It’s a common misunderstanding that rubberwood is soft or rubbery. The truth is, rubberwood is neither soft nor rubbery since it is a type of wood.
It is called rubberwood because the wood comes from rubber trees, which produce latex. Rubber latex is then processed into all kinds of soft rubber products and hard products such as furniture. Rubber is indeed soft, but rubberwood is hard. In this article, I’ll go into more detail about rubberwood and rubberwood furniture.
What is rubberwood? Rubberwood is a member of the maple tree family. Maple is a hardwood used in making furniture and all kinds of wood products.
Is rubberwood furniture good? Rubberwood is a durable wood that is commonly used to make furniture because of its impressive qualities. It is flexible, strong, and resistant to mold, bacteria, and fungi. Rubberwood has a coarse and dense grain, making it more common in industrial furniture than very top-quality furniture. However, rubberwood is still used to make beautiful furniture, depending on how it is fastened and constructed.
Read on to learn more details about rubberwood. The information below will expand your knowledge about rubberwood and its application in furniture making.
Also, take a look at an excellent rubberwood dining set, the Furgle Dining Set. It’s a beautiful dining set complete with a Malaysian rubberwood table and four chairs.
What Is Rubberwood? Is Rubberwood Furniture Good?
Rubberwood belongs to the maple tree family. This type of wood isn’t rubbery but moderately hard, with a density similar to that of ash. Other names of rubberwood are Hevea wood, parawood, Malaysian oak, and Asian hardwood.
This wood comes from rubber trees, where natural latex comes from. Latex is a substance that is made into all kinds of rubber products. When rubber trees are already more than 30 years old, they can no longer produce latex.
After three decades, they are harvested and transformed into lumber and made into furniture. New rubber trees are planted in their place to continue the farm’s latex production. Furniture made from rubberwood is more affordable than those made of oak, mahogany, and other expensive types of wood.
However, furniture made of rubberwood can also stand on its own merits. The Furgle Dining Set is a prime example of this. It’s a dining set complete with a rectangular table and four chairs.
This Furgle dining set is made of high-quality rubberwood from Malaysia. It has a classic style with strong and durable wood. The dining set is hand-carved, accentuating the subtle design of Malaysian oak. It can provide a warm and elegant dining environment at a very affordable price.
Rubber trees are native to Brazil, and there are now numerous rubber tree plantations in the whole of Southeast Asia. These trees mature after nine years when the extraction of their latex starts. Latex extraction continues up to 25-30 years, upon which their latex production declines. They are then harvested and turned into lumber and furniture.
The countries that harvest rubberwood trees don’t export the logs. They turn them into lumber and furniture and then ship them to other countries. Aside from being a furniture raw material, rubberwood is also used in the production of veneer, medium-density fiberboard, and particleboard.
How Can You Recognize Rubberwood?
The natural color of rubberwood is light blonde to medium tan. But once it has been kiln-dried, its color turns to medium brown streaks or even darker. Some may even have pinkish tints.
Rubberwood has vertical vessels that give its grain a coarse appearance. These wood grains give it a touch of character. Since it’s light-colored, rubberwood is usually stained or colored when used to make furniture.
The natural color of rubberwood is similar to pine or poplar. Its grains are often straight, and its texture is usually open. While it is similar to maple in several ways, its structure is more porous. Hence, it is a bit softer than its mother tree, maple.
Little Known Facts About Rubberwood
Here are some facts that most people don’t know about rubberwood.
1. Natural Habitat
Rubber trees grow in many countries, such as South America, Africa, and Asia. Mature rubber trees can reach as high as 40 meters or 120+ feet. These trees can live for as long as 100 years.
2. Rubberwood Is Long-lasting
Rubberwood is strong and durable since it’s a member of the maple hardwood family. If made into furniture, it will resist mold, bacteria, and fungus. Aside from being strong, rubberwood is also flexible.
3. It Is Eco-friendly
Rubberwood is only used to build furniture when the rubber tree has already completed its latex-producing years. This phase comes around 25 to 30 years of its mature life. That makes rubberwood one of the most eco-friendly raw materials in the world.
4. It Is Versatile
There are many applications or uses of Hevea wood. Aside from being used as a raw material for making furniture, it can also be used for making veneer, medium-density fiberboard, particleboard, and industrial furniture.
5. Rubberwood Furniture Is Mainly for Indoor Use
Furniture made of rubberwood should be mainly used indoors. The inherent protective chemicals of rubberwood cannot prevent moisture from seeping into the wood grains. Using rubberwood furniture outdoors will expose it to fungal and bacterial attacks as well as molds. Outside moisture can seep into the wood and would warp and deform the furniture.
6. Care and Maintenance
A basic solution of soap and water should be used to clean the surfaces of rubberwood furniture. Just be sure not to use a lot of water because moisture will seep into the coarse grains of the wood. Dry the surface with a clean cloth as well.
The application of furniture wax will also make the wood shine. As wax can attract dust and dirt, be sure to wipe the furniture regularly to maintain its shine.
7. Rubberwood Has a Critical Part to Play in This World
Our modern world owes much to rubberwood. Latex, its white sap, is used as a raw material in producing nearly all of the modern products and conveniences that we use today. From rubber bands to car and airplane tires, rubber is one of the most ubiquitous materials in our modern world.
