The Official Nova USA Wood Products Blog

Welcome to the Nova Blog. We have written many articles over the years about our hardwood products and we hope that we can help educate the hardwood flooring, decking and siding community about our beautiful, natural wood products. Our ultimate goal is help the customer make the right choices when using and specifying hardwoods. We have been importing and selling some of the most beautiful hardwoods on the planet - and now we also offer our proprietary Tung oil finish and patented decking and siding hidden fastener clips.

Our products are often sold as part of a system designed to perform at the highest level possible. Utilizing resilient clips and finishing off your project with the best exterior wood stain available is our solution to typical problems encountered with hardwoods used in exterior conditions. We are the first company to offer comprehensive Real Wood Solutions.

Wood Decay and The Importance of Wood Stain

Tired Deck

Does your deck or picnic table look cracked or weathered? What causes these problems, and more importantly, what can you do about these problems? Keeping your deck beautiful and functional all year long can take work. Several different factors can cause decay and degradation in wood, and understanding these factors can help you maintain your deck beautifully.

Common Factors Causing Wood Decay

Moisture

Moisture, or the lack thereof, causes wood to change its dimensions. There are two very specific conditions involving moisture that affect the size and shape of the wood.

  1. 1. When wood is completely deprived of moisture it begins to shrink.
  2. 2. When wood is completely soaked, wood begins to swell.

All wood is prone to these problems, but the amount it shrinks or swells, depends on the species of wood.

Results of fungi rot
Fungi

The presence of fungi or rot can cause degradation to the cells of the wood. The cellular scan is an extreme case located in the ancient tomb of “King Midas”, approximately 700 B.C. The image to the left is healthy wood, and the image to the right is wood that has been destroyed by fungi.

There are three major kinds of fungi that can destroy the wood on your deck:

  • Brown Rot
  • White Rot
  • Soft Rot

Brown Rot
Oak with...
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By Steve Getsiv, 10/16/19

Applying an ExoShield Finish: What NOT to Do

Summer Deck Fun

Summer is the perfect time for enjoying your wood deck. Fall and spring is the perfect time to maintain your deck. Applying a wood stain to your deck, such as ExoShield, can protect it from the effects brought on by the summer heat and strong UV rays. ExoShield stands up to the heat and keeps your deck looking like new. High heat and sunlight alter the staining process, so if you are considering staining your deck during the summer, be sure you understand how to apply stain in hot weather prior to starting application.

Applying in Heat

Working under a hot sun

The ideal temperature to apply a stain to your deck is somewhere between 50 and 70 degrees. High heat causes the stain to dry quickly, which might sound nice. The faster it dries the faster you can use it right? But how fast is too fast? The faster drying speed means you have to wipe it down sooner – and if you don’t, you could end up with shiny spots all over your deck where the stain dried on top of the wood before you got a chance to wipe it down. Temperatures above 70 will cause the solvents in the stain to evaporate more quickly and less stain that can penetrate into the wood. Over application during hot weather is the number one issue in working with ExoShield wood stain. Although not ideal, it is possible to stain your deck in temperatures above 70 degrees. On a typical 50 to 70 degree day, wood stains take around 20 or 30 minutes to dry. On a hot day, stains can dry as quickly as 5 minutes. In order to prevent the areas from drying and getting sticky before you start wiping it down, work in smaller areas. Take one small...

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By Chad Koehnen, 09/30/19

Wood vs. Fiber Cement Siding: Making the Best Decision for Your Home

Combination Wood / Fiber Cement Sided House

When it comes to siding for a home, there are many different options to choose from. Two of the more popular materials are fiber cement siding and wood siding. Like with everything, each of these siding options has its own set of advantages and disadvantages that require consideration.

Before you make any decisions on new siding for your home, take some time to learn about the differences between fiber cement and wood siding.

An Overview of Fiber Cement Siding

Fiber Cement Siding

Benefits of Fiber Cement Siding

1. Customization

Fiber cement siding is easy to customize. So, if a homeowner decides they suddenly want the siding a different color, all they have to do is buy some high-quality paint. This means the siding will have no issue conforming to their style.

2. Durability

When installed correctly, fiber cement siding can be reasonably durable, resisting damage to a certain extent. This ensures your home will be protected from the elements and the harmful UV rays from the sun.

3. Easy to Clean

When it is time to clean fiber cement siding, it’s easy to do. All that it requires is a good power washing every so often to remove any dirt and debris.

