Why choose Merbau timber for your decking material?

Why choose Merbau timber for your decking material?


Merbau hardwood timber continues to rise in popularity, especially for decking and pergola construction. It is a stylish timber, that is also durable, affordable and low maintenance.

In this blog we explain where merbau timber comes from, how to care for it, and discuss the pros and cons of this beautiful timber.

Merbau hardwood decking. Seat box with lids for storing kids toys. Low voltage LED lighting for ambience.

What is Merbau timber?

Merbau timber comes from the Kwila tree or Pacific Kwila tree. It thrives and is grown predominately in tropical regions. Each tree can grow to a height of 40 metres and the trunk can reach a diameter of 60cm.

The hardwood of the merbau tree is a rich, warm reddish/brown colour with the occasional fleck of gold/yellow. It has a natural colour variation which brings warmth and depth for any use of this beautiful timber.

Merbau timber has a high tannic acid content and is oily. This combination makes the timber extremely strong, sturdy, stable and resilient, and immune to decay, weathering, termites, mold and fire. It requires less maintenance than some other hardwoods.

The merbau wood is mainly used for decking, fencing, flooring, outdoor furniture, marine construction, music instruments and more.

Much of the Australian supply of merbau timber comes from North Queensland, SE Asia and South Pacific managed plantations. The Kwila tree species can be found in other tropical climates around the world -Indo Pacific islands (Fiji, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, King Islands), and also India, Tanzania and Madagascar.

Treated timber frame with Merbau hardwood decking boards

Why choose Merbau for decking? The advantages.

  • Looks Amazing - The rich colour graduations (red/brown/gold) of merbau timber blend perfectly with surrounding nature. The wavy grain of the timber also adds to its aesthetic appeal.
  • Versatility - Merbau is not as hard as some other hardwood timber varieties, this makes it easier to work with. It can be cut easily which creates more design and shape options. It can be used for decking, flooring, fencing, screening, cladding, marine construction, outdoor furniture and musical instruments. Merbau timber has the highest resistance rating to insects (including termites) and timber fungi. It is also very easy to work with.
  • Bushfire resistant - Being bushfire resistant, merbau timber is extremely suitable for use in bushfire-prone zones. It is one of only seven Australian timbers that is used in bushfire susceptible areas. The other six are: spotted gum, blackbutt, red river gum, turpentine, silvertop ash and red ironbark.
  • Durability - Merbau can handle any type of weather which makes it a very durable timber decking material. It resists shrinking when subjected to heat, water or moisture and this makes merbau a very stable and perfect material for open air use.
  • Longevity - Merbau has a C1 timber durability rating, which is the highest score possible. This makes it a great long lasting timber.

Treated timber frame with Merbau hardwood decking boards

Downsides of Merbau timber

It is important to also look at the negatives when making a decision. Merbau timber does fall short in some areas.

  • Messy and Oily - Merbau has a high tannin content. Tannin is an oily substance that causes the timber to bleed when wet. Materials near your deck (walls, concrete, pavers) may get stained when the merbau timber bleeds.
  • Environmental Considerations - Using merbau (like other timbers) causes deforestation of rainforests. Unsustainable logging practices (mainly overseas) make merbau timber more expensive not only on your pocket, but also the environment. At the present logging rate it is estimated that the Kwila tree could be extinguished within the next 35-40 years. Each tree takes 75-80 years to reach maturity. Individual Kwila trees are scarce and can be difficult to access, hence the surrounding forest is destroyed in the process when logging merbau. Merbau timber is still readily accessible in the Australian market.
  • **Cost **- With all good quality timbers, there are ongoing costs after the initial purchase and install. There will be ongoing maintenance costs to consider too. The main cost being staining every 3-6 months for the rest of the deck's life to keep it in perfect condition.

Merbau pool deck with seating

How to care for Merbau timber

During periods of rain or heavy dew merbau timber can bleed dark brown/red tannins, this is because it is rich in natural oils. Owners can let the merbau timber deck bleed naturally over time or speed the process by using a deck wash.

Regular oiling of the merbau deck is recommended (1-2 times a year). This will keep the timber in great condition and looking beautiful for many years to come while maintaining the rich, warm hues of the timber. The appearance of merbau improves with time.

DeKing Decks can answer all your Merbau timber questions

DeKing Decks pride themselves on using only the highest quality materials which are guaranteed to withstand the Queensland climate. Merbau timber is a very popular choice in South East Queensland. It can tolerate the unrelenting summer heat and storms, everyday wear and tear and the constant pool splashes.

DeKing have in-house design specialists. Whether you want to design the ultimate entertainment area, or need a deck designed for a small backyard pool, the professional team at DeKing Decks will create a practical and stunning solution for you.

Have a look through the gallery of decks that we have previously built to get an idea of what we can offer. Contact us for more information.

DeKing Decks service Brisbane, Redlands, Bayside, Logan, Ipswich, Moreton Bay, Gold Coast, Lockyer Valley and Scenic Rim

See our average cost to build a deck with or without a patio. Or use our Decking Calculator, Patio Roofing Calculator to get a more accurate estimate.