Anatomy of a Hardwood Deck Project

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“Various hardwood decking species can be combined together to create a completely different look for your deck. In this case, Ipe decking and Garapa decking were combined together artfully for a totally unique project. It may sound a little eclectic, but I think you’ll agree that the results are stunning and the clients are thrilled with their new deck.”


Bob Ohle, of Brookhill Builders, Inc. in Wadsworth, Illinois recently completed a beautiful hardwood deck for his own home. After looking at the care and diligence Bob exercised when building this remarkable hardwood deck, we thought it was just too good not to share his secrets with you.

Here’s what the dream hardwood deck looked like before Bob started:



1.) The material was received off the truck and temporarily stored until the truck was unloaded. Most trucking companies allow for up to only thirty minutes for this process, so it’s always best to have enough helpers on hand to make this happen in a timely manner.

Anatomy of a hardwood deck project


2.) The Ipe and Garapa deck boards were then “stickered” to allow for proper acclimation of the decking boards. Care was taken to store the deck boards in a shaded area to allow for better hardwood acclimation. All wood boards will shrink somewhat as they dry out and this process allows for a better finished product. Another smart technique that Brookhill Builders used was applying a coat of Penofin hardwood formula oil finish to all four sides of the decking boards.


proper wood acclimation procedure

Photo: Ipe and Garapa decking boards are stickered and open to allow enough time and ventilation to slowly acclimate to job site humidity levels



3.) After the hardwood deck boards were allowed to acclimate to the approximate moisture content of the job site, the Ipe deck boards were laid out first. On a deck situated so close to the ground, moisture control is a key success factor for long term enjoyment. The builder graded the area under the deck away from the structure and used gravel for proper bulk water control. Nicely done. This is the best practice to eliminate under-deck moisture, especially in a low clearance deck. Bearing in mind what he had learned about the finished appearance of the deck boards when he applied the oil finish to the underside, Bob carefully laid out the Ipe boards for their best appearance and placement.

Ipe deck boards were installed first


4.) The Ipe deck boards were installed first, using hidden fasteners, and then the ends of the deck boards were trimmed to fit the deck framing layout. As you can see, the builder used extra framing to allow for proper fastening of the picture framed deck boards. As soon as the deck boards were trimmed to length, a coat of Anchor Seal was applied to the cut end grain of the deck boards to minimize any potential end grain checking on the boards.




5.) Next, the Garapa deck boards were laid out to create and complete the picture frame for the deck.

Garapa deck boards were installed for a picture frame on the deck

Ipe and Garapa deck boards were sanded and then coated with a final coat of Penofin sealer for beauty and protection


6.) After the decking was installed, Brookhill Builders used an 80 grit sandpaper to “clean up” the surface of the deck boards. Sanding the deck boards after installation is a great way to achieve a smoother and more consistent deck surface.

After a lot of research, Bob then applied a coat of Penofin hardwood decking oil to the top face of the deck boards to enrich the look

of the new decking. Penofin also has a UV inhibitor which will help minimize surface checking on the deck boards during the acclimation and initial seasoning period.

ipe deck boards and garapa trim boards were sealed with penofin oil on all four sides prior to installation


Bob went to great lengths to make sure that the Penofin looked spectacular on his deck boards and plans to continue coating the deck boards with Penofin as needed to maintain the "like new" wood appearance to his hardwood decking.


Alternatively, you may prefer your deck boards to 'silver' out over time.

Download "How Exterior Hardwoods Weather" for more info:



7.) Ipe boards were selected for the fascia of the deck and were spaced off of the rim joists to allow for adequate air flow behind the Ipe boards. The screw holes were countersunk into the Ipe boards and Ipe plugs were then glued in place to conceal the head of the decking screws.

 Ipe deck boards were selected for the fascia trim to cover the deck's rim joists


8.) After the elaborate custom made and designed railing system was complete, it's time for a dinner party on the deck to celebrate the finished project!

Ipe and Garapa deck is great for dining, relaxing and entertaining


Here’s another look at the Ipe and Garapa deck at night.

Ipe and garapa deck at night


free pdf download

"Ultimate Guide to Selecting the Right Decking Material"

For a comprehensive look at various decking material options, please download your own FREE PDF copy of this highly acclaimed E-Book.



Looking for some deck design ideas and inspiration?

Download the "2020 Deck Design Ideas Book",

featuring over 150 real deck project photos and deck ideas. 



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