you can't... That's not entirely true. You could dry the timbers in a vacuum kiln and definitely not use them outside and keep them away from direct sunlight. Probably a good idea to speak in low, soothing tones around those timbers too. I joke, but the reality is that these cracks or checks are just the nature of wood. Checking can be controlled in "regular" sized 4/4 through 8/4 or … [Read more...] about How to Prevent Cracks in Your Large Timbers
One of the things than can be very difficult when working with wood is the range of colors you find within a single species. What makes it even more difficult is that all woods will change color throughout the process from sawmill to finished project and then years down the road. Wood like all materials fades in the sunlight, but some woods also undergo actual chemical changes that change the … [Read more...] about Wood Color Changes Explained
I have written briefly about how Walnut is graded differently from other North American hardwoods, but it seems that customers are still surprised by the apparent lack of quality in Walnut lumber. Usually these inquiries are met with surprise on the part of our grading team, as our graders were quite proud of the quality of Walnut that left our yard. What it really comes down to are two … [Read more...] about Walnut Lumber Grade Explained
When you buy decking boards, they are already planed on 4 faces (S4S) and usually have the sharp corners eased (E4E). Depending on whether you are face screwing or using a clip system, there may or may not be a groove routed on the edges. This is a product ready to install right? But is it a finished product? Absolutely not, and this is where many homeowners and even contractors get confused and … [Read more...] about Ipe Deck Maintenance: New Decking is Not a Finished Product
Color is a sticky subject for lumber dealers. More specifically, matching the color of different boards of the same species. Wood is an organic product. Maybe that goes without saying, but in today's engineered product world, it is important to realize that wood is unique. It isn't poured or extruded or dyed or infused or crackle painted (at least I hope not). Every piece you get is different. … [Read more...] about Color Matching Lumber??
As the log bans and export regulation changes in Myanmar continue to confuse the Teak market, there is a strong positive for home builders who use Teak that could make a lot of previously difficult-to-obtain lumber a lot easier to get. In general, the Teak industry centers around boat builders. These builders have understandably very high standards due to the dollar amount on their products … [Read more...] about Teak Supply Pinch May Be Good News for Home Builders
Our customers build some truly beautiful things. They are an uncompromising bunch that require the finest quality and grade of lumber for their projects. The same holds true for the plywood they use, and this is one of the reasons our Bruynzeel line of marine plywood is so popular. I truly believe there is not a finer made panel out there, and this is one of the reasons we have built out such an … [Read more...] about Two Types of Marine Grade Plywood to Solve Many Problems
"I need some Teak for an upcoming project." "Great, how much do you need and what kind of specs?" "800 board feet of at least 6" width, and I want it to be A grade stuff." "Okay, we have FEQ, that's First European Quality, Teak and the width isn't a problem; any length spec?" "At least 12 foot lengths." "Okay, great, let me work up a quote, and I'll get you some numbers..." This conversation … [Read more...] about Lumber Grades Tell Only Half the Story
This is a question that probably is asked several thousand times a second in the lumber business. No matter whether the customer is buying hardwood, softwood, plywood, or even a milled wood product, it all comes down to, "How much will it cost?" I think the lumber industry has developed a bad reputation for keeping its cards too close to the vest on price, much to the chagrin of its customers. I … [Read more...] about How Much Will My Lumber Cost?
You just bought some decking or flooring (or really any lumber) and one of the first things you hear is that it needs time to acclimate to its new surroundings before installing deck boards. The maddening thing is you will rarely get the same answer twice when it comes to how long that particular lumber should sit around getting in touch with its feelings. If pressed for an answer to "how long … [Read more...] about Wait Before Installing Deck Boards
It seems that every year another boardwalk is being replaced. Whether the catalyst is a hurricane or just age, these monstrous projects keep coming up. When "boardwalk season" comes around, new construction bids and RFQs are on everyone's minds. Unfortunately, pressure is being brought to bear on city planners from environmental lobby groups to use composite decking to rebuild the boardwalks. … [Read more...] about Composite Decking Problems and Boardwalks
All wood species have extractives or chemicals in the wood that can make the wood rot resistant or weather resistant or even tasty. Maple Syrup is one tasty example of a wood extractive. While some extractives are useful when actually extracted from the tree like the aforementioned Maple Syrup or Turpentine, others remain part of the wood itself to give it the working and performance … [Read more...] about Stained Decking and Color Changes
Give Your Teak a Sun Tan to Correct Its Crazy Color Every wood specie will change color in the sun and especially right after it has been planed to expose fresh fibers. Teak is a real problem child when it comes to color because of all the oils and resins in the wood that makes it such a great exterior and marine wood species. In this video we break down what is actually happening that … [Read more...] about How to Fix the Color Streaks in Teak
I feel like there is a theme developing on our blog lately. Tariffs, tariffs, and more tariffs! Today we saw the official announcement from the US Department of Commerce about the tariff on Canadian Softwood. To our customers this won't be a surprise since we have been talking about this for more than a month. It certainly is no secret and not news considering the long standing debates over … [Read more...] about Softwood Tariff Announced, Price to Climb 20%
No you're not experiencing a bad case of Deja Vu. You have actually read this article about a new Plywood Tariff from us before...but it was 4 years ago. And then the tariff went away... ...it's baaaaaaack! On April 18th, the US Department of Commerce passed a Countervailing Duty of 10% (9.89% actually) on Chinese Imported plywood. Some Chinese companies received up to a 111% tariff because … [Read more...] about Plywood Prices to Climb…Again
Over the years we have written a lot about the ever changing landscape of not just Ipe but the tropical decking market in general. In the last year many of our predictions and concerns have come to fruition creating a chaotic state of the market. It seems like it is time to discuss the state of the species and what we can expect over the next year with regards to Ipe availability, quality, and … [Read more...] about Ipe State of the Market
Winter Is Coming. We stand looking out over the lumber yard and shivering, knowing that the coldest months are still ahead of us. Winter is here, I don't care what Ned Stark says. Just talk to any of our customers currently buried under snow. Life goes on and we turn up the heaters in our shops and get back to work. It is this time of year and those heaters that can cause some issues with the … [Read more...] about Decking Gap: The Heat is On
We know that lumber needs to be dried before using it in construction, and most of us know to ask for kiln dried lumber. (We do know that right? Please say yes) But did you know that not all kiln dried lumber is equal? Depending on where the lumber comes from, the moisture content of your kiln dried material may not be what you think it is. 6-8% is the accepted moisture content of kiln … [Read more...] about Kiln Dried May Not Mean What You Think It Means
We lumber guys have our share of lingo and obscure terminology just like any industry. But what I find interesting about the lumber industry is that we expect our customers also understand our lingo just to be able to buy our products. There is nothing that exemplifies this paradigm more than how lumber folk talk about thickness of a board in "quarters." For example, when referring to a 1" thick … [Read more...] about What’s With the Fractions?
