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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Abaco Decking and Railing

I have been working with several different decking materials for over 25 years. I have always enjoyed working with hardwood compared to traditional cedar or pine. The end result for me has always been very satisfying to look at and I find the crisp appearance and finish of hardwood cannot be matched. If you are familiar with and enjoy Ipe or Kayu decking than you will also appreciate the qualities of Abaco decking. Abaco tropical hardwood is a stunning deck material that can be used to create a furniture quality finish to any outdoor project. Abaco is fairly new to Canada however for myself working with hardwood is nothing new.

What is Abaco?

Abaco is a tropical mahogany hardwood decking material that has a very rich appearance and texture. It has characteristics that are very close to that of Ipe. If you were wondering about the strength of the material....

• Abaco has a density of 60lbs/ft sq Ipe is 59lbs/ft sq
• Abaco has a crush strength of 11619 psi and Ipe is 9920psi

• Abaco shear strength is 2798 psi and Ipe is 2396 psi

• Janka hardness test of Abaco is 3190 lbs and Ipe is 3680 lbs

• Abaco bending strength is 29200 psi and Ipe is 22500 psi

Abaco decking is a very strong and dense material, it also naturally resists rot and has a very good abrasion and dent resistance. As well it has a very smooth feel in a warm reddish brown tone.

Why Choose Abaco?

 Hidden floor clip & Ribbed floor surface
Abaco is available with a traditional smooth surface on one face of the board and the other face has a ribbed texture. This ribbing or milling on the one face is actually a very popular European style of decking finish. It provides additional slip resistance and an interesting texture that is not very common here in Canada. Currently Abaco is only available in a few dimensional sizes for flooring, skirt and stair applications. There is a basic railing kit available as well. For me as a designer and carpenter that is a bit of a drawback. I like to have a selection of dimensional sizes that provide me with more versatility for projects I create. I am sure as the product becomes more popular the availability and selection will increase.

Abaco is a kiln dried product so it is quite a bit more stable from the start than an air dried product such as Ipe. However you will still expect to see some minor cracking and checking of the material. The milled ribbing in the one side of the board actually relieves some stress from the board and will help reduce or eliminate twisting and cupping. If you choose to leave the material unfinished, Abaco will weather out to a silver grey patina much like any other natural wood. (Have a look at the bark on all the different species of trees, they are all a similar silver grey tone.) However if you do choose to maintain your Abaco deck with a stain or sealer it will need to be oiled regularly to keep the rich luster and tone of the wood. I also recommend periodic washing of the material with a mild deck wash product. **always test your cleaners first**

Working with Abaco

Your Deck Company has installed thousands of square ft of tropical hardwood decking materials such as Ipe, Kayu and Abaco.

Abaco can be a challenging and difficult material to work with that requires experience and patience. Its extreme density requires the use of special drill bits for pre-drilling and a variety of high quality carbide tipped saw blades and router bits for cutting. It can easily take 2 to 3 time
 s longer to install a complete Abaco deck compared to a typical cedar deck.

Hand nailing into Abaco is almost impossible and using pneumatic nail guns is not a good idea either. When you are fastening Abaco I recommend using stainless steel fasteners Abaco is such a durable and long lasting material you need you fasteners to last just as long.

Hidden clips can be used for installing the decking and are very effective if the correct type is used. I do not recommend the use of under-mount bracket systems. Any shrinkage
  of the Pressure Treated framing will generally cause the small screws to snap. The use of hidden clips will allow the floor to be installed faster and look much cleaner than surface screwing the product down. Spacing is also necessary to allow for any expansion and contraction in the material.

Abaco looks great when fasteners are also plugged. Plugging is a method of hiding visible fasteners. It is when a fastener is deeply countersunk from the surface of the wood. A specific size of plug of the same wood is then glued and tapped into the hole to conceal the fastener. Once the glue has dried the plug is trimmed with a chisel and sanded smooth. This is a very time consuming option that provides an excellent finish however it will also add to the final labour bill.

I have the pleasure of being equipped with an extensive and complete woodworking shop. Having a shop is a definite plus to overcome some of the challenges of working with premium hardwood decking materials.

If you require further information regarding any of our products feel free to contact me directly.