Is there anything more enjoyable than an evening spent barbequing some great food and enjoying time with your friends and family? We don’t think so – especially when it’s all done on a beautiful, sturdy Merbau patio deck.
Haven’t heard about Merbau timber decks? You’re in for a real treat then. One of Australia’s most popular outdoor flooring options, Merbau timber offers an unparalleled level of durability, versatility and beauty that you’re going to fall in love with.
If you're considering installing an outdoor deck, you can utilise this handy guide to Merbau to ensure that you’re choosing the best product for your needs.
What is Merbau Timber?
Merbau trees go by many names – Kwila, Ipil and Vesi, among others – but they all describe a beautiful, unique hardwood that’s highly sought-after for a variety of indoor and outdoor projects.
The trees are truly giants and can grow as tall as 60 metres and have a diameter of 1.5 metres. They sport huge canopies and create a dramatic and majestic sight.
Merbau timber is primarily found along the Pacific Rim (especially in the Philippines, Malaysia and the Pacific Islands) and is prevalent throughout Northern Queensland. The timber is available throughout Australia, though it is important to ensure that you’re receiving sustainably sourced timber (but more on that later).
Merbau wood is highly sought-after for its numerous benefits, which make it a favourite of architects, designers and homeowners alike.
What Are the Characteristics of Merbau Timber?
Merbau timber has a beautiful warm colour that begins as an orange-brown and reddens with age. The sapwood is a sharp contrast and can be any colour from buff to pale yellow. The Merbau sports an interlocked and wavy grain pattern, giving it both an intriguing look and feel.
Thanks to its incredible versatility, Merbau has become a popular choice for everything from fencing and decking to boat building and instruments.
It gets its exceptional strength in part from a high oil content. Just how strong is it? When used above-ground, Merbau is rated as a class 1 timber (the highest rating possible) and carries a class 2 rating when used in the ground.
What Are the Technical Properties of Merbau Timber?
When it comes to outdoor uses for Merbau timber, such as Merbau decking, it’s important to consider the technical elements of the wood.
To begin with, Merbau is generally easy to work with, though there are other woods that may be easier. Hand tools are often the easiest way to work with Merbau, though machinery may also be used. It’s important to note that the highly oily and thick nature of the wood may cause cutting edges to become blunt or gummed up.
Merbau timber will take most stains, polishes and paints, though it must be properly seasoned or rinsed and cleaned to prevent tannin bleed. However, tannin bleed will only occur for a short time after the wood has been harvested, so don’t be put off by this extra step!
This timber is a great choice for decks, thanks to its minimal shrinkage as well as a natural resistance to extreme heat and weather, insects and rot. Basically, Merbau timber has got a lot going for it!
One of Nature’s Best Hardwoods: The Pros
So, why should you consider Merbau decking? Here are the advantages you can expect when working with Merbau wood.
- Durable and strong. Merbau has an extremely high density and toughness rating, so you can expect it to last for approximately 50 years with proper maintenance and care.
- Easy to work with. Despite its strength, Merbau timber is also amazingly flexible and easy to deal with.
- Highly resistant. Merbau is naturally resistant to insects and rot. It also holds up well against harsh weather, saltwater and even bushfires.
- Beautiful appearance. With its beautiful, rich colours and intriguing textures, Merbau wood will add an eye-catching and breathtaking appearance to your home and yard.
Is It the Best Choice for You? The Cons
While we love Merbau wood, we know that no timber is perfect. Here are some disadvantages to consider when it comes to Merbau.
- Can experience tannin bleed. Merbau wood needs to be washed or left out to season in order to rid itself of any tannins. If this step is not completed, then you may experience tannin bleeding and staining.
- Potential for allergic reactions. Some people may experience an allergic reaction to Merbau oils and sawdust, especially when it is being cut.
- Can be expensive. Compared to other decking options (such as composite decking), Merbau decking can carry a heftier price tag, which makes it less feasible for those on a budget.
- Less environmentally friendly. Merbau trees can take more than 70 years to reach maturation, making it a less sustainable option as compared to faster-growing timber. It is important to ensure that your timber is sourced from reliable and sustainable companies in order to mitigate the environmental impact of using this type of wood.
Protecting Your Investment: Merbau Timber Installation, Care and Maintenance Tips
It’s important to protect your deck by keeping it properly maintained. For Merbau decking, this means keeping it well oiled.
Depending on the climate, how much you use your deck and how you maintain it, you may want to consider oiling your Merbau decking at least every 18 months and sometimes as often as twice a year. Doing so will help protect your deck from moisture damage, prevent the colour from fading and replace any of the natural oils that have been lost.
To oil your patio deck, we suggest using a tin of water-based oil, a soft brush and clean rags (to remove any spills). You can expect to use approximately five litres of oil for every five square metres of decking.
- Clean your deck by sweeping and rinsing the timber and then allowing it to dry.
- Using the soft brush and beginning at one end of the board, make long, continuous strokes to spread a thin and even layer of oil over the wood. Continue until your first coat is done.
- Allow the boards to dry thoroughly and apply a second coat.
Installing Merbau decking requires many of the same steps as other deck installations; however, one important and often overlooked step is to allow the wood to sit and weather for a few days in order to remove any tannins. You may want to consider a professional deck installation company to assist in installing your Merbau deck, as they can help ensure that it is placed properly, safely and securely so that you can enjoy it for years to come.
When it comes to the care and maintenance of your Merbau decking, not only will you want to keep it clean and clear of debris, you should also invest in an oiling kit to ensure that your deck lasts for a lifetime.
Contact the Perth's Patio Experts
If you have any questions or concerns about Merbau timber – get in contact Great Aussie Patios!
If you’re ready for a perfect patio to complement your new Merbau timber deck, call (08) 9493 7116 or send us an enquiry online today!