A beautiful hardwood timber species deriving from a few locations around the world, merbau comes from the Kwila tree. The species is found in tropical climates in locations such as Queensland, Australia and Indo Pacific islands like Fiji, and Samoa, as well as Tanzania, India, and Madagascar. Merbau is used mainly for flooring, decking, marine construction, outdoor furniture, music instruments, and more.
This hardwood is popular for its unique beauty, often compared to that of jarrah. It’s known for its unparalleled resilience and usability, along with the resistance to termites and weathering that comes with some merbau timber varieties. The best way to decide on deck boards is by weighing the pros and cons; here is a list of the good, the bad and the ugly that come when decking with merbau.
Advantages of Merbau Timber
Decking experts and carpenters choose merbau for a variety of reasons; the main reasons being its unique beauty, resilience compared to other timber decking, and the variety of uses of merbau, along with its comparatively high resistance to termites and weathering.
More advantages include:
Merbau timber is known for its enticing orange golden-brown colour and contrasting sapwood in a soft yellow to ivory white, which can be lightened or darkened with oils based on user preference.
Pro-tip: It’s important to seal and protect your deck; decking oil will increase the merbau deck’s life. There are 2 types of oils in the market: water-based and oil-based. Since merbau contains natural oils, it is recommended to use a water-based oil to protect the function and aesthetics of your timber deck.
If you’re using water-based oil, the deck oiling process will take a day to complete. Oil-based decking products are traditionally used for their penetrative qualities, as they seep into the wood and give it a polished look. These oils are best used on naturally dry wood.
The colour selection for the oils can depend on the colour of your merbau and your desired look; merbau is very easy to lighten or darken based on your preference.
Merbau is perfect for a range of uses; it’s a versatile timber that can be used for outdoor decking, flooring, cladding, and furniture. Merbau is durable, easy to work with and resistant to insect infestations.
Disadvantages of Merbau Timber
It’s important to not be swayed by only the positives of merbau decking and to consider the whole picture. Once you look past merbau’s attractive qualities, you’ll see that it falls short in a number of areas.
Oily and Messy
Merbau grows in the rainforest and has a high tannin or oil content. The tannin is an oily compound that causes the timber’s colours to bleed when wet. This is something to consider when choosing a decking timber– any materials (paving, walls, concrete) near your deck might be stained if (or when!) your merbau deck bleeds.
The ugly truth about Merbau timber, like other timbers, is that it causes deforestation of rainforests. This becomes especially problematic when the wood is imported from Asia and continents where the priority for sustainable logging practices is lower. Unsustainable logging practices over the years have made Merbau and other timbers expensive, on your wallet and on the environment.
Pro-tip: If you care about minimising your impact on the earth’s forests, composite decking may be a good option for you. Most composite decks are made of recyclable materials and do not destroy rainforests. This is made easy with brands like Trex, who are committed to sustainability, without sacrificing aesthetics or durability.
The cost of merbau decking, like all quality timbers, isn’t just a one-off. When decking with timber, you’ll pay the upfront materials cost, the installation cost and the cost of ongoing maintenance.
The hidden costs for merbau come from the maintenance cost; merbau requires staining on a 3 to 6-month basis forever.
Merbau may be a great decking option for you with natural durability and a beautiful appearance.
Decking Perth are your one stop shop for timber and composite decking in Perth and Western Australia. We offer decking services, include connecting you to a deck expert from our large database of experienced, pre-screened installers who can install the deck of your choice for your home.
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