Disadvantages of Fiber Cement Siding

1. Maintenance

While there are different kinds of fiber cement siding, options like Hardiplank do require maintenance. With this kind of siding, the boards will require regular repainting to keep their appearance beautiful and clean. Some brands offer...

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By Chad Koehnen, 09/04/19

Rooftop Deck Construction: Considerations & Design Ideas

Sunny Roof Deck

Decks have always been a popular addition to any home. They allow homeowners to make better use of their entire property by transforming their outdoor space into a whole new living area.

Decks can come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and even heights, depending on the type of backyard space the homeowner has to work with. Even if a home doesn’t have real backyard space, they can still have a deck that’s where rooftop decks come into play.

Here is what you need to know about rooftop deck construction, along with some rooftop deck design ideas to jumpstart your imagination.

Why Do People Want Rooftop Decks

When you think about decks, you usually think of something that goes in the backyard of a home, either flat on the ground or slightly raised. But, not everyone has a backyard or enough space in their yard for a deck. Thankfully, this doesn’t mean they can’t have a deck: It just means they have to get creative.

That’s where rooftop decks come into play. Homes with flat roofs are the perfect groundwork for a rooftop deck design. These decks take advantage of otherwise unused rooftops and turn them into beautiful, extra living spaces that use their height to provide homeowners with stunning views of the area.

Rooftop Deck Considerations

Be Completely Sure of Building Laws and HOA Requirements

Before you even begin looking at how to build a rooftop deck, it is important to look up and review the building codes and any HOA requirements for your area. That way, you can be sure of what is acceptable in regards to rooftop deck design and what isn’t.

Make Sure There Is Space for Construction

Like with any construction project, a rooftop deck requires a fair amount of space. So, it is import...

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By Chad Koehnen, 08/29/19

Selecting The Best Hidden Deck Fasteners

Nova Blog Photo

Decks are meant to be enjoyed. They’re the place you barbecue, gather with friends and play with your kids. As outdoor living becomes more popular, more people are beginning to see the value in decks and are building them at impressive rates.

What people want in a deck is something that’s going to be functional, that will hold up well for years and that will also be beautiful — adding value to their home and to their home’s appearance.

That’s why it’s important to pay attention to all the little details that go into building a deck. Yes, the decking you choose is important and so is the style, size and stain. But equally important are the other materials you use to build your deck with: the nails, brackets and fasteners that hold your deck together and keep it functioning well.

When you want the ultimate in appearance and function, the right hidden fastener system might by the best option available.

What Are Hidden Deck Fasteners?

hidden deck fastening system

Normally, a deck’s boards are fastened to the joists by driving nails or inserting deck screws right through the face of the board, two fasterners per joist intersection. The fasteners penetrate the top of the boards, and the fasterners are clearly visible when looking at the deck. With softwoods or non-durable hardwoods, the holes made by the fasteners allow water into the center of the board and can lead to rot and decay at each screw or nail hole.

The best-designed hidden deck fasteners install inside grooves in the edges of the board and are spring-loaded to apply tension without pe...

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By Steve Getsiv, 07/31/19

Wood vs. Vinyl Siding: Why a Premium Hardwood Siding Is Best

Wood Siding-Front Facia

Wood siding has been the most popular material for homes for decades. Traditional softwood siding, however, often has issues with warping, rotting, cracking around knots and bug resistance, which led many homeowners to begin looking for alternatives.

Vinyl siding was introduced in the 1950s as an alternative to aluminum siding. Because it could be molded to look like it had a wood grain, it quickly caught on as another option to wood siding as well.

But vinyl has a lot of drawbacks all its own. It’s often seen as far less than the low- maintenance option that it’s often billed to be, and it doesn’t hold up well in all climates. Homeowners who want the look of wood siding, without the issues of softwoods, may want to consider hardwood siding instead of either softwood or vinyl.

The Drawbacks of Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding is made from polyvinyl chloride, a form of plastic. The appeal of vinyl comes from the fact that the color penetrates the entire plank, so there’s no paint or stain to maintain or reapply over time. Vinyl is easy to clean and fairly easy to install as well since it’s lightweight and snaps easily onto the home’s exterior.

However, no matter how well it’s molded to look like wood, vinyl siding is still a type of plastic and comes with all the issues and drawbacks associated with the material. Like all plastics, vinyl is susceptible to temperature changes.

