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Timber for Construction Projects

There are as many different types of timber as there are species of trees, making it essential to know the different characteristics of different types of timber before purchasing anything for a job or project. For example, craft woodworking timber has entirely different properties and characteristics to timber and composites needed for an outdoor decking project.

Softwood and Hardwood

Almost all timber can be classified as either softwood or hardwood. Softwood, such as pine, fir and cedar come from coniferous species of trees which grow more quickly than hardwood tree species, and produce a lighter wood with a coarse grain. While softwoods are not as strong as hardwoods, they do have their place in the world of timber projects. Apart from being cheaper to purchase than hardwoods, softwoods are perfectly suited for constructing house frames and fitting out interior aspects of houses, including for cladding and lining. Hardwoods, on the other hand, are comparatively slow growing and therefore more expensive, better suited to providing timber furniture, decking and flooring.

Understanding Timber Fire Risk

Timber buildings constructed in high-risk areas of Australia must conform to Australian standards and local building codes. Seven Australian timbers have been identified as suitable for use in building construction in high fire risk areas of Australia, namely turpentine, red ironbark, silvertop ash, blackbutt, river red gum, kwila and spotted gum. In all instances, however, the timber must be at least 18 mm thick to be considered suitable for use in an area prone to fires.

Choosing Timber for Floorboards

Floorboard construction is one of the most common reasons for Australians to find themselves in the market for timber. A variety of different Australian timbers can conceivably be used to construct floorboards; however, the choice will ultimately come down to the look you wish to achieve and the desired durability of your floor. In the past, pine was the timber of choice for many floorboard projects, almost solely due to its aesthetic appeal, but as a softwood, it wears out quickly when used as flooring. On the other hand, spotted gum, blackbutt and jarrah – prime examples of hardwood timber prevalent in Australia – are much more suited to withstanding the rigours of daily use.

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