Have you ever heard of parawood? And do you know what it really is? These are some of the few queries that are frequently asked about it. In a nutshell, parawood is primarily the wood that’s derived from the rubber tree. It is thus also referred to as rubber wood. Other names other than rubber wood and parawood used to refer to the wood include Malaysian oak, plantation hardwood or white teak. A sizable part of the population also prefers to use the genus name Hevea to refer to the wood.
An Overview of the Rubber Tree
The rubber tree extensively grows in Indonesia, India and Central America, and can also be found in some other regions of the world though not predominantly. The rubber tree produces a light-colored hardwood, characterized with medium-density. Rubber trees are predominantly grown for the latex they secrete which is in turn used in the production of commercial rubber. Since parawood is only gotten from the rubber trees after the trees have been fallen at the end of its production cycle, the wood is considered environmentally-friendly. When old trees are felled, new ones are grown hence parawood is only harvested from renewable sources.
Latex production usually starts when the tree is about five years old and goes on for up to 30 years. At 25 years, the trees are about 80 feet in height. This is capable of producing some very good timber that is commonly used in the construction of furniture but only when chemically treated.
Popular Uses of Parawood
One of the main pros of the rubber wood is its dense grain, which ideally is responsible for the hardness of this hardwood. Drying of the timber is carefully controlled in the kiln drying process. The wood is very strong, durable and hard but cuts and saws easily with relatively uniform staining also being its characteristic. These make it a choice wood for use in making furniture as well as children toys and kitchen accessories. As a hardwood, the timber comes in a number of quality grades.
One limitation of the wood worth mentioning at these primary stages is that the chemicals inherently found in parawood are easily leached by water and downpour. It is therefore not wise to use it for outdoor furniture as this will make it susceptible to fungus and rotting. Outdoors, also over exposes parawood to moisture, which causes serious warping effects on this specific type of wood. Popular uses and applications include in flooring for both offices and homes, block board, veneer and plywood, furniture and cabinetry, finish construction millwork, wood carvings, wooden shuttle block and medium-hard density fiber board etc. in other words, they can virtually be used for all indoor wood related activities.
Any typical hardwood is a perfect choice for home furnishings and the parawood is one such hardwood. Its strength is so impressive that it’s capable to withstand the rigors that are associated with busy lifestyles. Parawood is also easily available in most parts of the world, being offered to the market in either the finished or the unfinished forms. Unlike other hardwoods, this one won’t break the bank thus homeowners are less likely going to feel the pinch. Parawood is popularly used in making a number of home furniture that includes:
- i. Occasional Tables: Some of the great occasional furniture that are made of parawood include coffee tables, kitchen furniture, sofa tables as well as end tables among other
- ii. Kitchen Furniture: Parawood is as hard as oak and maple- woods commonly used in the manufacture of furniture that can withstand daily roughness. Parawood can thus be used in making almost all the kitchen furniture.
- iii. Bedroom Furniture: Parawood is commonly used in making nightstands, dressers, footboards, headboards and vanity cases among other bedroom furniture.
- iv. Parawood Flooring: There are a number of parawood tiling products with black and gray being some of the most common colors though there are multitudes of other colors. You will find numerous mindboggling designs, all of which come with slew benefits.
- v. Children’s Furniture: It is their time to be rough and if they aren’t rough, you get worried. Children can become very rough with items, furniture inclusive. When it comes to furniture, their bedroom sets, toy accessories, beds, rockers, chairs and tables may last longer if made of parawood than when made of ordinary woods.
Recommended Read: The Best Wood for Cutting Board Reviewed
Characteristics of Parawood
a. Appearance & Color
Parawood is mainly characterized with a white color that’s maple like. During its growth, the rubber tree experiences a varied change of colors. At its primary years of growth, the tree develops some slightly light brown color. This color subsequently darkens with time as the tree ages. The light color of the wood is a major selling factor that has favored parawood in the furniture industry. This is because such a light color can easily and widely be stained to numerous color options of choice, taste and preference.
b. Texture and Odor
During its working, the wood is characterized with some odor. The odor in turn disappears as the wood dries up hence as a finished furniture, the wood will not have any characteristic smell.
As far as texture is concerned, parawood has some coarse characteristics, having some pores, which are large and open. Its grains are relatively straight. The rubber wood has an average of about 0.51 basic specific gravity.
Parawood also has a relatively little shrinkage characteristic, an attribute that also makes it to be preferred in the furniture industry. The less the shrinkage capacity, the more stable your ultimate furniture will be.
As compared to other hardwoods, parawood is less disliked due to it relatively low natural resistance to decay and rot. It is therefore one of the most perishable hardwoods in the world. Its low resistance to rot and decay can be attributed to the high starch content present in the tree thus attracting boring insects and by extension, fungal stains. It therefore has to be treated as early as possible and shouldn’t be used for outdoor activities.
