Merbau may be the most popular hardwood timber decking material in Brisbane.
There are plenty of reasons for this. Merbau is versatile, aesthetically pleasing and durable. It is hard enough to provide a great surface for a deck but pliable enough to be worked with hand tools.
What is Merbau Timber?
Merbau timber comes from the Intsia bijuga which is also known as Borneo teak, Johnstone River teak, Moluccan ironwood, Pacific teak and scrub mahogany.
It is a species of flowering tree in the pea family native to the Indo-Pacific. It grows as far south as Queensland to the Pacific islands of Fiji and Samoa. It’s natural habitat is mangrove forests.
The timber from the tree is commonly known as ipil, merbau or kwila.
What are the Colours of Merbau?
Merbau heartwood is an orange-brown colour which tends to redden as it ages.
The sapwood is usually white or pale yellow.
Merbau is Versatile
We know this piece is talking about timber decking in the Brisbane area, but it is helpful to know that Merbau has many different uses.
Not only is Merbau used for decking, but it is also used for framing, marine applications and engineering applications. It is also used for making outdoor furniture to put on your deck.
Indoors Merbau / Kwila is used for applications such as joinery and flooring.
Merbau is strong and durable enough to provide years of service, but it is extremely workable. This is why it has so many different applications.
As mentioned above, you can easily work it with hand tools. You will want to pre-bore all holes for fasteners, though.
Merbau is very easy to finish. It can be stained, painted or polished.
Most people like to allow the dark red or dark brown colour show through to fully appreciate the beauty of this variety of timber.
In the ground, Merbau is only rated for 5-10 years. But when used above the ground as planks and boards, it is rated to provide 25 or more years of service.
It is resistant to termites and marine borers, though it may be susceptible to lyctid borers. It is only slightly combustible and allowed in bushfire prone areas.
Its natural grain and colour are stunning when presented correctly which is why it is so popular as a decking solution in Queensland.