Category Archives: Wood Selections

Changing the size and number of boards in your condo decking tiles can make a big difference in the look.
Larger condo deck tiles.

Larger condo deck tiles.

Long, Narrow Board Look

Long, narrow boards used in deck tiles can really change the look and feel of a condo balcony.  Compare this balcony with one that uses fewer boards and smaller tiles.

 

 

 

 

Smaller condo deck tiles.

Smaller condo deck tiles.

One isn't better than the other, they just show a different look and feel.  On a large balcony (like above) it is often better to have your deck tiles built larger and use more boards in each tile.  In the case above, I would normally recommend 6 in. boards (as opposed to 4 in. which are used here) as it will make it less "busy".

For a smaller balcony, narrower boards with fewer boards per tile will make this "parquet" look really come alive.

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Contrasting your balcony flooring pattern with your inside room can create a completely different room.

Condo Balcony Contrast

A question I always get asked is whether the condo balcony flooring should contrast with the inside flooring or be similar.  No clear answer of course as it depends on taste but one way to go is to contrast your balcony flooring completely with your inside floors.

In this example, the owner has the boards on the condo floor running in the opposite direction.  They have also chosen a completely different wood, stain colour and pattern.

As a nice addition, they have built a great sitting and table area on the outside edge, made of the same wood.

IPE is a beautiful wood but for your Canadian condo, cedar is much cheaper, prettier and more environmentally friendly.
IPE decking tiles

IPE decking tiles

The IPE versus Cedar Battle!

IPE is one of the many Brazilian hardwoods that are often used for outside decking and flooring.  We don't use it at Terrace Creations but are asked about it often and therefore it's always good to have some answers for folks.

First of all, what are the advantages and disadvantages of using IPE versus cedar?  Both of the woods silver with age and last a long time (40+ years for IPE, 20+ for cedar but more on that below).  IPE has a higher fire rating (A versus B with A being the same as steel or concrete) and is a lot harder than cedar.  IPE rarely warps or cracks (as long as it is thicker than many of the decking tile companies use) while cedar can certainly do both with age.

Cedar on the other hand is a much softer wood than IPE which means it feels nicer on bare feet.   Cedar is a great deal cheaper (as much as one third or more).  Cedar also has more knots and movement in the structure which greatly appeals to many customers.  IPE has few or no knots.  IPE tends to be darker and harder to stain as well, so most IPE installations are the light brown of the actual wood colour.

For the environment, cedar is grown right here in Canada and all our cedar comes from environmentally managed forests.  You can get FSC IPE but I always worry about if that is absolutely true and once you add on the environmental costs of transport, it becomes more worrisome.  As far as longevity goes, on a condo balcony (versus a cedar deck at a cottage), cedar will probably last 25+ years because it is usually protected by the balcony above and the elements in general.  25+ years is probably more than enough for most people who live in a condo!

In summary, if I was going to do a very large, commercial, outdoor deck where I didn't want to worry about any problems and budget was no issue, I might think about IPE.  For most condos though, cedar (and treated wood) is a great alternative and is much more environmentally friendly.

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Tiles made of a real decking wood and framed in are a classy way to go with your balcony.

Framed Balcony Tiles

There are lots of balcony tiles out there.  Most are made of cheap or thin wood with a plastic backing.  The best balcony tiles are made out of real decking wood (5/4 works well) with a strong wood backing and a connector system.

I like these balcony tiles because they combine the tile look with a "frame" around each tile.  The boards are also thinner than most, probably 3  or 4 in.