Rubberwood is famous for its use in furniture pieces. This wood is easy to work with whether you choose to use power or hand tools. One thing about this wood type is that it is not know to a large number of homeowners and ever DIY woodworkers. So, if you happen to be new to this amazing woodworking material, you are lucky to be reading this post as I would like to answer the question, what is a rubberwood in details.
Rubberwood is medium density tropical hardwood extracted from the ” Pará rubber tree” that grows on rubber plantations.
This wood type is considered an “environmentally friendly” wood, as it offers continued use even after the rubber production role. The wood has a light color making it perfect for different furniture.
Even though the wood makes rubber, it isn’t usually rubbery. Instead, it is a solid product and holds up well in furniture projects.
Moreover, Rubberwood is suitable for building various structures, thanks to its light color, often light blonde to medium tan.
This lumber type is coarse, featuring a straight grain and an open texture. It is similar to Maple’s qualities but with a more porous form. Read this article for more insight into the wood, its pros and cons, and various painting and staining tips.
Is Rubberwood Better than Wood?
It depends on your project requirements, but generally, the wood is ideal for many timber and woodworking projects. Moreover, contrary to most Western ideas, the material is not as flexible as many perceive. It is a pretty durable hardwood belonging to the Maple species.
Starting mid the 1980s, Rubberwood became an alternative resource for the timber industry and other wood-based products. It is now a popular raw material in the field.
Rubberwood is authentic hardwood, being moderately hard and featuring a medium texture. It also has the same weight and density as Ash or Maple. You can also refer to the lumber as Malaysian Oak or Parawood despite appearance differences from teak or oak.
Rubberwood has a stiffness of 1.3 million psi, a strength of about 9,500 psi, and a hardness of 500 pounds. In addition, the lumber is very stable after processing, featuring minimum cracking and shrinkage possibilities.
Since this wood type often comes across as a byproduct, it is more affordable than most lumber. However, there is a notion that Rubberwood is not as durable; thus, most woodworkers opt for other timber like cherry, maple, or oak.
The wood takes in stains and finishes pretty well. Even better, it has an awesome blond to medium tan color. Therefore, you can use a transparent formula to highlight this beauty or creatively use various colors to suit your tastes and setting.
Finally, Rubberwood comes from latex-producing trees, and you cannot use it straight from the tree. The lumber goes through proper seasoning and treatment, making it suitable for furniture work.
Is Rubberwood as Strong as Oak?
Rubberwood has a Janka hardness score of about 980 lbs, making it harder than various coniferous wood species. However, although it does not scratch easily and even has the same hardness as teak and walnut, it is softer than oak.
For centuries, woodworkers have opted for oak wood, and Rubberwood is relatively new to the timber market. Besides, while the former is a heavy hardwood with a porous, close grain and visible rings, the latter has a straight and symmetrical grain. Therefore, you’ll find the Rubberwood’s grain tighter.
Oak comes in handy for veneers, kitchen cabinets, furniture, interior finishing, and flooring. Moreover, it receives stains well, is bendable with steam, and is incredibly durable. In addition, the high tannin concentration makes the wood resistant to fungal attacks and insect damage.
Similarly, Rubberwood is a reliable component in multiple woodworking applications, including flooring and general construction. It stains well and is tough and durable, resistant to bacteria, mold, and fungi.
The lumber has minimal shrinkage. Therefore, it is a perfect alternative for furniture builders who prefer wood with little movement.
Can You Stain Rubberwood?
Yes, you can stain Rubberwood as it receives various stain products well. Moreover, staining helps to either highlight the lumber’s natural beauty or conceal the wood to match the surroundings.
Nonetheless, it is prudent to avoid using this wood for outdoor applications. The surface is vulnerable to humidity and susceptible to decay. And staining may not offer the needed protection.
How to Stain Rubberwood?
Since the wood accepts stains readily and similarly to other hardwood, you’ll need to apply more than one coat for superior protection. In addition, the staining method is the same as working with other woods like oak and maple. Therefore, there is nothing new.
