Paulownia Hardwood


Paulownia, also known by its botanical name Paulownia fortunei, P. tomentosa and related species (Scrophulariaceae), is an incredibly fast-growing soft hardwood. It is light honey to blond in colour with a gradual transition from heartwood to the lighter sapwood. The wood is soft and straight-grained, has distinct growth rings, a very fine glossy sheen, and is odourless. Plantation-grown wood is commonly free of knots. Paulownia is prized for its texture, and by musical instrument makers for its tone. It is a versatile timber and can be used for furniture, joinery, carving and much more. Paulownia is increasingly becoming a popular plantation-grown timber, available from sustainable and legal sources.

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Material Type:

Also Called:
Kiri, Dragon Tree, Chinese Empress Tree, Princess Tree, Foxglove Tree

Durability Notes:
Paulownia wood is moderately durable

The drying and seasoning of Paulownia is dependant on a number of factors; the speed in which it is processed after felling and logging, the method of drying and the specific kilns or location (if air dried). Generally the care taken by those processing the wood will have an impact on its drying and seasoning. As an overview; Paulownia - There is very little impact on the grade and quality of the wood, but care has to be taken at avoid sap stain and surface bruising. There is only small movement in service. Please note that all wood is liable to move when in service plus there can be dimensional change. The extent of this will depend on; the stability of the species itself, the conditions it is exposed to, the coating, decoration and protection. You will find more information about the suitability of this wood, for any proposed application, by using our interactive system and the filters shown.

Paulownia wood has a very high strength to weight ratio but is comparatively soft for a hardwood. Due to its softness, low silica content and low level of resin, it works easily with both machine and hand tools. Paulownia nails and screws well and rarely splits. However, it does not hold nails very well so gluing is advised (as the wood glues very well with a fast cure time). Paulownia sands to a fine finish and accepts oils, stains and paint well. Sanding sealer is advised as a base for clear finishes. Paulownia can bruise quite easily, so care has to be taken during processing. It has high sound and heat insulation properties and is much more fire-resistant than most timbers.

Typical Uses:
Furniture, Carpentry, Cabinetry, Musical Instruments, Boatbuilding, Veneers, Carving, Bamboo-like Poles.

Moisture Content:
Guide - 10-18% for KD (+/- 2%)

Commonly asked questions about Paulownia Wood

Is Paulownia a hardwood or a softwood? Paulownia is a hardwood. It is the same for; is Paulownia hardwood or softwood? - Paulownia 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 Paulownia 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 Paulownia? Paulownia can be described as brown, light brown, yellow/brown

Is Paulownia good for outdoor use? or is Paulownia good for exterior use? Paulownia is most suited for internal/interior use. Paulownia should not 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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