The good news is that if you subject the timber to some chemical treatment process, the wood will be available for use in making furniture with the insect and fungal staining worries being well taken care of.
If there is a hardwood that has never got to a point when it can be considered as facing the extinction threat, it is parawood. This is because the trees are always immediately replaced upon harvesting and is mainly grown in plantation. The rubber industry is sustained by the latex from the rubber tree hence they have to always ensure that their raw material is grown in sustainable numbers. The tree is also always only harvested at the end of the tree’s production cycle, when the latex dries up.
Furniture made using this hardwood, are always considered low-end within the hardwood classes due to the relatively reduced prices that they are sold at. Rubber tree is gown in Malaysia, Indonesia and India in large plantations hence the high supply makes it relatively inexpensive. In addition, since wood is not the main economic reason for growing the trees, it easily sells at lower prices yet the industry still makes good profits.
Concerns Related to Parawood
Parawood is liked by wood boring insects when it is still wet. It is therefore very prudent that you immediately dry your parawood after extracting timber so as to take care of such. The wood is also known to be rich in sugar contents, an aspect that also makes it a bit susceptible to insect boring. The wood should therefore be quickly sawn and then treated as this is a sure way of protecting your wood from damage. Pressure treatment can also be employed to reduce fungal stains and insect damage.
· Parawood Staining
This wood is very prone to oxidation, insect infestation and fungus attack, all of which may ultimately result in the staining of the wood. These stains are major concerns before the drying of the wood but can be visibly at any stage even after finishing. It is thus prudent you understand how to work on the wood before you begin working on it.
Parawood is characterized with high moisture contents a characteristic that is highly associated with warping. To make matters worse, this wood is often pressure treated thus adding even more moisture to it. These result to warping, twisting and bowing as well as easy splitting. Cutting the wood using the back sawn method results in to less warping. During curing or rather drying, the least possible spaces should be left between the different sheets of wood as a way of reducing warping.
It is also worth noting that the oven conditions will determine whether the wood will warp or not. A temperature range of 140 degree F to 185 degree F is recommended; with the wood taking a maximum of 12 days in the kiln till it attains an 11% moisture content level.
Recommended Read: Top 10 Strongest Wood in the World
Advantages of Parawood
- Durability: The durability of parawood is unquestionable as its resilience, strength and toughness allows it to last up to more than 20 years when well taken cared for.
- Soft: Unlike other hardwoods, this one is much soft to touch thus its comfort makes it a suitable wood for use on the flooring of your house as you can comfortably walk on them when tired. It is particularly great for use on the flooring of playrooms, living rooms as well as the bedrooms.
- Resistance to Burns and Fire: Since rubber is burn-resistant, you are sure that a cigarette butt won’t cause havoc when it falls on your furniture made of parawood. In addition, parawood is non toxic thus produces toxic-free fumes when burnt on the fire place or even in the kitchen.
- Low Maintenance: The wood has a very superior stain-resistance thus making it very easy to take care off.
- Excellent Shock Absorber: Parawood is generally a good shock absorber thus its popularity of use in gyms. This shock absorption feature helps in the provision of good cushioning that shields those working out from unnecessary injuries. You can thus be assured that the risks of injury when you are doing rigorous workouts are greatly reduced. For those who are advanced in age, parawood in gyms helps reduce the stresses that are commonly felt on the joints thus making it far much easier for such a class to have easier daily movements.
Recommended Read: Top 10 Strongest Wood in the World
- Pricey- Though it is cheaper than other hardwoods, it is still a bit more expensive when compared with other ordinary types of wood.
- Dull Finish- Unlike other woods that are characterized with very bright and shiny finished, this one has a very dull one thus making it to be overlooked by some as a flooring material. It is this feature that makes it not an ideal option for the living room where you really desire for a bright effect.
- Slippage: Smooth parawood must never be chosen for tiling as these can be very slippery when there is water spillage. They become even much worse when they are polished.
- Damage by Water: Parawood chemicals can easily be washed away by water. In addition, the wood is very prone to seepage related issues after its adhesives loosen or when it warps. Though it is generally resistant to water damage, the mentioned issues are of much concern.
- Staining: Parawood is generally resistant to stain but not absolutely. Some stains are known to produce some not very pleasant effects on parawood. Such a staining effect is more so very common with grease as well as some abrasive cleaning solutions and detergents. When grease drops on a parawood floor, take the initiative to wipe immediately so as to prevent such staining effects.
Recommended Read: How To Lighten Stained Wood Using Bleaching Chemicals
The rubber tree is a very pivotal tree in the economic scale of the world because of its latex that’s used in the manufacture of rubber. In like manner, the tree is also very important to the furniture industry because of the good hardwood derived from it. Parawood has numerous advantages that range from its strength, softness and great pricing. This means that you have a durable wood that is easy to deal with when it comes to sawing, gluing and nailing