Rubber Wood Furniture Disadvantages to Know

If you buy something through our posts, we may get a small commission. Read more here.

Rubber wood furniture is often marketed as a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to traditional hardwoods. While this type of furniture has its benefits, it’s important to be aware of its drawbacks before making a purchase.

Let me walk you through the top disadvantages of rubber wood furniture, so you’re fully informed before making a purchase decision.

About Rubberwood

The Para rubber tree, native to Africa and Asia and some plantations in South America, is the source of rubberwood, a type of hardwood. 

While these rubberwood trees are primarily known for the production of latex for natural rubber, these can cause latex allergies for some people. Moreover, the rubber wood takes six years to undergo the latex-producing cycle. 

milling rubberwood

They also yield sturdy and adaptable timber of moderate texture, which is utilized in a variety of applications such as cabinetry and furniture.

To add, contrary to popular belief, rubber wood does not solely produce latex. 

Its low cost and high density, with a 995 Janka rating on its hardness scale makes it a popular choice for solid wood furniture.

Disadvantages of Rubberwood Furniture

1. Not Waterproof

Rubber wood exhibits average water absorption properties and does not possess superior waterproof qualities compared to other wood types. For example, it cannot match the waterproofing characteristics of pine, which has a higher level of waterproofing. 

wood painted with Minwax Helmsman Indoor-Outdoor Spar Urethane

If you also use rubberwood for furniture, you may experience seepage problems, particularly when the adhesive holding the wood together begins to deteriorate. 

To minimize the risk of moisture damage, I advise using rubberwood for furniture in low-humidity environments. 

2. Perishable

It is worth noting that rubber wood has a relatively short lifespan, making it susceptible to decay. Aside from rotting, it is also at risk of fungal and insect staining. Both types of stains can significantly reduce the quality of rubberwood furniture.

Moreover, one type of decay it is particularly prone to is white rot, caused by a fungus. Although white rot progresses at a slower pace than brown rot, it results in more extensive damage.

3. Warping and Twisting

One of the significant rubber wood furniture disadvantages to take note of is its tendency to warp and twist due to its high moisture content. As the wood dries, the high moisture content makes it more susceptible to bending and twisting. 

painting furniture with water based paint

To mitigate this issue, you can season rubber wood timber to reduce the amount of warping and twisting that can occur.

4. Not for Outdoor Use

Rubber wood’s inherent tendency to absorb moisture makes it less than ideal for outdoor furniture, as this predisposes it to potential rotting.

Therefore, I’d advise using rubber wood predominantly for indoor furniture pieces. If you do choose to use it outdoors, make sure that your pieces are taken inside during the evenings and throughout the chillier months to prolong their lifespan.

5. Triggers Latex Allergy

It is important to acknowledge that exposure to natural latex found in rubber trees can result in allergic reactions for some individuals with latex allergy.

attaching lumber to a workbench

Those with latex allergy may experience symptoms including rashes, skin irritation, hives, difficulty breathing, and a runny nose, which, in severe cases, could prove fatal. It is crucial for those with a latex allergy to be aware of this potential risk and take necessary precautions.

6. Unattractive Grain Pattern and Texture

Rubber wood is known for having a rough texture and a lackluster grain pattern, which can detract from the overall aesthetic appeal of the furniture. Additionally, the lack of a distinguishable grain pattern often results in poor staining and a prolonged drying time.

7. Leaves Stains from the Seasoning Process

It is necessary to season rubberwood to enhance its durability, but the process may have adverse effects. The use of chemicals for cleaning and preserving the furniture may lead to staining, and although warm water can be used instead, it is not as effective.

8. Prone to Beetles and Other Insect Attacks

Rubber wood is vulnerable to insect infestations, with over 100 species capable of causing damage. 

cutting lumber with table saw

These insects, including termites, beetle borers, and various Coleopteran species like snout beetles and longicorns, can eat away the surface of the wood and bore holes into exposed sections of wood furniture. 