This means that in hot climates, the siding can soften and begin to warp over time due to thermal expansion lengthwise. This expansion means the siding won’t lay flat along the side of the house, creating a rollercoaster-like profile.

In cold climates, particularly those that see freeze/thaw cycles, the siding can become brittle. Whe...

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By Chad Koehnen, 07/26/19

Hardwood vs Composite Decking: 5 Reasons to Choose Wood

hardwood vs composite decking

With warmer weather arriving, countless people are looking to fix up their deck to get ready for all the summer fun. With so many different decking options on the market, it can be challenging to decide which one is best for your home. The decking materials debate revolves mainly around two options: composite decking vs. wood decking. Both are great materials, but which is best?

5 Advantages of Hardwood over Composite Decking

Here are five reasons that hardwood decking is the superior choice.

1. Real Hardwood Decking Looks Great

Everyone wants beautiful, natural-looking decking and nothing accomplishes that more than real hardwood decking. While composite decking tries to mimic the look of real wood, it falls way short of replicating hardwood perfectly. So, when it comes down to it, for the most beautiful and natural looking decking, the best option is to go with real, naturally durable hardwood.

Another thing to note about the composite decking vs. wood aesthetics debate is that composite decking, due to its composition, has higher heat retention when exposed to sunlight. Therefore, if you live in an area with hot, sunny summers, the decking may begin fading faster; not to mention the fact that on really hot days your kids will burn their feet walking barefoot on the deck. Ouch!

2. Hardwood Decking Has a Natural Durability

Hardwood Decking

Ther...

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By Chad Koehnen, 07/02/19

Freshen Up Your Outdoor Furniture with an ExoShield Maintenance Coat

Is your outdoor wood furniture looking dull? If so, it may be time for a maintenance coating using ExoShield Wood Stain. ExoShield’s secret formula combines Tung Oil, UV Blockers, Fungicide, and trans-oxide pigments, making it the best option for outdoor wood furniture and wood decking. Damage from sun and debris can cause the shine from your original finish to fade. Keep your outdoor furniture looking new with these easy steps!

Nova Blog Photo

Preparation

In order to apply your coating, it is important that you are working with a clean surface. Over the last year, your outdoor surfaces have probably collected pollen, dirt, and other residue. Before you begin, clean the piece of furniture with a damp cloth to remove the residue. ExoShield contains solvent, so do not worry about scrubbing the table spotless, ExoShield will take care of whatever is left.

ExoShield comes in several colors, so make sure to choose one that best matches your furniture. For example, with a tigerwood table, the mahogany stain brings out the natural color and pigment, while also protecting the finish much better than a clear stain. Keep in mind when applying a maintenance coating to furniture, such as a table, you will not be using the entire gallon of ExoShield.

Applying ExoShield

Nova Blog Photo

After the table has been wiped down and you have taken out the can of ExoShield, you are ready to begin. First, you will want to put on your latex gloves and open the can of ExoShield. Next, dip your cotton or microfiber rag into the can of finish. Then, wipe t...

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By Steve Getsiv, 06/14/19

Film-Forming vs Penetrating Oil Wood Finishes

Are you looking for a new wood stain that won’t cause your exterior wood furniture to chip or peel? Which types of finishes work? Which don’t? The two most common wood finishes are film-forming and penetrating oil finishes. Although the finishes may look somewhat similar at first on wood, they differ vastly in breathability, longevity, and upkeep.

What is a Film-Forming Finish?

A film-forming finish creates a coating or “film” on top of the wood surface. This coating helps protect the wood by reducing the effects of weathering. These finishes can be painted or sprayed on and need to be stripped and re-applied at the first sign of bubbling or cracking. Film-forming finishes are commonly used on interior furniture and cabinetry, away from the elements.

Potential Drawbacks to film-forming Finishes

Nova Blog film-forming Finish Failure

There are drawbacks to using film-forming finishes, especially when not protected from the outside environment. Since the finish does not penetrate the wood, the natural occurrence of expansion and contraction in wood with changes in humidity will create cracks in the film, eventually chipping and peeling. The cracks and peeled finish expose the unprotected wood to moisture and sunlight, causing advanced deterioration and more peeling and chipping near the initial finish failure. To repair the finish, you need to strip the finish off by sanding, or by using toxic chemicals that need to be handled with care – both should be used with a mask/breathing apparatus.

Although a recently applied film finish can make a deck, log home, or wood furniture look exquisite, this feeling of bliss is short-lived. Water penetrating through cracks will become trapped between the un...

