Everything You Need To Know
With all the types of timber available, it can be hard to decide which one is right for you. At Narangba Timbers, we’re the experts in one of the most popular timbers in Australia: Merbau (also known as Kwila).
- What is Merbau?
- Why is Merbau so popular for timber decking?
- What are the other uses for Merbau?
What is Merbau?
A local and overseas timber, Merbau grows in northern Queensland and continues up into Asia. Its heartwood is orange-yellow-brown when freshly harvested, but develops into a deeper red-brown as it ages. In contrast, the sapwood is pale yellow, white or buff coloured.
Most Merbau has a wavy and interlocked grain – one of the reasons why it’s so popular. When sealed with a clear coating, or lightly stained with a semi-transparent finish, Merbau has a distinct and attractive appearance. Those who don’t care about the grain will be happy to know that it holds paint well too.
While coarse in texture, Merbau retains a moderate lustre. There are also mineral deposits in most Merbau, which provides another distinguishing feature.
Why is Merbau so popular for timber decking?
Merbau is the timber of choice for decking in not just Brisbane, but throughout Australia. It’s perfect for the wear and tear of foot traffic that comes with decking and for supporting the weight of people and furniture.
Merbau is known for its durability. It has a Class 1 durability rating when used above ground and a Class 3 rating when used in-ground. This means that – when used as deck planks, boards or rails – it can last for over 40 years (with an average life expectancy of 25 years).
The natural oils in Merbau help prevent cracking, splitting and shrinkage – while also allowing it to endure harsh temperatures and climates, salt water and other extreme conditions. It has natural resistance to both termites and fungal rotting, and it is suitable to use in areas susceptible to bushfires.
Even though Merbau is durable and strong, it still responds well to hand tools – a characteristic that some other hardwoods don’t share. It cuts cleanly and glues and nails together well, making it easy to use in a variety of projects. However, you’ll still want to pre-bore all holes for fasteners.
Thanks to its inherent strength, Merbau isn’t only for residential decking and flooring. It’s also used in shipbuilding, construction and engineering. While its natural appearance is gorgeous, you can finish it with paint, polish or stain and achieve outstanding results that match your desired aesthetic.
While Merbau has several great qualities, many people love it simply because of its stunning good looks. Aside from its rich red-brown hue unique grain, small golden or yellow flecks often permeate Merbau, which easily differentiates it from similar species and gives it an exotic edge.
Like all timber, Merbau’s maintenance requirements will depend on the conditions it is exposed to. However, its inherent qualities mean that it requires comparatively little maintenance. A simple clean with soapy water and a stiff-bristled brush, along with a coat of high-quality oil, every 12 months is often enough.
Local and sustainable
Because it’s often harvested from forests, it’s crucial to know where your Merbau is coming from. At Narangba Timbers, we go to great lengths to ensure that all our timber is from ecologically sustainable and ethical suppliers. Always make sure that your Merbau was obtained from genuine, well-managed and eco-friendly sources.
What are the other uses for Merbau?
As one of the most attractive and durable hardwoods, Merbau is often the best choice for any kind of home renovation. Aside from being a timber decking favourite, Merbau is also a best-seller for:
Talk to the Decksperts
The team at Narangba Timbers have decades of knowledge about both Merbau timber and decking. If you have any questions, start with our Decking FAQ and Calculator. Need more advice, book a consultation for expert guidance on your next project.