Hardwood Timber

Choosing the right timber for your deck can add years of life and add beauty to your home. For the look of natural timber combined with durability, it is hard to go past a good hardwood deck. The following Hardwood timbers are commonly available in most parts of Australia, and have a recommendation based on factors such as appearance, durability, and sustainability. No doubt cost will also be a factor in your final choice, but given the overall expense in building a deck it shouldn't be the first consideration.


Spotted Gum Highly Recommended

Spotted Gum is currently the most commonly harvested natural hardwood in Queensland at the current time. There is also extensive plantations being established to ensure future supplies. Also known as lemon-scented gum and spotted iron gum, these trees can grow as high as 45m with a trunk diameter or 1.3m. The trees have long, slender trunks with smooth bark that sheds in patches giving the tree its popular name.

The heartwood of spotted gum varies from pale brown thru to dark browns and even some with a hint of orange. It has a tight grain with a wavy appearance and sometimes features a "fiddleback" appearance. 

Common uses for spotted gum include decking, flooring, lining boards (internal and external), boatbuilding, tool handles, joinery, large section architectural beams and columns. 

Available in stress grades F11, F14, F17, F22 as unseasoned timber and also F27 and F34 seasoned kiln dried timber. It has durability of class 1 above ground and class 2 below ground, as well as being termite and fire resistant.

It also easily accepts oils and stains, and with its low tannin content, will stain less than other species!


Merbau Recommended with caution

Merbau is readily available at most timber merchants in Australia and is possibly the most widely used timber for hardwood decks. It is also known as Kwila, Ipil, Vesa, or Scrub Mahogany. It grows naturally throughout South-east Asia and also in Johnston Creek, a specific area near the Daintree rainforest, North Queensland. Much of the Merbau that is imported into Australia has come from virgin rainforest and has been logged illegally. Look for the FSC logo, or ecotimber for Merbau that has been sustainably logged.

Merbau quickly darkens after cutting, with colours varying from red to deep red and dark brown. It has a tight but varying grain, with a ribbon appearance.

Common uses for Merbau include Decking, pergolas, stairs, outdoor furniture, boat-building, and joinery.

Available in stress grades F8, F11, F14, F17, F27 in unseasoned and F11, F14, F17, F22, and F27 in seasoned kiln dried timber. It has a durability rating of 1above ground, and 3 below ground as well as being termite and fire resistant.

Warning! Merbau has a high tannin bleed and will stain any brickwork, concrete paths and tiles that it comes into contact with.

Tallowood Highly Recommended

Tallowwood is a Eucalyptus tree that grows from the hunter valley in NSW up to mid north QLD in the coastal areas. The trees grow to 40m and occasionally up to 70m high. It is available throughout NSW and Qld at most timber merchants for decking and flooring, and also in larger sections at specialist suppliers and mills.

Available in stress grades F8 - F27 Unseasoned and F14 - F34 Seasoned kiln-dried timber. It has a durability rating of Class 1 above ground, and Class 1 below ground, as well as being termite resistant and a moderate degree of fire resistance.

It has a greasy, waxy surface, so it is best to leave for a few weeks in the weather after laying before oiling or staining. Then clean thoroughly and sand prior to finishing.

Caution! High tannin content will cause staining!

Blackbutt Highly Recommend

Blackbutt is available commercially as plantation grown timber in NSW and southern Qld. It is readily available from most timber merchants as decking, flooring and structural timbers. Blackbutt grows to around 40-60m high and 1-2m trunk diameter. 

Blackbutt gets its name because of how the butt of the tree is blackened after bushfire. The timber itself is a pale-brown, with a pink colour when it is freshly cut. 

 Common uses for Blackbutt include decking, flooring, structural timbers, Wharf and bridge construction, railway sleepers, and joinery. 

Available in stress grades F8-F17 Unseasoned and F14-F34 Seasoned. It has a durability rating of Class 1 above ground and Class 2 below ground. It is termite resistant and fire resistant. 

 Caution! Blackbutt has high tannin bleed and will stain.

Turpentine Recommended with caution

Turpentine is found along the coastal areas of New South Wales and South East Qld. It is available in limited quantities from selected timber suppliers for decking and flooring. 

 Turpentine has a reddish brown colour, with a tinge of pink when freshly cut. 

Common uses for turpentine include flooring and decking. Its high durability and high silica content however make it ideal for timber piles, bearers and joists and boards in marine environments. Because of these qualities it will also make a very durable deck. The downside to using it for decking boards is it has a tendency to develop surface cracks and it is difficult to maintain a good appearance over the years. 

Turpentine is available in stress grades F11 and 14 unseasoned, and F17 to 27 seasoned. It has a strength grade of 3, durability grade of 1 above ground, and 2 in ground. It is termite resistant.

Caution! Turpentine will leave dark stains on any concrete or tiled surface below!

Blue Gum

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