Wood species – Overview

 

Wood – a sustainable, renewable raw material which is unbelievably versatile.  Every piece of timber is different.  Every species of wood is unique by way of its grain, colour and structure.  Thanks to the huge variety of tree types there are innumerable species of wood which can be categorised by their properties, hardness and weight.  Depending on its intended use one species of wood will be more appropriate than another.  Discover the special properties of the different wood species from our portfolio.

Portfolio from Hiram Floors – Overview of our wood species

 

Douglas Fir

 

Oak

 

Ash

 

Silver Fir

 

Each species of wood is characterised by different properties and has its own advantages as well as drawbacks.  At the same time we set great store by sourcing exclusively high-quality wood from sustainably managed forests.  Find out what type of wood is suitable for your needs in our experts’ articles.

Resilience of wood

 

The stability or durability of all wood species can be determined according to certain classifications or norms.  These are applied predominantly for the use of wood in exterior areas.

The DIN- EN 350 – 2  standard for example gives an overview of the natural resilience of all types of wood to timber-destroying organisms like fungi or pests.   It divides the wood into durability classifications from 1 (very durable) to 5 (not durable).

 

Local wood species versus exotic wood species

 

Most of our locally grown wood species cannot match exotic wood species in terms of resistance to weathering, hence exotic wood types are popular for use in exterior areas such as outdoor decking or façade elements.  This does not mean that our local wood species are totally unsuited for exterior areas.  One just has to be aware that the longevity of the wood, under the influence of sun, wind, rain, snow, etc. will be more limited than exotic wood if left without any protection.

 The table provides information on the degree of difference in the wood types thought to be the most widely used in Europe, as regards their natural durability against fungi and pests in outside areas.   While this norm is commonly used for wood for exterior areas, it has hardly any influence on interior use, since no weathering takes place.

Wood type | Durability class (in heartwood area)
Ipé (Exot) | 1
Mahogany (Exot) | 2
Bangkirai (Exot) | 2
Bongossi (Exot) | 2
European Oak (native species) | 2
German Douglas fir, Larch | 3 - 4
Spruce, Silver fir | 4
Ash | 5
Type of wood at approx. 8 - 10 % wood moisture | Hardness in N/mm²
Ipé (Exot) | 72
Mahogany (Exot) | 38
Bangkirai (Exot) | 63
Bongossi (Exot) | 55
European Oak (native species) | 34
German Douglas fir, Larch | 18; 19
Spruce, Silver fir | 12
Ash | 38

The hardness of the different wood species

 

Wood species distinguish themselves by way of their hardness.  While weather resistance qualities are the deciding factor for exterior use, it is principally the hardness of the wood that people look for in interior use.

 

Softwood versus hardwood

Softwoods grow in colder regions.  As a rule this comprises the evergreen conifers.  They grow faster compared to hardwoods.  Softwoods are mostly suitable for both exterior and interior areas.  Douglas fir and spruce, for example, belong to the softwoods.

Hardwoods, like the oak, beech or maple, for example, are mainly used in interiors.  They come from the family of broad-leaved trees and are more versatile than softwoods.  Oak timber is an example of a hardwood.

It is widely claimed that conifers belong to the softwoods, while broad-leaved trees all belong to the hardwoods.  This is indeed true for most wood species.  However, there are a few exceptions.  Softwood has a Brinell hardness of up to 20 N/mm², while hardwood begins at about 31 N/mm².   Any species of wood in between is medium-hard.

Recognising wood species – Categorising the wood according to its colour

 

Each species of wood has its own natural colour.  The colour palette ranges from a whitish shade via bright tones to reddish and brownish variations.

The colour of each wood type is determined by the consistency of the wood.   Incoming light and incoming ultra-violet rays penetrate the wood to a varying extent.  The production process and the drying of the timber also have an influence on these colourations.

 

• Whitish, for example pine (silver fir), maple or chestnut

• Yellowish, for example ash, Douglas fir or birch

• Red-brown, for example alder, copper beech or red oak

• Brownish, for example oak or acacia

• Blackish, for example ebony

 

The surface treatment of a particular wood species can also heighten or alter the colour tone.  You can play with the natural colour of the wood.   The natural wood tone is retained with a clear lacquer or with natural oiling, whilst providing adequate protection and suitable care.  Naturally, an individual wood tone can also be achieved with follow-up treatment and different colours of oils or lyes.  This applies to flooring as well as to all other furnishings made of wood.  The treatment selected then dictates how exactly the floor should be maintained.