A question I get often asked about Rubberwood is whether it is bendy and soft like rubber. Of course, this question usually comes from wisecracking people who think that since it is named Rubberwood, it must be like a rubber band. Contrariwise, Rubberwood is classified as hardwood and is pretty durable. Nevertheless, its wood produces sap used to make rubber. For this reason, it is named rubberwood.
Rubberwood is a byproduct of harvesting Pará rubber tree, a hardwood grown in South America, Africa, and Asia. Though this tree is grown for its latex, it is also good wood for furniture making. As you read this post, you will learn the pros and cons of using rubberwood for furniture making.
What is Rubberwood?
Rubberwood is a less expensive wood type characterized by its medium density and light color. It is a hardwood, of course, with the scientific name of Hevea Brasiliensis. This tree is cultivated in rubber plantations and gets advertised as environmentally friendly. Moreover, it gets referred to as Hevea, plantation hardwood, or Pará Rubber Tree.
In Malaysia, it gets marketed with the name Malaysian Oak. Its use for furniture making, however, has increased in the early 21st century. But is it suitable for furniture making?
Well, with the development and introduction of chemical treatments against insect and fungal attacks, the use of rubberwood for furniture making has dramatically increased.
So, at present, rubber plantation trees get harvested once they have already outgrown their latex-producing age. Rubberwood has a Janka Hardness rating of 995. It is not expensive, but it can provide you with solid furniture.
Advantages of Using Rubberwood
If you intend to use Rubberwood for your projects, it will help if you are cognizant of the following advantages of using Rubberwood for furniture making:
The use of Rubberwood is sustainable and will not hurt or harm the environment. It is plantation hardwood, meaning new rubberwood trees get planted when it gets cut. Besides, only those rubberwood trees that have already outgrown their latex production get cut.
You might misconstrue Rubberwood as similar to a rubber band that you can bend with ease. Rubberwood is far from that. Rubberwood is a hardwood and is durable. It exhibits 9500 psi with a 1.3 million psi stiffness. It also displays a 500-pound hardness.
If you’re looking for durable and affordable furniture, you should check out rubberwood furniture. However, it also exhibits a rubbery characteristic, making it more susceptible to warping during manufacturing. But you don’t need to worry about this because you will buy the furniture in its completed and finished state.
Easy to Maintain
Rubberwood pieces of furniture are easy to maintain. You won’t need elaborate rituals to maintain and clean them. You only need to use water and soap solution and wash it once a year. Afterward, you can dry it with a clean cloth. It will be best to refrain from dousing it in water for an extended period, for water can damage its finish.
You can also enhance its dull patina by applying furniture wax on its surface. Nevertheless, don’t forget to strip the wood surface occasionally of wax because wax tends to become yellowish over time.
Rubberwood exhibits a certain level of scratch resistance. Although a bit softer than oak wood, it is still as hard as walnut and teak. It features a medium texture and moderate hardness. But it will not scratch or get damaged with ease.
You Can Work It with Ease
You will find the Rubberwood easy to work with manually or with your power tools. It also quickly receives stains and finishes, resulting in an excellent finish. You can use it for making indoor furniture. Besides, given its moderate hardness, it will not quickly dull your tools.
Great Grain Structure and Texture
Rubberwood exhibits a creamy color after sawing. Nevertheless, it turns darker once dried. Thus, it is easy to stain and provides an excellent appearance similar to oakwood. The heartwood and sapwood of rubberwood show almost the same grains with a coarse appearance.
However, it is best to use acrylic primer on this lumber and follow it through with an undercoat and glossy coats.
Naturally Resists Burn and Heat
Rubberwood is naturally resistant to heat and burn. However, discoloration occurs when it is exposed to fire or burns because it seeks to protect itself from heat and fire.
It will exhibit less damage from burns and fire than other wood types. Besides, this wood doesn’t contain toxic substances or odor if it gets burned.
Furniture made of Rubberwood isn’t expensive. You will not break the bank when buying rubberwood furniture. It looks like oak wood but is less resistant to mold and disease. So, you might mistake rubberwood furniture for oak furniture.
Besides, you can buy a rubberwood dining set made of five pieces for $450 or less. Other hardwood, of course, will cost several times more than this wood.
Rubberwood gets often utilized in many structures requiring a high level of shock absorption. Thus, you will find rubberwood in gymnasiums because it can absorb shock and reduce impact. It can cushion a fall and allow for a more comfortable fall.
Rubberwood gets also utilized for furniture intended for the disabled and physically vulnerable. So, if you’re looking for a material for such furniture, you should not think twice about using Rubberwood.
