herringbone cherry flooring in living room with fireplace

Color Variations in Wood

Sapwood is the part of the tree just under the bark. I think of it as the circulatory system of the tree. It delivers water and nutrients from the roots to the crown. The heartwood is the center of the tree underneath the sapwood.

Often sapwood is lighter in color than heartwood. Walnut is a dramatic example of this, as is Cherry and Western Red Cedar. Check out the beautiful, natural color variation.


walnut hardwood flooring color variation


cherry herringbone floor close up detail

Western Red Cedar

clear cedar color variation

Some species have less contrast in color from sapwood to heartwood. Overall, they are more consistent in color but still exhibit lovely variations, some examples are white oak, ash, and Eastern white pine.

White Oak

white oak flooring showing color variation


ash flooring in empty room with window

White Maple


color and knots in pine boards

Each species and tree is different. Many factors contribute to color variations like altitude, soil PH, climate, and injury to the tree.

Have a look at the variety in color that nature provides:


Red Balau/Batu

close up of a section of red balau/batu decking

Western Red Cedar

color variation of cedar boards

A few species can be selected and milled to help decrease color variations (like hard white maple and walnut) but most are not offered this way. Selecting the right species and coatings (stain, polyurethane, oil) is an important step in creating the appearance you desire when working with wood.

Excelsior is happy to help with this process. Please give us a jingle or send us a message anytime!

Properly Store and Acclimate Your Siding and Decking

Be sure to properly store and acclimate your siding and decking at the job site.

Proper storage of your exterior wood products is critical for a successful installation. Understanding your job site conditions and how they impact wood products is essential in determining proper storage methods.

The wood should be kept dry. The goal is to keep the product from direct exposure to the elements (sun, rain, sleet, snow, etc.) prior to installation while allowing it to acclimate. Be advised that your product must also be protected from the ground below and its detrimental effects of moisture infiltration.

Failure to properly store your material can and likely will result in the manifestation of many damaging effects. Proper on-site storage is not Excelsior Wood Products’ responsibility.

Here are some tips to consider that could help keep your siding and decking in good condition prior to installation:

  • Keep the wood products elevated off the ground a minimum of 4″-6″ on a flat surface.
  • Place a moisture barrier, like a tarp, on the ground beneath the pack.
  • Cover the unit with a moisture barrier. Elevate the center so water doesn’t pool on the top.
  • Do not completely seal the bundle. Air should be able to circulate fully around and throughout the stack. The goal is for the material to acclimate to the temperature and humidity of the job site. Generally speaking, in our region most wood products are ready to install when they are below a 15% moisture content.
  • For best air circulation and acclimation sticker each layer.
  • If your siding or decking is pre-coated be careful that you do not get sticker marks on the faces of the boards. In this case, you could stack a layer face to face leaving the slip sheets (thin plastic sheets separating the boards) between the boards so they do not adhere together causing sticking and peeling. Be sure to protect the exposed faces of the boards, even if it is not pre-coated.


In any case, if your order has slip sheets, we encourage you to leave these between the boards until you are ready to install. They will help the boards from sticking together and peeling off the coatings.

Tree Cutting Guilt?

Tree cutting guilt… Is what we’re doing okay?

It seems like we need trees more than ever… sucking in carbon, breathing out oxygen.

It seems like trees could be one of the most useful tools in decreasing carbon levels.

So, what are we thinking, cutting them down?

Especially the tropical hardwoods in the Amazon!

This could keep a person in the lumber industry up at night!  Then propel them into research mode…

So, we spoke with Nova, our supplier of Ipe and Red Balau/Batu (both South American tropical hardwoods)  to better understand their practices. We are delighted to report to you, what we learned.

Here are some highlights:

  •   No clearcutting
  •   Selective harvesting only
  • Seedlings and small trees are allowed to grow
  •  Only 2 – 200 trees are harvested for every 1000 acres of forest
  • A plot of forested land is allowed to rest for 20-30 years between cuts
  •  After 2-3 harvesting cycles, there is actually more wood fiber in the forest. This sweet spot between harvesting and re-growth results in Optimal Forest Re-growth!
  •  Loggers submit detailed forest management plans for approval, including species identification with GPS coordinates to pinpoint trees and execute the plan precisely.


Surprisingly, agriculture is the biggest threat to the rain forests. Forests are clear cut or burned to make room for growing crops and raising cattle.

Perhaps it is counter-intuitive, but the forest and logging industry, when operating ethically, is a defender and protector of our forests. Lumber companies can operate, jobs can be created, people can make a living, and forests can actually thrive.

Here is a link to Nova’s page about their practices if you’d like to read more. I know I feel much better now that I understand how our supplier works.

All decked out … in tropical hardwoods!

Spring is here and most of us are spending lots of time at home…so it may be a good time to work on your outdoor space.  We want to share with you Excelsior’s preferred in house method to prepare tropical hardwoods like Ipe and Red Balau, also known as Batu and commonly referred to as Mahogany decking. 



  1. We groove for hidden fasteners. If the decking is 4/4 material we center-match the groove. If it’s 5/4 we offset the groove to the bottom. This creates an extra heavy wear layer, hides the clip a bit and allows the boards to sit flatter (since when we mill it, we are referencing both edge grooves off the bottom of the board, not flipping them halfway through). In this case, be sure to buy clips for 4/4 material since the groove is offset to the bottom.
  1. We wire brush the face of the boards. This cleans and refreshes the material and has the added benefit of opening the grain. Tropical hardwoods like Ipe and Red Balau are very dense, so dense that even penetrating oils have a hard time penetrating… wire brushing helps.
  1. Next, we apply coatings.  We apply it and let it penetrate for a minimum of 24 hours before we wipe off the excess. We coat all the sides as recommended. This helps reduce moisture intake and cupping.

We stock a variety of coatings specially formulated for tropical hardwoods. However, we can apply just about any oil you specify. You can learn more about how to choose the right stain for your deck HERE.

product image ipe oil
product image wisecoat wood sealer
product arborcoat

Now it's in your hands!

Excelsior stocks the decking accessory products you will need to do the job right. Check out our Online Store for more information.

Click on the images below to find out more.

We also supply these items for your install.



Decking Screws