Merbau is a South East Asian hardwood timber. It is derived largely from areas in South East Asia, Papua New Guinea, and the Pacific islands. It is dark reddish in colour and oil based.
With its high degree of natural durability and strength, it is used externally in engineering, construction and marine applications. Merbau also features in backyards as outdoor furniture, and internally in a range of joinery, flooring and other uses. As it turns well and responds to hand tools it can be applied to more specialised work, such as cabinet making, musical instruments, boat building, carving and tool handles. It holds a durability rating of Class 1 – 2.
The attractive yellow-orange brown hue of freshly cut merbau heartwood deepens or reddens with ageing. This contrasts markedly with the merbau sapwood, which is white, pale yellow or buff coloured. If left untreated, the sapwood is susceptible to lyctid borer attack. Beyond that, merbau is quite resistant to termites and seasons well with kiln or air-drying, exhibiting only a low degrade and very little shrinkage or movement. The grain of merbau can vary but it is usually interlocked or wavy, with a coarse but even texture, often prized for its attractiveness on backsawn material.
Merbau will finish well with paint, stain and polish although resin bleed is common.
Certified Merbau is harvested from tropical forests in in Malaysia, Fiji, Vietnam, the Philippines, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Samoa. The merbau species can grow up to 40 metres in height, with a six-metre trunk diameter. The bushy tree, with distinctive local names, will often form a spreading canopy.
Swadlings partner with a number of key suppliers for Merbau hardwood, decking and flooring products, including TasmanKB.