Strong, durable and simply stunning in appearance; it comes as no surprise that hardwood timber is one of the most sought-after building materials across the world, no matter what the application. From flooring to fencing, furniture to façades, the limit to its uses is almost endless. However, for those unfamiliar with the many species available, understanding the differences between the timbers and their uses can be confusing. We’ve put together this quick guide to help you learn more about Australian and international hardwoods, so you can make an informed decision for your next project.
Hardwood timber is a term that covers dozens of commonly used timbers in the construction industry, the majority of which are far more durable and long-lasting than their softwood counterparts. In this guide, we cover only a few of our favourite species.
- Ironbark is often referred to as the ‘King of Australian Hardwoods’ and is incredibly strong and dense. It offers deep reds and browns to light pinks and greys and has a lifespan of well over 40 years – making it well suited to exterior and below ground applications.
- Spotted gum is known for its striking appearance and well as its durability. Naturally termite resistant and with a lifespan of over 40 years, it can be used for structural, interior and exterior projects.
- Blackbutt provides a warm colour tone and unique grain pattern, making it an excellent feature timber. Strong and straight, it is well suited to a wide range of applications.
- Silvertop ash offers unique markings, gum veins and ring growths – ensuring it is as unique as it is durable. With a lifespan of up to 40 years above ground, it can be used for both flooring and decking, and a range of other applications.
- Jarrah is one of the rarest hardwood timbers available in Australia, making it the ideal choice for those who want a truly luxurious finish.
- American oak is valued for its stable and durable characteristics; with light golden tones that are subtle yet stylish, it is ideal for internal applications such as flooring.
- Merbau is one of the most sought-after timbers around the country, but is actually imported from South East Asia. Featuring an even colour tone, it is loved for its long lifespan, versatility and durability.
- Tasmanian oak and victorian ash are two hardwood timbers that are referred to almost interchangeably – they both offer pale blonde tones, and are readily available and affordable. They are ideal for interior projects such as flooring.
- Red Gum is an icon in Australian timber, known for its deep red hue and remarkable durability. Incredibly dense, this species is well loved within landscaping, building and other industries.
There is a huge range of ways in which hardwood timber can be used both residentially and commercially, with different timbers suited to different applications. For exterior use, a long lifespan is critical – and it may be worth researching the below ground lifespan when considering stumping for fencing and decks – and for high traffic areas, durability is an important factor.
- Timber flooring is one of the most sought-after features in any home, adding style and luxury wherever they are used.
- Lining the interior walls or ceiling with hardwood cladding can be an excellent way to inject warmth into a heritage or rustic home.
- Architraves are critical in creating a completed appearance in new builds and renovations.
- Stairs are one of the most functional aspects of any home, and the use of timber ensures an attractive and durable finish.
- Doors add security and privacy, as well as a sense of style – hardwood timber is a great option internally and externally.
- Decking is a must have feature for those who want to take advantage of their outdoor areas.
- Cladding offers an excellent way to bring character to any façade, from classic to contemporary.
- Landscaping can be achieved with durable hardwood timber sleepers; create garden edging, stairs and retaining walls.
- Fencing can be built in a wide range of designs, using attractive and long-lasting hardwood timber.
- Pergolas are an excellent way to enjoy your property in any weather and create a stunning al fresco entertaining area.
As you can see, there is a huge range of high quality Australian and international hardwoods at your disposal; you just need to know which timber is most ideally suited to your project. Whilst each offers a unique stunning finish and long lifespans, different species react in different ways to the harsh elements – so choosing the best option for your application is critical. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, we recommend speaking with your local hardwood timber specialists, as they can offer advice specific to your project and locale. Whichever you choose, we’re confident you won’t be disappointed with the warmth and character that hardwood can bring to any space.