Introducing Nova's Ambara™ - The Higher Degree of Wood™

By Steve Getsiv, 02/23/24

Ambara™ is Nova's newest thermally modified, naturally durable, and high-grade clear wood for use as siding, cladding and trim.

So Why Do We Need Another Siding Option?

Western Red Cedar (WRC) has become much more difficult to source over the past few years. This is especially true in the clear grades such as A&Btr VG (Vertical Grain or quartersawn). Supply issues have simply pushed pricing levels for clear WRC to astonomical levels. Both Redwood and Alaska Yellow Cedar (AYC) have similar supply constraint issues and therefore have seen similar price increases.

Nova Blog Photo

Above image generated with AI. Looks like an aspirational Cedar house to us.

There is just no substitute in high-end architecture for drop-dead beautiful exterior siding in Clear Natural Wood with Transparent Finishes. The warmth and vibrance of natural wood accent walls is simply stunning when combined with concrete, metal, or painted wood. Some of the most beautiful structures in the world use natural wood accent walls to complement other materials in a perfectly balanced appearance with just the right amount of contrast.

Nova Blog Photo

Going Down The Rabbit Hole with Thermally Modified Hemlock...

Over the past few years, many people have tried to thermally modify Hemlock, especially Hemlock VG. The results are mixed. Hemlock is a difficult species to dry because it's a mix of so many different species within the Tsuga genus. There are sinkers - wood that is next to impossible to dry in a conventional dry kiln. There's Silver Fir, White Fir, Grand Fir, etc. - and there's an invasive species of sap-feeding insect called the Balsam woolly adelgid that can infest fir trees throughout the US. Balsam infestation changes the wood by increasing density and darkening the natural color.

Hemlock is also somewhat challenging to procure, just like Cedar. Wide Hemlock, even 1x8 VG, is much, much more expensive than 1x4 or 1x6 VG Hemlock. The trees just aren't big enough to generate enough high quality, wide width, vertical grain boards to fill demand - and that's in spite of Hemlock's issues.

Hemlock is known as difficult to stain - it ends up kinda blotchy. Even water popping (first sanding and then opening up the grain with a damp wipe) doesn't help get the stain color to absorb evenly. Apparently, there used to be a wood conditioner product made by Charles Neil which was essentially very diluted Elmer's glue which you can use to pre-treat difficult to stain woods like Hemlock and Maple. Let's just stop there. Enough about Hemlock.

What is So Special about Nova's Ambara™?

Nova Blog Photo

We start with Ayous or Obeche hardwood from West Africa. Ayous is well known as a great wood for making low-cost plywood and clear lumber, but it's not naturally durable - and it's low in density similar to Western US softwoods such as WRC, Redwood and AYC. It has never been a "valuable" hardwood species as lumber. But thermal modification totally changes the game - changing the wood into a naturally durable, incredibly stable, and consistent caramel colored piece of lumber. Before thermal modification, Ayous is a blond, straw, pale yellow color - not the most attractive stuff. After modification, well, Holy Bajeebers!!

Nova Blog Photo

Ambara™ is Thermally Modified in a Closed System

Nova Blog Photo

The thermal modification process itself is MUCH more complicated than simple kiln drying. Open systems do not control pressure; they only control temperature and humidity; and they attempt to control the Oxygen level somewhat inconsistently. Closed systems allow for perfect control of pressure, temperature, humidity and Oxygen levels. We use a closed system so our Ambara™ is perfectly consistent in terms of thermal modification of color, strength, stiffness and internal tension (of which there is none).

Ambara™ can be Sorted for Vertical Grain and Flat Grain

Nova Blog Photo

We understand that lots of customers want a super consistent appearance in their wood siding - this is especially true for a more contemporary architectural style. Why spoil a perfecting beautiful straight grain / ribbon grain appearance with a cathederal grain (true plain sawn or flat sawn) board? You can have it all if you can afford it! We aim to please. And if you're looking for a deal, just ask us about our MG (mixed grain) or pure FG (flat grain) offerings.

Ambara™ Does Not Split When Nailed

Nova Blog Photo

Thermal modification is known to make wood more brittle. Our unique "closed system" process does the thermal modification job without hurting the wood's ability to resist splitting. We did some extreme air gun nailing tests to prove our Ambara™ won't split when nailed, even right on the edge. Wow.

Nova Blog Photo

Ambara™ is Super Stable - Movement under 2% with Humidity Changes

We have had multiple ongoing tests just to see how stable our Ambara™ really is. After 3 weeks of soaking under water, our test samples have moved less than 2%. Again, that is absolutely soaking wet, submersed under water. What's amazing is that the wood actually holds moisture but not in the cell walls - so the moisture does not change the dimensions of the wood. The thermal modification process locks down the cell walls so they cannot absorb moisture.

Ambara™ is Available in Wide Widths up to 12"

Nova Blog Photo

The logs are huge - and that means we can get some really big pieces, even vertical grain 12"!! We are keeping 1x12, 5/4x12 and 2x12 in inventory, as well as great selection of boards from 1x4 through 1x8. Every size can be resawn or ripped without fear of warping, cupping or any other movement. This stuff is rock solid stable.

Ambara™ is Easy to Stain

Nova Blog Photo

We are just blown away by how easily our Ambara™ takes a stain! Our ExoShield Platinum and Antique Bronze look fantastic. And our Black Walnut ExoShield can make for a fabulous accent color. The chatoyance (love that word) is just amazing. This is not your grandpa's Cedar, people.

Ambara™ Installation is Similar to Cedar

You can follow all of the same installation techniques as you would for Western Red Cedar when it comes to installing Ambara™. The big difference is that Ambara™ is more stable so you don't have to be quite so concerned with acclimation. We still recommend that you follow best practices for acclimation and installation - all of which are designed around WRC which has a 4-5% movement and some tendency to cup, especially in FG boards. You can easily use Ambara™ MG or all FG in applications that require VG in WRC. Too many acronyms for you? WRC = Western Red Cedar, FG = Flat Grain, MG = Mixed Grain, VG = Vertical Grain.

Nova Blog Photo

Click to Download Our PDF Installation Guide

Ambara™ is Available Today!

We are committed to keeping inventory on the ground in Ambara™. Today, we have a wide range of sizes available from 1x4 through 2x12. Fill out our inquiry form with project details and we'll do our best to get you pricing and availability as soon as possible.

Come See Us at IBS in Las Vegas, Feb 27-29, Booth C4748

Nova Blog Photo

Read more about our Ambara™ by clicking here.

By Steve Getsiv, 02/23/24

"Thus looks like a great product that is able to substitute for the unavailable options in my region. Where might I find inventory in the Iacific Nirthwest?"

By Wlliam McCallum on 04/06/24

"Salt water environment ?."

By Myron Macdonald on 04/11/24

"Does it come in 5/4 x 4 x 12 that can be used for decking? If so, cost (delivered)?"

By Paul Loether on 04/19/24

"Hi, I’ve got a project coming up that requires exterior siding. Can I get a sample of this product? Alan 360-622-6297"

By Di Bona Alan on 06/08/24

Display Name:
Contact Email:


please be respectful of others' opinions and do not use profanity.

comments may be edited for objectionable content.

Email addresses are not publicly posted, and are used to follow up directly with your comment as needed.

Blog Articles by Year

Sign up for our Newsletter

Search our Website