If you are a fan of carpentry and often wander around looking for the perfect piece of artwork, you might come across an item claimed to be made from rubberwood. But what is rubberwood exactly? Where does it come from? What are the specifications? And how can you best utilize rubberwood for household usage?
The answer lies in the details below. Learn more about the ins and outs of this amazing material through today’s article!
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Also known as plantation hardwood or parawood, rubberwood is an affordable, light material extracted from rubber trees.
After the trees reach a certain age, farmers will harvest them for latex, which starts roughly from the 6th-7th year to the 25th-30th year. Once the latex already dries up, the rubber trees are cut down. Subsequently, their cores go through a few steps of treatment before turning into rubberwood as we know it today.
While rubber trees are originally native to the Amazon region, they have spread out all over the world and become prominent in different areas, especially in Southeast Asia. Another country famous for its rubberwood production is Brazil, where impressive plantations grow deep within the Amazon forest.
In the past, rubber trees were only known for their latex yields. It was not until the 1980s that people noticed the qualities of their heartwood and sapwood. Upon closer inspection, rubberwood has proven to be an excellent addition to the timber industry due to its low cost, durability, and environmental friendliness!
The name rubberwood can be misleading since many customers are under the impression that rubberwood is bendable and elastic, just like latex. This cannot be further from the truth. When compared to other traditional, well-known types of wood like ash or maple, rubberwood shows the same level of weight and density. Furthermore, it provides a medium texture that can be used for multiple purposes and is relatively hard upon direct contact.
If you want to have some visual aids of how rubberwood looks like, here is a Youtube video offering a closer look.
When freshly taken out of the woods, you can instantly see the heartwood and sapwood of rubber trees sharing the same shade of light blond or medium tan. Due to this similarity, it is impossible to tell the two parts apart. After extensive usage and frequent exposure to the heat and light, the initial hue gradually turns darker. Brown streaks are developed on the surface, along with stains and discolorations. In some cases, a layer of pinkish tint is also visible.
Rubberwood is arguably among the easiest materials to handle. Whether with hands or professional tools, whoever is working on rubberwood can safely implement different processes without much struggle. It takes well to glue, finish, or stain and remains highly stable after being dried and seasoned. So feel free to paint, engrave, or nail it in any way you like!
When first sawn, rubberwood exudes a sour smell, which can be appalling for workers. It resembles the smell of newly harvested latex and is highly aggressive when being greened. But rest assured that after kiln-drying, rubberwood will come out virtually odorless.
One of the reasons why environmentalists love rubberwood is its nature. To put it simply, rubberwood does not require cutting down trees indiscriminately.
Before the wood is collected, any rubber tree has already gone through approximately 30 years of producing latex. Farmers usually wait until the latex production drops in both quantity and quality before chopping the trees off. Thus, rubberwood is the second item that comes from a single plant, effectively maximizing its usefulness throughout an entire life cycle.
If it had not been for rubberwood consumption, the futile rubber trees would have been burned anyway. And you do not have to be a scientist to understand the negative impact such an action can exert on the ecosystem.
As stated above, rubberwood comes from a renewable source. Rubber trees are planted and felled on a regular basis, so they never end up running out of stock. Therefore, this material is highly accessible at any time of the year.
After being chemically treated and processed, rubberwood prides itself on being highly durable and sturdy. That is not to mention its tendencies to stay intact despite any shrinkage or cracking. When combined, the material is perfect for indoor furniture or other household wooden gadgets.
Typically, you can find chairs, tabletops, bed frames, wardrobes, countertops, cutting boards, cabinets, etc., made from rubberwood. Children’s toys are also an area dependent on this type of timber.
Still, there is one thing worth noting when it comes to rubberwood pieces. Due to their perishability and susceptibility to external attacks, rubberwood does not do well when placed outdoors for a long time. Rains and other extreme weather conditions will otherwise affect the protective layers of chemical substances, exposing the insides of the wood to fungi and insects.
Rubberwood is not waterproof and can quickly deteriorate if the humidity rate is too high.
Rubberwood is subject to chemical treatment before being widely used. In fact, most pieces of rubberwood cannot work out as expected without external intervention. This is due to their vulnerability to insects, natural decay, and fungi.
Therefore, after harvested, rubberwood is deeply submerged into a container of boron preservatives, using both the substance and the water pressure to add an extra layer of protection. Afterward, the wood is dried using a kiln, which lowers the concentration of chemicals and reduces the moisture percentage.
Rubberwood is best known for being the number one material in furniture manufacturing. If you happen to own a piece, make sure to follow the tips below for easy maintenance.
Hopefully, after reading this comprehensive guide, you can address the question “What is rubberwood?” with confidence. If you find this piece of article helpful, do not hesitate to bookmark it for later use!