You’ll notice a lot of solid wood furniture these days is made from ‘Rubberwood’ which, intuitively, suggests it might be a bit soft and bendy like rubber, perhaps?
Actually, quite the contrary, Rubberwood is very durable and is actually classed as a hardwood. It’s a sap producing wood species, the sap being latex which is used to produce rubber – hence the name.
Rubberwood is also a sustainable timber since it’s mostly grown for the latex it produces. After several years the yields become uneconomic and so trees are felled and replanted on a regular basis. It’s only then that the timber is used for the production of furniture.
Pound for pound you’ll find Rubberwood furniture just as good value as pine, and it should last just as long?
Typical Uses for Rubberwood in Furniture
You’ll often find Rubberwood is used as an economical ‘real wood’ alternative to MDF and fibreboard, particularly where these kind of materials are not suitable – wooden shoe racks and the frames of kid’s bunk beds are just two examples.
It’s also common to find Rubberwood being used in conjunction with better-known hardwoods, such as oak, for less conspicuous components, like drawer bases and internal supports, in order to help keep the cost down.
Painting and Staining Rubberwood
Rubberwood is naturally light coloured (almost white) and can be painted or stained just like any other wood.
However, because of its tightly-grained nature, you may find that staining the wood doesn’t produce great results. Dark colours especially will appear flat and blotchy.
For this reason, it’s best if you use traditional paint system or, if you prefer, an opaque coloured wood stain rather than a traditional wood shade.
To paint rubberwood you’ll need to use an acrylic (quick-drying) wood primer followed by at least one coat of undercoat, then one or two coats of gloss or eggshell finish.
Disadvantages of Rubberwood
Aside from its rather bland appearance, in natural form, it’s hard to think of any downsides regarding this versatile timber species. For external use, however, Rubberwood isn’t suitable as a furniture material due to its tendency to be very moisture absorbent.
It’s very unlikely, therefore, that you’ll find Rubberwood being used to construct garden furniture.
Otherwise, there are no disadvantages at all.
- Scientific Name: Hevea brasiliensis
- Origin: Native of Brazil but grown extensively in tropical regions of Asia
- Typical Tree Size: 75-100 ft tall x 1-3 ft trunk diameter
- More info: http://www.wood-database.com/rubberwood