Disadvantages of Using Rubberwood for Furniture Making
The use of Rubberwood obviously comes with many advantages. Yet, it doesn’t mean that its use is not without disadvantages. If you intend to use Rubberwood for furniture making, it will help if you know the following downsides of its use in furniture:
It Gets Damaged Easily Compared to Other Hardwood
Rubberwood is relatively durable and strong, considering its Janka Hardness rating. Yet, furniture products made of Rubberwood can also be susceptible to damage. Thus, it will be best not to leave rubberwood furniture in an excessively dry or hot place.
You cannot, for example, leave the furniture near something hot like a space heater. Besides, you can’t leave Rubberwood furniture under direct exposure to UV light, for its surface will manifest discoloration.
Furthermore, it would help if you do not leave a hot object on the furniture surface, for it will damage the surface and produce white rings. It is also susceptible to insect attacks and pest attacks. Sans proper maintenance, it will perish and deteriorate quickly.
Rubberwood can also be vulnerable to decay and rot. So, you should avoid leaving the furniture in damp and moist conditions because this can alter and damage the cellular structure of Rubberwood.
Twisting and Warping
As mentioned above, Rubberwood is susceptible to warping during the manufacturing process. This warping will cause distortion before the wood thoroughly dries. However, it can be pretty sturdy and durable once dried.
Susceptible to Staining
Like other wood, Rubberwood can be susceptible to the effects of chemicals during the seasoning process. Besides, you can damage the Rubberwood while washing it using regular detergents. The damage might be permanent. So, you better take extra care when maintaining the Rubberwood furniture.
It will be best to wash it with soap and warm water to avoid damaging it. You can also use grease or polish oil to wipe the surface to prevent damage to the surface.
Moitsture Damge Easily
Rubberwood is not recommended for use outdoors because it is susceptible to moisture damage. It will deteriorate if exposed to moisture. So, it will be best to keep Rubberwood furniture indoors in a highly moderated environment to save it from damage due to moisture.
Inconsistency in Texture
Unlike other hardwood, Rubberwood might exhibit inconsistency or variation in texture, which can be a disadvantage. It also doesn’t display a unique grain structure, so it doesn’t dry evenly and well. Besides, it may not absorb stains evenly.
Might Cause Allergy
You might be allergic to latex, and if you are, your allergy might get aggravated by Rubberwood furniture. If you have no allergic reaction to latex, you’ll be okay with using Rubberwood furniture.
But if you have an allergy to latex, using Rubberwood furniture might be problematic even if the furniture got sealed.
Low Resistance to Humidity
Rubberwood is often kiln-seasoned before it gets transformed into furniture. Yet, this doesn’t mean that it is no longer porous. Kilning only shrinks its pores, but still, it will absorb water.
So, if the furniture gets doused in water, it gets slick, making furniture risky to use. Besides, it may swell if continuously exposed to water, making furniture unusable.
Frequently Asked Questions
Understanding Rubberwood deeper can help you decide if furniture made of Rubberwood is best for you. Besides, knowing the pros and cons of its use, you can quickly decide if Rubberwood furniture is what you need. However, it will also help if you are familiar with the following FAQs about Rubberwood:
Is Rubberwood a Hardwood?
Rubberwood, as mentioned above, is hardwood. It is a fast-growing tree with a Janka Hardness rating of 980 Newtons, meaning it will require 980 Newtons of force to dent this wood using a steel ball bearing. So, Rubberwood is harder than many coniferous species.
Which is Better, Rubber Wood or Solid Wood?
You will ask this if you think that Rubberwood is made of rubber. But after reading this post, you will indeed refrain from asking this question because you will know that Rubberwood is a hardwood and is pretty much solid and durable.
Is Rubberwood Ideal for Making Furniture?
The use of Rubberwood has many pros and cons. Although many other wood types are best for furniture making, Rubberwood is still a good wood for furniture making. It is slightly elastic, meaning it is not comparable to other hardwood.
Yet, its use in furniture making has dramatically increased due to the introduction of wood chemicals for treating wood.
Is Rubberwood a Solid wood?
Yes, Rubberwood is real wood, unlike the rubber band that bends and elongates when extended or pulled on both sides. It comes from the Pará rubber tree with the scientific name Hevea Brasiliensis. So, Rubberwood is undoubtedly a real wood.
You might have heard of Rubberwood as a tree used to produce latex. But you might have seldom heard of it as a material for making furniture. Yet, it gets utilized for building furniture and is becoming popular. Besides, it is very much available, meaning its use is sustainable.
If ever you decide to buy furniture made of Rubberwood, it will be best to consider the abovementioned pros and cons of using Rubberwood for furniture. In this way, you can decide whether Rubberwood furniture is best for your furniture needs.