The supplies required for the project include wood conditioner, 120-or 150-grit sandpaper, wood stain, mild soap, stain sealer or finish, orbital sander, clean cloths, paintbrushes, tack cloth, and rags.
Once you have the above, follow the procedure below for a satisfactory outcome.
- Select a Suitable Stain. Rubberwood has a uniform look for its grain and mainly features a natural blond hue. Therefore, you can use different stains on the wood to accentuate or customize its look.
We have multiple wood stain types, and you can choose any, depending on your final desired look. However, although different stains will work on Rubberwood, working with an oil-based formula is excellent.
- Clean the Rubberwood Piece. Use a clean, dry rag to remove dust from the wood you intend to stain. Also, gently wipe the surface with mild soap and warm water for stubborn blemishes.
- Prepare the Wood for Staining. Sanding the surface before staining to strip any previous finish is advisable. So, get 120-grit or 150-grit sandpaper for the best result. In addition, you can use a more abrasive stripper or sandpaper to remove a tough finish.
The next step is to remove any sanding residue with a tack cloth. Choose the most suitable method for your project. Also, you can use an orbital to work faster and cover more area or sand by hand for smaller surfaces.
- Apply Wood Conditioner. Apply this formula to the wood after sanding and cleaning before applying the stain. Use a paintbrush for the coat, and then allow the surface to dry completely.
- Stain the Rubberwood. Before applying the stain, it is prudent to test it on a small, inconspicuous surface area. This way, you verify whether the formula will accomplish your objective.
Ensure that the wood conditional dries to the touch before staining the lumber, and consider the manufacturer’s application instructions. Then, wipe away the excess stain after working and let it dry. Also, remember that the more the coats, the darker the final hue.
- Apply Stain Sealer/Finish. This part is technically optional, but it is an excellent way to guarantee durability. Apply this formula after the wood stain dries and give it enough time to dry before using the rubberwood object.
Testing Stain On Rubberwood:
Can You Paint Rubberwood?
It is possible to paint Rubberwood, despite its almost white, natural color. However, applying a quick-drying acrylic wood primer is best for enhanced adhesion. Then, use an undercoat of one or two gloss or eggshell coats.
Rubberwood is not an excellent adhesion material and fails to stick to paint without the proper properties. Therefore, adhere to expert recommendations when preparing and painting the wood.
Generally, acrylic paint is the best for Rubberwood, limiting its use to only indoor applications. The formula also delivers a similar outcome to latex formulas for interior application.
How to Paint Rubberwood
The first step involves getting everything you need. The project supplies include a roller frame, latex primer, nap roller cover, tack cloths, masking paper, professional painter’s tape, 3-inch polyester paintbrush, acrylic enamel, and acrylic latex primer, latex primer, and oil-based primer.
Then, check out the steps below.
- Wipe the surface with sticky tack cloths to remove dirt and enhance paint adhesion. In addition, use painter’s tape to cover the portions you do not want to paint. This way, you will not have difficulty cleaning up after painting.
- Choose the most suitable primer for the project and use a roller to coat the Rubberwood. It is advisable to get the acrylic latex primer for exterior Rubberwood and utilize a latex formula on interior surfaces.
- Apply the primer to a three-foot-by-three-foot area at a time. Use the polyester paintbrush to smooth the wet primed surface. Also, brush vertically and apply very gentle pressure to avoid ruining the finish.
- Give the surface two hours to dry as you wash the roller and polyester brush with tap water. Then, prepare the paint and apply it to the Rubberwood just as you primed it. Consider using acrylic enamel on surfaces subject to heavy use and give it a two-hour drying period.
Get a formula suitable for acrylic and latex topcoats. Use the brush for surface areas inaccessible to the roller to guarantee maximum coverage. In addition, please consider working with an oil-based primer for stained Rubberwood.
Lastly, please avoid painting unprimed Rubberwood as it will reject the new finish. Also, do not go for latex paint on the lumber or use nylon paintbrushes. This way, you avoid paintbrushes and a failed product.
Pros and Cons of Rubberwood
Interestingly, rubber is everywhere, and it creates an ample rubberwood supply once it reaches full maturity. Moreover, this lumber is readily available, making it more affordable than other wood types. But really, what are the pros and cons of Rubberwood?