All of us are at the mercy of trends. Whatever is the latest and greatest, we all have to have it. Or we have to redesign our products to embrace that trend. Since we are a large importer of genuine Burmese Teak, we understandably do a lot of business with boat builders. These boat builders almost exclusively use Teak for both exteriors and interior elements of their boats. These days we are … [Read more...] about Change of Species Changes the Rules
Philippine Mahogany is synonymous with boat building, thanks to the iconic Chris Craft boats from the 1930-60s. So when asked if the species will be good for exterior projects, we answer with a strong yes. Boat building tests wood in a way that nothing else will, so if a particular wood is good enough for that, then trim, windows, or siding have nothing to fear. Times have changed, however, … [Read more...] about Yesterday’s Philippine Mahogany is Today’s Meranti
There is a pandemic in the lumber business where everyone wants to find wood as wide and as long as possible. Many times the specified lumber is much bigger than the eventual parts it is to be made into. The argument for this is higher waste per board, better color match, and those who want to rip and glue back together for better stability (don't get me started on that wives tale). I'm here to … [Read more...] about Want Better Quality Lumber, Reconsider Your Sizes
We have talked about shortages in Ipe recently here, and while we still have plenty of Ipe in stock, it seems appropriate to talk about another option and to do some side by side comparison. Certainly, we have found that Cumaru is a great Ipe alternative, and we have been selling it as fast as we can stock it for several years now. Recently, in order to beef up our selection of decking … [Read more...] about How Does Jatoba Decking Compare with Ipe Decking
I'm normally not a fan of headlines like this one as they are sensationalist, but in this case it is a reality we must grasp quickly. Frankly, I have been worried about the Ipe market for many years, as global demand rises and saw mills churn out material faster and faster. When you look closely at the Ipe supply chain, you see a house of cards that won't take much to be knocked over. Now don't … [Read more...] about Ipe Shortage isn’t Looming, It’s Already Here
Its getting cold out there. The summer tourists have gone home and seasonal repairs and renovation has begun in earnest. This year one simple yet highly effective repair you can do is to replace your dock boards with Ipe. After all a dock is just a deck right? In fact Ipe has become such an effective dock material that many of the sawmills we work with in Brazil produce 4-5 foot Ipe boards … [Read more...] about Replace those Dock Boards with Ipe and Save
We love African hardwoods. As regulation and grade inconsistencies rise for Mahogany coming out of South America, we are advising more and more of our customers to consider Mahogany alternatives from Africa like Khaya (African Mahogany), Sapele, and Utile (also known as Sipo). The availability of wider and longer African hardwood boards is much greater, the species are more durable and hold … [Read more...] about The Long and Winding Road of African Hardwood Export
As a woodworker and furniture maker I am a big fan of Genuine Mahogany. It carves, saws, and planes so easily and you can't beat the color and depth once finish is applied. However, it has been disconcerting to see how grade and availability have fallen off dramatically in the last year. South American Mahogany definitely isn't what it used to be. What is most upsetting is that much of this is not … [Read more...] about Questions about Genuine Mahogany’s Future
In March of 2013 the European Union's Timber Regulation (EUTR) legislation went into effect. Simply put, EUTR is Europe's version of the US Lacey Act as it relates to lumber production. There are similarities between the two laws and a lot of differences. For instance, EUTR does consider certifications (FSC/PEFC) and verifications (TLTV/VLO) as risk mitigation when conducting "due diligence," … [Read more...] about EU Timber Regulation Provides Lacey Act Guidance
We are constantly on the lookout for new products that our customers will like. In the past few decades we have been increasingly interested in some of the composite siding and trim options that have come out as long lasting and green alternatives to Cedar shingles and/or wooden siding. Without fail, these products have come up short in appearance, workability, and/or durability. The central … [Read more...] about NuCedar PVC Siding and Trim