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By Steve Getsiv, 06/10/19

Thermal Bridging and Energy Efficiency in Rainscreen Siding

Why You Should Install Rainscreen Siding on Your Building

Rainscreen siding systems have huge benefits for your home or building. They make your building more aesthetically pleasing while also saving on overall energy costs. Initially, rainscreen systems are more expensive; and making the right choices in your rainscreen siding system requires a deeper understanding of these energy saving properties before making the initial investment.

What is Rainscreen Siding?

Rainscreen siding systems refer to the style of installation and fastening of the siding material to the structure of your building. Moving the siding away from the building creates a gap that is called the “rainscreen”. Rainscreens are designed to help keep the rain and other elements away from the building structure. Most importantly, a rainscreen creates an exterior siding system that acts as a passive insulation cavity which saves energy.

Nova Blog Photo

The air gap in a rainscreen siding system is between the outermost layer of siding and the building structure itself. This air gap, which generally measures around 3/4", greatly enhances the thermal insulation as well as creating a stable moisture environment for the outer layer of siding material. This is especially important when using hardwood or softwood as siding material since wood can be prone to cupping, warping, swelling and shrinkage with changes in humidity.

When looking at the finished structure, the air gaps are completely invisible. These air gaps matter because they protect the structure underneath the outer layer of siding and keeps this outer layer more stable. A properly installed rainscreen system will also allow for very small ventilation gaps between the siding boards themselves, generally in the ran...

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By Steve Getsiv, 05/03/19

Applying Your ExoShield Deck Stain

You have already bought the ExoShield wood decking stain and have prepared your deck properly for finishing, so what is the final step in the process? The fun part! Applying the stain to your wood and seeing the result. These final steps are critical to getting the optimal result out of ExoShield Wood Deck finish, so follow closely!

Applying ExoShield to Angelim Pedra with a Roller

Application Tips

Start by shaking the can, for at least a minute, prior to opening. Once the can is opened, stir the material thoroughly. It is important to apply the finish in temperatures that are above 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

Apply the first coat to the wood using a roller or brush. Applying by brush is effective but very slow. High quality rollers with a 3/8” nap work best for applying the stain, allowing the ExoShield Wood Deck finish to spread easily and quickly. Be sure to use a disposable roller tray and pour ExoShield into the tray to a depth of no more than an inch or so. Coat the roller and lightly wring out excess to avoid drips.

Make multiple passes over the same area with your roller and keep rolling until there is very little ExoShield left on the roller itself. Recoat the roller in your tray and again wring out enough material so you don’t get any drips. ExoShield is slightly thicker or more viscous than typical oil finishes due to its higher ratio of natural oil to solvent.

The type of wood, the age of the wood, and the wood grain will all determine the amount of stain you will need to apply. If your wood is low density like Cedar or Redwood, the stain will absorb straight into the wood, pretty much eliminating the need to wipe excess ExoShield off of the wood. We recommend letting the stain soak into the wood ...

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By Steve Getsiv, 02/18/19

How to Prepare Your Deck Correctly for Wood Stain

Now that you have decided to use ExoShield Wood Deck stain, let’s discuss the most effective methods to achieve optimal results. Follow the below steps for proper surface preparation before applying ExoShield Wood Deck stain to your deck.

Angelim Pedra 5/4x6 Decking Before Refinishing

Start the surface preparation by cleaning the deck boards. This will remove of all the grime, dust and mildew that exists. The goal is to apply ExoShield stain to clean, fresh and bright wood – as close to the original color as possible. Applying ExoShield over gray weathered wood will just seal in the undesirable color and weathered appearance.

Proper Steps for Deck Preparation

    There are three distinct steps that can optionally be utilized for proper deck preparation:
  • 1. The first optional step is using wood cleaners and brighteners – these can help but are rarely enough on their own unless you are starting with practically new wood.
  • 2. Pressure washing is the key step in properly preparing your deck for ExoShield wood stain. We almost always recommend pressure washing.
  • 3. The final optional step is sanding which is usually only necessary in extreme cases.

Wood Cleaners and Brighteners

Wood Cleaner and Brightener

Wood cleaners and wood brighteners are separate components but are applied in a similar manner. They come in a powder form and should be mixed with water in a 5 gallon pail or garden sprayer, according to the manufacturer's directions.

When using these wood...

