Just like thinner exotic lumber can be more expensive for mills to produce, sometimes you can actually get longer lengths of lumber for lower prices. Why? Odd-length Ipe decking lumber is perfectly good and helps eliminate waste. You could actually request even-length decking, instead, but you’ll have to pay more for less lumber. Or pay less but then lop off a foot from each board you’ve purchased. It’s up to you, but we’ll give you our take.
What Nature Gives Us
As a natural resource, trees grow to various heights. It stands to reason, then, that boards can be various sizes. They don’t naturally fall into exact to-the-foot lengths, and by cutting them to standard sizes, there is already some waste involved. But to cut that board that was actually 11 feet, 8 inches long down to 10 feet means a lot more waste than simply cutting it to 11 feet. And there’s no reason for that much waste. Most of the world realizes that, so European and Asian markets gladly accept odd-length lumber. It’s a U.S. thing to prefer only even-length decking, and there doesn’t seem to be much logic to that preference.
How U.S. Importers Respond
For years, U.S. lumber importers have requested all even-length decking. Especially when it comes to a premium species such as Ipe, the waste issues that come up have become too significant to ignore. For that reason, J. Gibson McIlvain has rebelled against this tradition. By refusing to accept odd-length Ipe, U.S. suppliers limit their buying power — not only to certain mills who are willing to acquiesce, but also to the set volume they’re willing to send in such limited sizes.
What Even-Only Orders Mean
When a mill does send an order of all-even-length decking boards to the U.S., the odd lengths have to be sent someplace else. Otherwise, the odd-length boards are simply cut to make them into even-length boards. But then you have to pay for that extra foot that was cut off, as well as for the extra overhead expenses tied to trimming off that extra foot.
How J. Gibson McIlvain Buys Decking
Instead of limiting our customers to having to pay more for less lumber or limiting our buying power — or both — we’ve made the unconventional choice to accept odd-length Ipe decking. What that means for our customers is that if they want all even-length decking, we can still make that happen, but they will have to pay more due to our overhead costs.
In the meantime, those who realize that a 17-foot deck really does make more sense than a 16-foot deck — especially if you pay less for more — they are perfectly free to build that odd length deck! In the meantime, all our customers will benefit from our increased buying power and ability to shop around from a greater variety of mills and purchase larger quantities of Ipe than most U.S. suppliers can, allowing us to offer premium quality Ipe at the best prices possible.
Read the Series
• Lumber Math: Fractions You Need To Know
• Lumber Math: Understanding the Board Thickness Dilemma
• Lumber Math: Possible Solutions for Board Thickness Dilemma
• Lumber Math: Plywood Ply Number Isn’t Always Important
• Lumber Math: Shorter Boards Can Be Better & Save You Money
• Lumber Math: Sometimes Less Is Really More