See the below video for more information on rubber wood, including how it’s used for furniture:
Is Rubberwood Good for Furniture Making?
Admittedly, rubberwood is not a well-known raw material for building furniture. However, it is now becoming a major resource for building furniture because of its many advantages. In the wood industry, Hevea wood becomes timber and wood panels and then later used to make all types of furniture.
An example is the DLNI Dining Set of 2 PU Leisure Furniture. These classic upholstered dining room chairs are built to last a long time. You can use it in your kitchen or bar area.
This DLNI dining chair set features thick foam padding and a sturdy dark brown rubberwood. A chrome-stud nailhead trim also accentuates its well-padded seats in a durable frame. It’s a perfect example of rubberwood created as an elegantly beautiful piece of furniture.
Rubberwood is indeed a great source of raw material in building furniture as well as other types of products. Here is a list of wood products that can be made out of rubberwood.
Rubberwood is used to make veneers or sheet covers made of thin slices of wood. They are used as finishing materials to cover rough woodworks.
2. Medium-density Fiberboard
The production of MDFs and particleboards also involves the use of rubberwood. These fiberboards are primarily used in the making of low-cost wooden cabinets, wooden floors, moldings, wood paneling on walls, window frames, and door frames.
3. Cement Boards
Rubberwood is one of the components used in making cement-bonded particleboards. The construction industry uses these boards because of their good insulation and excellent resistance to fire, fungi, and weather.
Rubberwood is also popular in building different kinds of furniture in the following applications:
- Printing and engraving on wood
- Furniture production for residences, buildings, offices, display showrooms, and sales shops
- Fine-art wooden handicraft products
- Construction of shelves
- Weather-resistant furniture (outdoor pieces of furniture that are resistant to termites, molds, and water)
- Production of joinery and molding, such as strip and parquet flooring and staircases
Advantages of Using Rubberwood
There are many advantages to using rubberwood (Hevea wood) for building furniture. Here are some of the advantages that make rubberwood an ideal raw material for making furniture:
1. Easy to Work With
Building furniture out of rubberwood is easier compared to other hardwood materials. It doesn’t really matter if you do it manually or with power tools. The Malaysian oak has good working qualities both for machining and general woodworking.
It is easy to cut, bore, glue, nail, and turn. The wood can take stains and finishes very well, too. It is also easy to mold, even when using speeds of more than 20 meters per minute. Additionally, rubberwood receives paint quite well.
2. Low Cost
Rubberwood is one of the most cost-effective options in the market. Furniture made of Hevea wood tends to be more affordable compared to other furniture made of traditional wood materials.
The total cost of manufacturing one cubic meter of rubberwood is around 30 percent less than meranti dark red or red lauan wood. It is a good “real wood” alternative to fiberboards and MDFs, especially if these two types of wood are not applicable.
Rubber trees are planted on farms. That makes them a sustainable resource. Rubberwood is a by-product of rubber. When rubber trees have already exhausted their ability to secrete latex, they are cut down to become timber or lumber. After the harvest, new seedlings are planted to take their place in the production line.
4. Nontoxic and Fire Resistant
Hevea wood is naturally resistant to fire. The wood will suffer less damage even if it catches fire. There will also be fewer fumes since it is a non-toxic wood.
5. Wood Grains Are Simple and Refined
Wood grains in rubberwood have a coarse appearance. They are simple but refined. Cream is its natural color, but when dried, its color becomes darker. It can also look like walnut, oak, or cherry by staining the surface. This wood also receives paint quite easily.
6. Strong and Durable
Lastly, the strength and durability of rubberwood are comparable to other hardwoods, such as oak and maple. This wood has a Janka score of 980 pounds. As such, it gives a stable profile for all wood applications, provided it is seasoned correctly.
It also has minimal shrinkage, making it a good raw material in furniture making. It is softer than teak but harder than cherry. If made into a piece of furniture, it will last for around 15 to 25 years.
An example is the TaoHFE Nesting Coffee Tables Set of 2, which can last for a long time. It is equipped with durable, white rubberwood legs.
Rubberwood Furniture Disadvantages? Are There Any?
Even with all of the positive things you can say about rubberwood, there are still some downsides to it. What are the rubber wood disadvantages? One of the rubberwood’s disadvantages is that it’s limited to indoor use. So, if you are looking for garden furniture, avoid rubberwood and look elsewhere.
Another rubberwood disadvantage is its tendency to twist and warp while it undergoes the drying process. It can also have a distorted appearance when the wood is completely dry.
Conclusion – What Is Rubber Wood? Is Rubber Wood Furniture Good?
So, to recap, what is rubber wood? Is rubber wood furniture good? Rubberwood is a member of the maple tree family. As you know, maple is a type of hardwood used in making furniture and all kinds of wood products. That means rubberwood is also a durable wood that can be used for furniture making.
This wood is flexible, strong, and is resistant to molds, bacteria, and fungi. Although its coarse and dense grains make it unsuitable for fine furniture, it’s useful in making affordable pieces of furniture, including industrial-style furniture.