Balau Hardwood


Balau, also known by its botanical name Shorea spp., is a tropical hardwood species. It has a coarse texture with medium to large pores and a grain that can be interlocked. The colour of Balau can vary from a pale brown to a darker red-brown shade. In terms of durability, Balau is extremely resistant to decay and is highly hardwearing, making it a popular choice for exterior decking. It is also known for its strength and stability.

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Material Type:

Also Called:
Yellow Balua, Lauan

Durability Notes:
Balau is variable among species; but gerenally (Yellow Balau) is considered as durable in regard to decay resistance. Used for exterior decking Balau is also hardwearing.

Balau is hard to work, due to its high density. Some species may have a slight blunting effect on tools due to small levels of silica present in the wood. Glues, stains and finishes well.

Typical Uses:
General construction, flooring, as well as a number of other general external purposes.

Moisture Content:
12-18% KD

Considered critically endangered by The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (this was last assessed in 1998 and considerable changes in awareness and more stringent forestry controls may have had an impact and the results of the latest assessment are due soon) for more information and latest updates please visit and type in the botanical name of the species into the search box. It should also be noted that one unintentional shortcoming of the Red List is that it only considers the risk of extinction; broader issues dealing with habitat destruction or deforestation are not considered. Also, it does not necessarily take into account the maturity of the trees (i.e., centuries-old trees are cut down, and subsequently replanted with saplings) Therefore we hope that further assessments will consider this long term commitment to re-growth.

Wood Worker's Thoughts:
Hard, durable and heavy - often used marine environments. Can twist and warp during machining.

Commonly asked questions about Balau Wood

Is Balau a hardwood or a softwood? Balau is a hardwood. It is the same for; is Balau hardwood or softwood? - Balau is a hardwood.

Most groups/families of species share the same characteristics but this normally relates to their life as plants. Individual species do not always share the same characteristics as their relatives, in terms of the wood. Many factors influence how we use the wood and what we use it for, including where it grows, how it is forested, how it seasons/dries, etc. The answers to the following common questions, therefore relate to this particular species/wood and not the Balau family as a whole. Even more specific – our answers relate to the wood (as we know it) in its form as a useable resource.

What colour is Balau? Balau can be described as brown, dark brown, yellow/brown

Is Balau good for outdoor use? or is Balau good for exterior use? Balau is most suited for exterior/external use. Balau can be used as an exterior/external timber (without treatment).

Whether the wood is naturally durable or not we would still recommend that it is decorated and/or coated with a suitable product to provide protection and/or maintain its appearance. This even applies when using the wood internally as, even subtle, changes in temperature or humidity will affect the wood. This will depend on the application/purpose of the wood and the user’s desired appearance. We also recommend that a recoating, care and maintenance programme is adhered to, for the life of an exterior wood. Wood cannot rot if it is kept dry – coatings and decoration can provide this protection. All of that said there are many durable timbers that are often left to weather naturally and will last for many years untreated/coated – movement and visual changes will occur but this is sometimes the desired effect. All wood is hygroscopic (it 'wants' to be in tune with its environment) it will therefore take on water from moisture in the air (or when directly exposed to or submerged in water) and ‘release it’ when dry or exposed to heat. This, inevitably, results in movement and dimensional change. For more about moisture in wood please click here - Moisture in wood

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