Merbau (Kwila) Timber - Dress Your Space

Merbau (Kwila) Timber

by Christine Bernardo October 31, 2018

Merbau (Kwila) Timber

Merbau (or Kwila) is a naturally oily hardwood. Merbau is an extremely rich and dense hardwood and is regarded as one of the most durable timbers in the world.  It is able to withstand the most challenging outdoor environments, making it the material of choice for decking and outdoor use.

What are the characteristics of Merbau?

  • Yellowish-brown or orange – brown when first cut. Merbau will turn darker with age to either brown or deep reddish brown.
  • Hardness factor of 8.6
  • Durability Class 2
  • Highly resistant to decay, when the timber has been fully exposed to the weather.
  • Naturally resistant to Termites and Splitting.
  • Minimal Shrinkage
  • Resistant to Surface checking
  • Texture is coarse and even with the grain often interlocked.
  • When Merbau is exposed the natural weather elements, the exposed surface of the furniture will turn to a silver grey colour. Due to the natural oils in the timber the strength and durability of the timber are not affected. 

Where does Merbau come from?

Merbau is currently found in many parts of the world. This includes far north Australia, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Fiji, Philippines, Thailand, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Samoa. The timber used for outdoor furniture is sourced from plantations, using controlled production techniques. These techniques enable the world’s forest resources to be maintained at a sustainable rate.

What are the other common uses for Merbau?

Other uses for Merbau include external decking, boat building, window and door frames, stair treads, marine jetties, salt water jetty stumps, musical instruments, tool handles, bridge building, sleepers, parquet flooring, counter and bench tops.

How do you need to care and maintain Merbau?

It is recommended that all Merbau furniture be “bled” or “leached” before use. This consists of placing the furniture on preferably a grassed area, and flushing away the excess oil with a thorough soaking of water. As a precaution to prevent secondary “bleeding” the initial process must be carried out in a thorough manner. It is difficult to predict how long this “bleeding” process will take, however it is suggested that the soaking duration be between 2 – 3 hours. An instruction sheet for “bleeding & oiling” is available here.

If Merbau is not oiled, it will weather to a distinctive silver grey colour. To maintain the natural colourings of the timber it is suggested that a periodic application of oil be used. This consists of using a lint free cloth and wiping either Hardwood Oil, or a Clear Oil over the exposed areas.

The time frame between oiling is difficult to predict, and depends highly on the degree of exposure to the natural weather conditions. It is recommended that every six months you tighten the fittings with an Allen key. This will prevent the frames from working loose. If you are wishing to maintain the natural colouring of the timber, it is also advised that the timber be cleaned on a yearly basis using either warm soapy water and a scrubbing brush, or a specialised wood clean product. You may find that a light sanding (with a fine grade sand paper, and sanding with the grain) will be required after the timber dries. The timber is then ready to be oiled as normal.

Christine Bernardo
Christine Bernardo


1 Response


August 07, 2019

Fantastic blog ..The information that you have shared about MERBAU TIMBER..Thank u so much for sharing the article with readers..Do keep sharing such nice posts with readers…!!

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