- The Wood Does Not Scratch Easily
Rubberwood is a hardwood belonging to the maple family and has a Janka hardness rating of 980. Therefore, it is moderately strong and does not scratch easily. In addition, its hardness is comparable to walnut, maple, and teak, making it a cheap and scratch-resistant alternative for furniture.
If you were to compare the prices of the same wood pieces with similar density levels, one from Rubberwood and another from other wood, you would have to spend at least three times more.
- It is More Affordable
Rubberwood is among the most affordable woods for woodworking applications. Moreover, it is a common material that you can find in almost anything usable. In addition, after 30 years, growers fell the tree to make room for others, making it an excellent source of low-cost furniture.
Unfortunately, this low cot attribute also points out lacking quality. Rubberwood does not cost much because it is a re-sued product that we’re already going to throw away.
Nonetheless, it is budget and eco-friendly.
- The Wood Is Durable
Rubberwood is not flexible, contrary to what most woodworkers believe. This misconception comes about because the lumber produces latex, but it is inaccurate. The truth is that the wood is sturdy and suitable for any furniture work.
In addition, Rubberwood has a dense grain character, making it a stable and reliable construction material. You can also compare the wood’s hardness and strength with walnut and teak.
Another factor that makes this lumber more durable is where it grows. Rubber trees thrive in humid tropical surroundings and are naturally resistant to bacteria and fungi. Also, unlike other lumber species that need extra care, Rubberwood does well in various environmental conditions.
- It Is Fire-Resistant
One outstanding attribute about Rubberwood is that it is resistant to burns. You could accidentally drop a lit cigarette, and the surface will not burn. Moreover, the lumber remains intact even after contact with heat sources.
Rubberwood is also non-toxic and does not release harmful fumes when exposed to fire. Therefore, it is safe for interior applications and does not break down quickly, unlike other wood types.
- Rubberwood Does Not Need Much Maintenance
The wood is durable and not as expensive as other lumber types we use for woodwork. In addition, it does not need special care to remain fit for use, unlike other woods that need constant cleaning and treatment to stay presentable and fresh.
The only care for the wood is a simple water and soap solution once a year. Wash the surface thoroughly, and then dry it with a clean rag. It is okay to use some wax to keep the lumber shiny but consider removing it occasionally to limit household debris.
Despite the above benefits of using Rubberwood for woodworking applications, it is still far from being the perfect wood choice. We have considerable drawbacks to factor in before opting for it, one of them being the cost of importing it from other regions.
The other disadvantages you will have to deal with include:
- The Lumber Lacks Personality
Woodworkers do not like using Rubberwood because it lacks personality, meaning that you may not want to use it for high-end furniture. Usually, you may want to showcase the wood’s patterns and grain, something Rubberwood does not guarantee.
Another factor is that people perceive the wood as of low quality. In addition, aside from its name, it is rare to see an exquisite furniture piece from Rubberwood.
- It Is Susceptible to Damage
Rubberwood is still far from being the best alternative for furniture pieces despite its moderate hardness. It is highly vulnerable to impact damages and discoloration with direct sunlight or hot climates exposure.
The wood is also prone to insect infestations and fungi, and one has to coat it with antifungal insecticide chemicals to protect it. Therefore, it is not the best option for outdoor applications.
Over time, rubberwood furniture suffers from dents, and you need sufficient experience to know how to treat it with steam and heat. Also, although the surface is easy to clean, maintaining its condition needs more time and attention.
- Rubberwood Is Heavily Treated
It is impractical to use raw Rubberwood and expect to enjoy all the benefits of using it. Moreover, the lumber is not as strong as expected if used for furniture pieces without proper seasoning and treatment.
Rubberwood still goes through heavy chemical treatments, despite being environmentally friendly. So, it is advisable to look for another hardwood if you want wood with less seasoning processes and fewer chemicals.
- It is Fragile to Chemical Cleaners
This wood is naturally stain-resistant, but it is prudent to clean stains off after some time. Also, please note that it does not work well with multiple chemical cleaners, making the process a bit challenging.
