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Balau appearance wood uses and lumber

Balau is not a single tree species but used for trees of the shorea genus. These trees grow in the tropical rainforests all throughout Asia. In total there are over 190 tree species labelled as balau and all part of the dipterocarpaceae family. The trees are famous for their hardwood qualities. Balau lumber is heavy, high density and very durable lumber. The hardwoods are heavily traded and as a result many species are now listed as endangered. Luckily trees classed as balau also grown on plantations but illegal logging still is a great concern.

Balau trees, leaf and fruit description

Balau trees can grow to heights up to 130 feet or 40 meters. The majority of the trees are classed as evergreen but some species are semi evergreen. Leaves of these tree species are leathery and oblong to elliptic shaped. Balau leaves can reach lengths up to 12 inches or 32 cm and vary in colour from light to dark green and yellow. Tree fruits are mostly egg shaped with wings to transport the seeds further. The seeds contain high levels of oil and are a good fuel source. Leaves and fruits of some balau tree species are suitable and used for cattle feed.

Balau tree bark, resin and trunk

Young tree species in general have smooth grey, green or reddish bark. When the trees get older the bark gets darker, rougher and sometimes deeply fissured. Balau has high levels of aromatic resin that is tapped for many different uses. Tree trunks classed as balau vary in diameter. Older trees can have long and straight trunks with a diameter over 10 feet or 3 meters.

Balau wood properties and durability

Fresh balau heartwood has a yellow to brown color and gets darker when exposed to sunlight. The sapwood is paler then the heartwood. Balau wood has a moderately fine and even texture. The average dried weight of the wood at a moisture content of 12% is 930 kg per cubic meter. The durability of balau wood is classed as I high durability. It has high density and high bending strength and good shock resistance.

Balau wood working tips and uses

Balau wood is one of the most used and traded tropical hardwoods. It is difficult to work with hand tools because of its hardness and high density. Pre drilling is always advised when screws or nails are used. Balau will absorb paint quick. It is therefore recommended to use special oils that soak into the wood well. The lumber can be glued but due to its high density it is advised to use special heavy duty glue. Fresh wood contains resin and therefore need to dry well before handling. Balau wood is used in a wide range of products like heavy construction but also as flooring, decking, furniture, toys, veneer and much more

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