You might have come across the buzz about rubberwood being an eco-friendly option, but the burning question is, can it stand the test of time when it comes to crafting furniture? Moreover, you might be pondering whether it boasts any distinctive characteristics that differentiate it from its wooden counterparts.
If this is your concern, let me unravel the truth about rubberwood as a furniture material. In this post, I’ll uncover the essential facts you need to be armed with before considering it for your investment.
What Is Rubberwood?
Rubberwood, derived from the Pará rubber tree, scientifically known as Hevea brasiliensis, is a timber species primarily cultivated in South America, Africa, and Asia. It is a popular choice for various woodworking applications due to its unique properties and widespread availability.
These trees are grown for their latex, which is used to make rubber. However, when the trees can no longer produce latex, they are cut down and made into rubberwood, known as a very durable type of wood.
How is Rubberwood Used for Furniture?
Rubberwood is a type of wood that is good for making furniture because of its flexibility and medium density, similar to ash and maple.
It’s commonly used to make trays, carvings, and cabinetry because it’s cheaper than other types of wood.
Rubberwood is light in color, but it gets darker as time passes by, so it’s important to stain and maintain it regularly. Though it is environmentally friendly and easy to work with, it’s vulnerable to insects and can warp easily.
Is it Good for Indoor Furniture?
Rubberwood is a suitable option for indoor furniture due to its attractive appearance, resistance to fire, ability to withstand scratches, and it is also easy to carry.
Rubberwood indoor furniture can last a period of time when taken care of correctly through staining and maintaining its good condition. It is used to make various indoor furniture pieces such as flooring, window frames, drawers, carvings, chairs, tables, and cabinets.
However, rubberwood absorbs moisture easily and can rot, so I do not recommend it in very damp environments such as bathrooms, despite being sealed properly.
How About Outdoor Furniture?
It’s important to note that rubberwood isn’t the best choice for outdoor use. This wood has a tendency to soak up moisture quite swiftly, like a sponge, which can lead to its quick deterioration when exposed to the elements.
Additionally, over time, rubberwood tends to darken as it gets exposed to UV light and direct sunlight. So, for outdoor projects, it’s wise to opt for a different type of wood that can withstand the rigors of Mother Nature more effectively.
However, rubberwood can still be used as outdoor furniture, such as patios and balcony chairs. In order to maintain their good condition, I suggest that regular maintenance is necessary.
Is It Ideal for Dining Tables?
Rubberwood is great for dining tables because it is durable and resistant to scratches. Properly sealed or stained rubberwood dining tables can help keep them in great shape for a long period of time without any problems.
How to Properly Maintain Rubberwood-Made Furniture
Tip #1: Apply the Proper Sealer
Rubberwood is good for staining but requires a considerable time when drying. To utilize rubberwood furniture for outdoor and indoor purposes, it must be properly sealed and stained.
To ensure its maintenance, it is vital to perform proper sealing at least once a year. The following steps are essential for achieving an excellent finish when sealing rubberwood:
- Get rid of old coatings and completely scrub the surface.
- Smooth the surface with sandpaper (150-grit) and wipe away any sawdust.
- Use a pre-stain conditioner for wood and allow it to cure and dry.
- Apply a coat of sealant or stainer using a brush, foam roller, or sprayer, ensuring that you cover the surface evenly.
- Then, wait for the sealant or stain to dry completely.
If necessary, repeat the process by sanding and applying more coats of sealant until you achieve the desired finish.
Tip #2: Make Sure to Clean it Regularly
It is crucial to clean the rubberwood surface regularly to eliminate dirt and other debris.
However, I highly suggest that it is best to use only water and soap while cleaning furniture made of rubberwood. Using chemical cleaners on furniture like rubberwood can lead to the wood’s quick deterioration, as the wood is highly sensitive to chemicals.
Tip #3: Oiling Rubberwood Furniture Periodically
To keep rubberwood furniture shiny and avoid damage like scratches and cracks, apply tung oil or Danish oil, which also helps protect the wood from moisture. Based on my research, Danish oil is non-toxic and safe for food.
Thus, it is suitable to use on rubberwood kitchen furniture and toys. For better maintenance of rubberwood furniture, I recommend applying Danish oil regularly, ideally every year, before its previous coating fades.
Tip #4: Keep it Away from Too Much Cold and Heat
Frequent temperature changes can harm the shape and durability of rubberwood. To safeguard the rubberwood furniture from warping and twisting due to extreme temperatures, cover it up during inclement weather or store it in a secure location.
Furthermore, direct exposure to sunlight can have adverse effects on the mechanical properties of the rubberwood and cause it to lose its aesthetic appeal by darkening its color.
Rubber Wood Furniture: Advantages & Disadvantages
Rubberwood furniture offers an economical and eco-friendly choice, making it a great pick for budget-conscious and environmentally-aware consumers.
However, if you’re seeking furniture that’s exceptionally sturdy or boasts top-notch aesthetics, it might not be the optimal choice for your needs.
In the following discussion, let’s delve into the unique benefits and drawbacks of rubberwood furniture, shedding light on its distinct set of advantages and disadvantages.
Not Prone to Scratches
It has a 995 rating for Janka hardness, indicating moderate strength and low susceptibility to scratches. This quality makes it an inexpensive choice for furniture, as well as resistant to scratches.
It is a hardwood that is known for its strength and durability. Also, it can withstand everyday wear and tear due to its tightly-packed arrangement of wood fibers or grain.
It is regarded as a secondary product, resulting in it being sold at a lower price compared to other types of wood.
To take care of rubberwood furniture, use a solution of water and mild soap in cleaning it annually, then make sure to use a clean rag to dry the rubberwood furniture.
If you choose to apply wax to rubberwood furniture for a glossy appearance, it’s important to remove it frequently to prevent the buildup of household dirt and debris.
It lacks distinct natural character or grain, which makes it less visually appealing than other types of hardwood.
Susceptible to Damages
It is typically resilient and durable, but it can be at risk of harm from insects, heart rot, or fungal rot. If not maintained and cared for properly, the wood may deteriorate rapidly and become prone to decay.
Heavily Treated Wood
Without adequate seasoning and treatment, rubberwood may not possess enough strength to be used in furniture production. Although it is eco-friendly, it still requires extensive treatment to become suitable for hardwood use.
Fragile to Chemical Cleaners
Rubberwood can withstand certain stains, but it becomes vulnerable to damage when exposed to chemicals. In addition, rubberwood can be negatively affected by typical household cleaning agents  and polishes, resulting in possible staining and potentially irreversible damage.
Are Rubberwoods Waterproof? Will it Rot Easily?
Rubberwood is not waterproof and shouldn’t be used outdoors, especially during rainy weather. The wood’s protective chemicals can be washed away, making it prone to insect infestations and fungal growth.
Furthermore, too much moisture can cause the wood to become deformed and rot.
Is Rubberwood a Softwood or Hardwood?
Rubberwood is a hardwood. It scores a 995 pounds-force (lbf) rating scale of Janka hardness, making it stronger than many other types of wood.
Thus, its moderate hardness level is regarded as very valuable in the industry of furniture manufacturing.
Rubberwood stands out as a solid choice for crafting furniture, thanks to its reasonable cost and ready availability. Yet, like most things, it’s not without its drawbacks.
Therefore, when contemplating rubberwood for your indoor furniture projects, it’s crucial to bear in mind these potential downsides and implement measures to safeguard its longevity and resilience.
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