September-October 2016 | WOOD WORKING

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RIGHT AT HOME

WOOD WORKING

Look no further than Bethany Beach to find Kebony — an ecologically friendly wood product that boasts beautiful features, functionality and innovative technology

Written By: Robbie Tarpley Raffish

Each day this summer, thousands of people will have stepped out onto the Bethany Beach Boardwalk, a mile-long, 150-foot wide walkway paralleling the ocean. You may wonder what stands out about this man-made track. The answer is… nothing. At least not under their feet, because in 2012, the Bethany Beach replaced its older traditional “boards” with a new walkway, featuring an innovative wood product called Kebony® — a renovation that enables guests and residents of the town to appreciate the beauty of the Shore and power of the ocean without distraction.

Developed in Norway and sold nationwide in the U.S., Kebony is attractive, strong, waterproof and long-wearing — in a word, perfect for the waterfront environments of Delmarva’s beaches and bays.

“The biggest challenge homeowners, businesses and municipalities have when building at the water is how quickly wood wears,” said LEED AP Landscape Architect Greg Weykamp of Edgewater Resources in St. Joseph, Michigan. Weykamp has used Kebony wood on a number of marina, restaurant and waterfront projects. “People love the look of hardwoods, especially how they ‘gray’ with a patina when they weather, but the replacement rate can be as much as 15 to 20 percent in the first year alone. Kebony eliminates that issue.”

The technology that creates Kebony is an environmentally friendly, patented process that enhances the properties of sustainable softwood, such as, pine through the infusion of a natural, bio-based liquid. This permanently modifies the wood, giving Kebony the characteristics of premium hardwood and a rich brown color that weathers with a popular and attractive patina. 

Wear and color are just two benefits of Kebony. According to Andy Hehl, manager for Kebony U.S., it is an ecological alternative to tropical hardwoods.

“People love how tropical hardwoods look when they are installed, but the trees take years and years to grow,” said Hehl. “And, when hardwoods are used in decking, home-and-building siding and similar applications, they wear quickly. Kebony is wood — but it is fast-growing softwood that is altered in an environmentally sustainable way. This allows it to wear better, longer and at a competitive cost to many hardwoods, without the negative impact on hardwood forests.”

A piece of lumber may look solid to a layperson, but as a living entity it really comprises cells. The thicker the cells, the more solid the wood. Kebony technology modifies fast-growth wood by “pickling” the organic furfuryl alcohol rendered from agricultural crop waste. Once soaked, the wood is cured with heat, which stabilizes it by locking resulting polymers into the wood cells.   

The process permanently makes the wood-cell walls 50 percent thicker, providing outstanding stability, maximum hardness and a guaranteed long life. It won’t splinter as much as other wood products and species, contains no toxins or chemicals and does not get too hot in the summer. It is also resistant to rot, fungi and other wood-destroying microorganisms, making it ideal for exterior applications that demand high performance and a refined look.

“We’ve specified Kebony wherever we could for the last four or five years, and we’ve laid down nearly 40,000 square feet of it at this point. I can’t recall ever having to replace a single piece,” said Weykamp. “With Kebony, there’s almost no movement, cracking or splitting, and you can clean it with a power washer. It’s very durable and looks great; it wins against hardwoods, hands down.”

Visitors to The Wharf in Washington, D.C. — a $2 billion commercial and residential development opening in October 2017 — will experience more than 100,000 square feet of Kebony decking and storefront cladding. Development company Hoffman-Madison Waterfront has specified the product throughout much of the project, which is being built on the Potomac River. 

Kebony Corporation has received numerous awards for its environmentally friendly technology and innovation, including being named a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum.  Pine River Group, which is based in Michigan, is the Master Distributor of Kebony products in the U.S. and has a team fully dedicated to market Kebony in the U.S. Pine River Group’s parent company, Biewer Lumber, LLC, was founded nearly 50 years ago and is a third-generation, family-owned group of companies committed to the environment and sound forest practices. For more information about Kebony, visit Kebony.com

 


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