This is one of the major cons of using rubberwood as outdoor furniture.

9. Needs Special Chemical Treatment Procedure Before the Kiln Drying Process

This wood also requires extensive pre-treatment process prior to kiln drying. 

This process involves immersing the raw wood in boron preservatives to diffuse its natural chemicals and regulate moisture content. As a result, purchasing chemically treated rubber wood is a necessity.

10. Rubberwood’s Structure Changes When Dried

When crafting furniture from rubber wood, it’s imperative to adequately season the lumber. As rubber wood dries, its shape undergoes alterations. Proper seasoning ensures stability and longevity in the final product.

rubber wood processing

This process can be challenging due to the high moisture content present in the wood. As a result, it may warp or twist as the wood dries, leading to the need for seasoned wood. 

The time required to properly season rubber wood can range from six months to over a year, depending on the age of the tree. This prolonged seasoning process can lead to increased costs for the consumer.

11. Prone to Damages and Dents

Although rubber wood is considered relatively strong, the wood furniture made from this lumber is prone to damage and must be properly treated. Prolonged exposure to excessive heat, dry conditions, sunlight, and moisture can have adverse effects on rubber wood furniture. 

It is important to avoid exposing the wood furniture to heat sources and direct sunlight, as this can cause discoloration over time. Spills from liquids like alcohol and water must also be promptly cleaned to prevent damage to the finish.

12. Planted Using Anti Eco-Friendly Procedures

The expansion of rubber tree plantations for the production of wood for furniture has often resulted in negative environmental impacts.

cutting wooden slabs from lumber

In order to support both the versatile timber and latex industries, estate owners expand their operations and clear vast areas of virgin rainforest, leading to a reduction in biodiversity, particularly in regions such as Brazil. 

Additionally, the expansion of these rubber plantations can also exacerbate problems such as localized erosion, water usage, and the introduction of chemicals into the environment.

13. Self-Importing Raw Rubberwood to Make Furniture

Obtaining rubber wood furniture may require extra effort as it is primarily available through specialty retailers and must be imported in most cases. 

To make your own wood furniture, you would need to obtain an import license and work with a specialized importer, which adds to the cost of utilizing this wood. 

rubber wood furniture

As a result, rubber wood furniture is not commonly found in markets such as Europe or North America.

14. Slippery When it Gets Wet

Despite the kiln-drying process of rubber wood prior to being transformed into wood furniture and other products, it still retains its porous nature. 

The process serves to shrink the pores, creating a dense grain that is able to absorb water while also promoting hydroplaning. As a result, rubber wood furniture may become slippery when wet, making certain items such as chairs hazardous to use. 

Additionally, prolonged exposure to moisture or storage in high-humidity conditions can cause the wood to expand, potentially compromising its structure and rendering it unusable.

15. Not Suitable for Chemical Agents or Cleaners

Although rubber wood is naturally resistant to stains, it remains susceptible to damage from exposure to chemicals after the seasoning process. Using common household detergents or abrasive cleaning products can result in staining and potentially permanent damage. 

enzyme cleaners

I’d advise cleaning rubber wood furniture with a mix of soap and warm water, ensuring you dry it immediately afterward. While you can use polishing oils or grease, it’s crucial to wipe them off quickly to maintain the furniture’s aesthetic appeal.

16. Not Suitable for Making Large Goods or Furniture

It is common to find rubber wood furniture options limited to smaller pieces, such as chairs and smaller tables, rather than larger items like dressers and wardrobes. 

This is due to the lightweight nature of rubber wood, which may not be sturdy enough to support heavier pieces; unless it is combined with other materials like particle board or pressure treated. 

While it is possible to find whole wood furniture items made entirely of rubberwood like cabinets, the focus tends to be on smaller items.

