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Choosing timber for your joinery

 

Although Meranti is the most commonly used timber for exterior joinery in South Africa, the quality being imported into the country has deteriorated over the years, and many people are looking for alternative timbers in preference to reverting to aluminium. The following is a list of alternative timbers suitable for our climate:

 

Burmese Teak

This is the premier timber for all exterior use, as it is extremely durable and stable. Due to the presence of oils in the wood (the reason for its durability) it is difficult to glue this timber. Burmese Teak is prohibitively expensive, and for this reason we don’t hold stock, but will order for clients.

 

Western Red Cedar

Although extremely durable, Western Red Cedar is soft and light in weight. It is also light in colour, ranging from reddish to a pink-brown with darker bands. It is commonly used for pergolas, shingles and exterior cladding.

 

Afromosia

After Teak, this is our most durable timber, and is most suitable for all outdoor applications. It is rot-resistant, and resilient against termites and borer beetles. After machining, it is yellowish in colour, but oxidises over time to a darker brown with ribbon detail. It glues and sands easily and finishes very well. It is also commonly known as African Teak due to its resemblance to Burma Teak.

 

Sapele

Sapele is very durable and easy to work with, and should be the timber of choice where the wood is being painted. It is also beautiful with a simple clear varnish or oil, as it has a uniform mahogany colour. While Sapele is difficult to cure, it is very stable once dry.  Apart from logs, we carry Sapele scantlings specifically manufactured for extra stability for double-glazed window joinery.

 

Iroko

Although it’s very durable, Iroko doesn’t have the same stability as the other timbers. The origin of Iroko is vitally important as timber from heavily harvested regions tends to be less stable due to the presence of sap, and the smaller logs have more variable grain. We only buy from one supplier in the Congo Basin where trees are older and bigger. After machining, Iroko is yellowish but turns golden brown with age.

 

Kiaat

Kiaat is a member of the Pteracarpus family, which are known to be the most stable of all timbers. It is lighter in weight than other timbers, and not as durable under severe weather conditions. Kiaat is predominantly chocolate-brown but can be variegated with lighter brown, white and even streaks of red.