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By Steve Getsiv, 01/14/19

Hardwood Flooring - Made in China
Tariff Issues

I lived in Brazil for nearly 18 years manufacturing and sourcing hardwood flooring. Brazil is my second home. It’s where my wife’s family lives, and where she and my son were born. I love Brazil, and the country’s Amazonian exotic wood flooring and decking were the starting point for NOVA and its ELEMENTAL brand flooring.

Prior to the 2008 Recession and consequent long economic slowdown, Nova had begun importing some flooring products milled and finished in China. Small-leaf Acacia is plantation grown there, Kempas from Indonesia was being milled there and I added these products to our Exotic and World collections. I also added a solid prefinished (PF) American Hickory product made from 100% American Hickory logs exported to China. With the economic downturn, price became more important than ever and the more expensive exotics fell out of favor, so we brought on more China-made price-point products and the SKU’s increased. Solid hand-scraped (HS) birch, HS oak, HS hickory and so on. Ten years ago these mills did a decent job and they never stopped improving, such that today it may be that the highest quality wood flooring manufacture in the world can be found in the best Chinese manufacturers. We live in a fast changing world.

Container Ship Inbound from Asia

South American Wood Flooring Meltdown

Over this same period, the South American wood flooring industry was in melt down. Many of the mills closed up shop permanently, others stopped producing flooring, including Nova Brazil. It just wasn’t profitable or very competitive for a confluence of reasons outside the scope of this discussion, but due to which, and despite my strong link to the Brazilian industry, I began moving my prefinished (PF) South American wood flooring production t...

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By John McGlocklin, 01/07/19

Wood Deck Tiles vs Deck Boards

Why Choose Wood Deck Tiles Over Standard Random Length Deck Boards

Wood deck tiles or patio tiles have become a popular option in lieu of standard long length deck boards, especially in close-to-ground applications. Most manufacturers and suppliers of deck boards do not recommend installation without at least 16" of clearance for ventilation and air flow. Standard long length deck boards are generally provided in 8' through 20' lengths as compared to deck tiles which are typically 24" x 24" or smaller. This article discusses some of these critical installation factors that might encourage the use of interlocking wood deck tiles in place of regular deck boards.

Interlocking Deck TIles in Batu hardwood

The most common problem that we see as a manufacturer and supplier of both deck boards and deck tiles is that many applications require a hardwood deck built very close to the ground or built on a flat surface such as a roof top or deck with a dry space underneath. In this situation, wood decking material has little space to breathe since ventilation is severely limited. If the installer chose to use 1x6 or 5/4x6 nominal boards, the end result will usually be cupped and warped boards. The reason this occurs has nothing to do with the quality of the wood itself and everything to do with the moisture differential created by inadequate ventilation between the tops and bottoms of the deck boards.

Warped and Cupped Hardwood Decking Boards

Narrow vs. Wide Boards - The Most Critical Decision

Whether to use narrow or wide boards is the most criti...

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By Steve Getsiv, 01/02/19

Why Deck Stains Fail

How does your commercial wood exterior look? Is it grayed out, weathered, and blotchy? Are you getting frustrated that your outside deck was just stained and the stain is slowly deteriorating? The issue that you are seeing has to do with inexpensive stain finish that is being applied and used. Components in these finishes make a HUGE difference on whether the deck stain will last.

Batu Decking Dartmouth College 5/4x4 Nova USA Wood
Exterior wood moves way too much. Wood moves due to the change of moisture, specifically in states such as California where there are long dry seasons. The humid weather in the California winter causes the wood to pick up moisture. This moisture allows the cells to expand, creating swelling in the wood. This movement can create a quarter inch of water on a 6-inch wood piece, ending with 20% moisture content. Most stains cannot withstand this and end up failing.

If you purchased a low-cost wood finish to be applied to your exterior deck and the stain is already weathering, it is because the stain uses dyes. Dyes fade and dry out leading the powder residue to wash off in the weather. Dyes are not color stable and lead to wood decay.

Most exterior wood stains are based on a few products. The two common products are water-based stains and oil-based finishes.

Water-based finishes have no protection to exterior wood deck fibers. The finish adds a beautiful color but does not provide any protection because the stain does not harden on the wood. This creates a beautiful finish but it doesn’t last longer than a year.

Vegetable oil and Linseed Oil have similar effects on exterior wood, too. The oil is not able to harden...

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By Steve Getsiv, 11/30/18

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