17. Quite Expensive for DIY

In considering options for solid wood furniture, it is important to note that rubberwood offers a cost-effective alternative, but it may not be the most economical option available especially for DIY furniture makers. 

working with rubberwood

Locally sourced pine or Malaysian oak can often be more affordable, particularly for those who are interested in DIY wood furniture making, as there are no tariff or import costs associated with these woods. 

In some regions, hardwoods such as walnut or maple family may be even more cost-effective. So, before making a final decision, I recommend considering its prices as this is one of the notable disadvantages of rubber wood furniture. 

Advantages of Rubberwood

1. Cost-Effective

A notable advantage of rubberwood furniture is its affordability. It’s generally more budget-friendly compared to tropical hardwoods or other prevalent materials like ash and maple wood.

2. Sustainable

Rubberwood is a highly sustainable resource due to its efficient replacement process. The swift replanting of cut rubberwood plantations ensures a continuous supply, making it an environmentally responsible choice.

3. Resistance to Fire

Rubberwood is noted for its exceptional resistance to heat and its low flammability, making it a suitable option for wood furniture utilized near fireplaces. Additionally, it has the ability to remain cool even in high-temperature environments.

rubber wood table and cabinet

4. Easy to Work With/Manageable

Rubberwood is known for its ease of processing and finishing, as it can be readily sawed, cut, screwed, and finished to the desired specifications. Furthermore, refinishing rubber wood furniture enhances its resistance to weather conditions.

5. Creates Quality Funiture

Rubberwood is a highly suitable material for the creation of wooden furniture. Solid rubberwood furniture is characterized by its strength and lightweight nature, making it an ideal choice for various applications and high-quality furniture.

6. Stable to Use

Rubberwood is renowned for its durability and stability, comparable to traditional hardwoods used in quality furniture-making. 

Through proper seasoning, it provides a consistent profile suitable for creating long-lasting wood furniture pieces that could potentially be passed down as heirlooms. 

measuring lumber

With a Janka wood hardness scale of 988, rubberwood ranks in the middle of lumber resources, being harder than American Cherry but slightly softer than teak wood. This translates to a lifespan of between 15 to 25 years of consistent use before any signs of wear and tear become noticeable.

7. Straightforward Maintenance Process

The care and maintenance of rubberwood furniture are similar to that of other solid wood furniture. It’s best to clean it with a gentle soap and water mixture at least once a year, followed by a thorough drying using a clean cloth.

To preserve its finish, it is important to avoid prolonged exposure to standing water. 

While the natural glow of rubberwood can be enhanced with furniture or paste wax, I’d recommend periodically stripping away the wax. Over time, it can yellow and become a magnet for household dirt and debris.

8. Excellent Shock Absorption

Rubberwood is widely utilized in gymnasiums and other similar buildings due to its superior shock-absorbing properties when compared to other wooden products. 

lumber sizes

This advantage is maintained even when the raw material is transformed into wood furniture, offering cushioning and comfort to individuals. 

In addition, this feature is particularly beneficial for seniors and those with physical vulnerabilities, as it reduces stress and promotes better movement, contributing to an improved quality of life.

Tips for Finishing Rubberwood

Rubberwood is known for its ease of finishing. However, I’d lean towards using oils and paints over stains. The lack of pronounced grain patterns in rubberwood means that stains might not always yield the best finish.

Now, if you’re looking to breathe new life into your rubberwood furniture, let’s dive into the revitalization process.

testing wood stain on rubberwood

Maintaining Rubberwood Surfaces

Maintaining the integrity and appearance of rubberwood furniture can be efficiently accomplished through proper pre-treatment of the wood. We recommend adhering to the following guidelines.

Comparing Rubberwood to Other Common Wood Types

If you are contemplating the comparative durability of rubberwood furniture against other prevalent types of hardwoods and softwoods, here’s a quick comparison of these wood types:

mahogany wood grains

Solid Wood

It is important to note that there is no fundamental distinction between rubberwood and solid wood. Rubberwood, similar to well-known solid wood species such as oak, teak, acacia, and maple,  is a solid wood material. 