Rubberwood is very susceptible to chemicals after seasoning. Moreover, using regular cleaning formulas alone is enough to cause permanent harm to the surface. Therefore, the only option you have is soap and water.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How Do I Maintain Rubberwood Furniture?
Rubberwood is versatile and perfect for carving quality furniture pieces. But it is prudent to know how to maintain the lumber to keep it in an ideal condition for a longer duration.
The first maintenance strategy is cleaning the surface and even having a daily wood dusting routine to remove dust particles. Also, make a soap and water mixture and clean the lumber at least once a year.
Dry the surface and clean it with a dry rag, and then apply a thin wax coat to give the surface a quick shine. In addition, consider using a wax stripping soap when cleaning a waxed surface.
The second technique involves fixing dents on the surfaces. Since Rubberwood is moderately hard, surface dents are pretty noticeable. So, assess the lumber and decide the most suitable remedy.
Dab more filling for deep dents. Then, fill up small gaps by placing a towel on the area and placing a hot iron on top for a minute. Rubberwood swells up under heat and lightens up the dent within no time.
Please note that keeping rubberwood furniture near a direct heat source or sunlight for a long time can damage it. Also, ensure that you wipe spilled water or alcohol instantly to avoid ruining the wood.
- Is Rubberwood Good Quality?
Rubberwood is among the most acceptable furniture-making lumber options. In addition, it is flexible and robust, making it a suitable choice for making trays, carvings, commercial cabinetry, and more.
Since this tree is responsible for harvesting rubber, it is becoming a commercial plantation in Africa and Asia. Therefore, it is widely available and affordable for most woodworking applications.
Rubberwood is more rigid than soft maple, straw-colored, and has brown streaks. In addition, there is no significant color difference between sapwood and heartwood. Thus, you can expect a coarse texture and straight grain.
The lumber undergoes chemical treatment to deliver a stable outlook, but it still does not work well for exterior environments. So, it is prudent to have Rubberwood for interior surfaces despite its rough texture.
Rubberwood holds nails and screws in place and delivers solid support to furniture. Also, since the tree secretes latex, it is sometimes hard to use blades and saws. Hence, you can rely on its sturdy attributes.
This wood is famous for carvings as it brings out all the exemplary aspects of a piece and holds neat designs. However, although you can paint the surface, it is best to fill and prime the surface for a successful result.
Rubberwood can mimic other wood types because of its large pores. It is also easy to carve and make furniture with machines and hands. But it is not advisable to keep the lumber near water sources as it can absorb moisture, leading to shrinkage.
Finally, the lumber is kiln-friendly, meaning that you can easily manage it in the kiln drying process. In addition, it can handle high temperatures of up to 100 degrees Celsius.
Is Rubberwood Better Than Pine?
Pinewood and Rubberwood vary significantly, as they have more differences than similarities. The first variance is that pin wood falls under the softwood category, whereas Rubberwood is under hardwoods.
Pinewood is more versatile than its counterpart as it is suitable for interior and exterior furniture. On the other hand, Rubberwood is only ideal for interior applications.
In addition, you will enjoy using pinewood for cabinets, wall panels, and floors, while Rubberwood will give better results for kitchen accessories, toys, and furniture.
Nonetheless, pinewood is way cheaper than Rubberwood, despite the latter being favored for its affordability. However, while pinewood is perfect for high-value carpentry projects only, Rubberwood is ideal for various timber and woodworking applications.
You have several choices when looking for solid wood furniture, and Rubberwood is one of them. This wood is a growing option among affordable woodworking materials. But it is advisable to check out the wood’s attributes before deciding if it is good for you. Fortunately, most of the answers are in the above article:
What Is a Rubberwood?
This lumber is heavy and features a straight and symmetrical grain. In addition, the wood grain is tighter, making it an ideal option for your next woodworking application.
I hope you have gained valuable knowledge regarding rubberwood and maintenance especially if you are going to use it on different wooden structure. Also, if you happen to be with a question, suggestion or opinion regarding rubberwood kindly share it with in the comment section below.