The primary disparities between oakwood and rubberwood lie in their coloration and grain structure. White oak is light in color and exhibits a faint greenish hue, while red oak, which is the more commonly used species, presents a reddish-brown hue. 

In comparison, rubberwood features a similar rough texture but with a more uniform, straight grain pattern. Additionally, oak is more costly than rubberwood due to its density and hardness.


Birchwood and rubberwood furniture possess numerous similarities, such as similar coloration, quality, and density. Furthermore, they are both susceptible to insect infestations and fungal discoloration.

Birch wood table

Despite these similarities, there are many differences between the two materials as well. For example, rubberwood is significantly more economical compared to birch, while birch exhibits a more unique and attractive grain pattern.


In comparison to maple wood, rubberwood is considered to be of lower quality. Firstly, maple wood has a higher strength rating (1450 vs. 995 Janka), making it more robust and scratch resistant. Secondly, maple is known for its greater durability compared to rubberwood. 

Most notably, maple wood is better able to withstand both weather elements and insect infestations compared to rubberwood.


Acacia is considered to be of a higher quality than rubberwood due to its higher Janka hardness rating of 2350, as compared to rubberwood’s 995 Janka. This increased hardness also contributes to acacia’s greater strength. 

Acacia lumber

In addition, acacia wood boasts a warm and natural appearance, while rubber wood furniture has a manufactured and economical look.


Is rubberwood good for making furniture?

Rubberwood is good for making furniture. It is both durable and resistant to scratching. Moreover, its light color and smooth texture provide an excellent base for various finishes, allowing for a wide range of design options.

Furthermore, rubberwood boasts a density level comparable to maple and ash wood and surpasses that of some well-known Asian hardwood. 

How long does rubberwood last?

Rubberwood can last for 20 to 40 years on average, but this can vary depending on factors such as the manufacturing quality, usage, and the environment in which it is kept.

Is rubberwood low quality?

Rubberwood is not necessarily low quality, but it is considered a lower-cost alternative to traditional hardwoods like oak and maple. 

It is important to note that the quality of rubberwood can vary depending on factors such as the age of the tree, growing conditions, and the manufacturing process.

Does rubberwood darken with age?

Yes, rubberwood can darken with age due to exposure to light and air. Over time, the color of rubberwood can change from its light blonde or tan color to a darker brown or reddish hue. 

This darkening can add character and warmth to the wood, but it can also cause some discoloration if not desired. 

Is rubberwood real wood?

Rubberwood is real wood, as it is not engineered wood. There is a widespread misconception that rubberwood is elastic and thus not a comparable material to solid wood. 

In reality, rubberwood is a light-colored, medium-density hardwood derived from the Pará rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis).

Is rubberwood considered hardwood?

Rubberwood is classified as a hardwood. The rubberwood tree is a deciduous tree that grows at a rapid pace and can reach medium to tall heights. It has evolved to withstand extended periods of drought and cold stress. 

Similar to many other hardwoods, the new rubber trees feature large leaves that are oblong in shape and can grow up to 30 inches (76 cm) in length. These leaves are shed annually during the mid-dry season.

Is rubberwood toxic?

Rubberwood itself is not toxic. Contrary to popular belief, rubberwood does not cause cancer. Additionally, smoke generated from burning rubberwood is also non-toxic. 

However, the chemicals used in treating rubber trees may not be as safe. It is also worth mentioning that some individuals may experience severe latex allergy [1] from exposure to rubberwood latex.


Rubberwood, with its durability and eco-friendliness, is undeniably a favored choice for furniture. However, it isn’t without its downsides.

Despite the disadvantages of rubber wood furniture, many people still choose it for their furniture due to its affordability and sustainability. With proper care and maintenance, it can still provide a long-lasting and functional piece of quality furniture.

robert headshot

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles
Join our community on facebook and get 3 woodworking plans for free!