If you have come across the term “parawood” in your DIY excursions, perhaps you found yourself questioning just what is parawood? Is it something that you should consider investing in for your home remodel, furniture builds or DIY wood projects? If you are wanting to learn more, in this article we will be going over all the in’s and out’s that parawood has to offer, and why it may be the perfect fit for your next project.
So, what is Parawood? Parawood is the type of wood that grows from rubber trees (also known as Malaysian Oak trees) and is more commonly known as rubberwood. They grow in regions like Brazil and Southeast Asia, and they produce a sappy-type of material that is similar in texture to that of latex, which gives it an incredibly durable and fine texture.
Though parawood is quite popular today for furniture, cabinetry, and countless other options, parawood was not always so favored for use. This is mainly due to the fact that the tree itself was quite susceptible to the growth of fungi and insect attacks.
Interestingly, during the 1980s, tree plantations began to develop and utilize different chemicals that could assist in protecting the rubber trees from both fungi and insects, which led to an increase in their popularity.
Parawood trees can grow upwards to 75 feet with a 3-foot diameter, and it is also very eco-friendly in terms of being a fantastic renewable resource (Killmann & Hong, 2000). This is due to the fact that rubber trees are felled with ease and plantations are quick to harvest the wood and replant the trees quickly. This process ensures that the plantations are continuously producing that latex material from the rubber trees.
These trees also create a tremendous amount of wood that can be used for various purposes. However, the wood is only harvested after the tree has stopped producing latex (known as the end of the latex cycle).
There are several other interesting characteristics that set rubber trees apart from other types of trees. One is that rubber trees give off a pale-yellow wood tint that is significantly different than that of other kinds of trees, whereas the wood of other trees is more of a light or dark brown color.
This makes parawood incredibly versatile for use in homes. Parawood is also similar to woods like mahogany in that its texture is quite compact and grainy, making it incredibly sturdy and durable, another reason why so many wood-workers, home-builders, and furniture makers are using it more frequently.
Why Choose Parawood
Over the years, parawood has suffered from many misconceptions about its overall quality, safety, and durability. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. As parawood is considered to be a “hardwood”, it is actually a truly durable and strong wood. And it is highly regarded as being easy to work with, making it a favorite among furniture crafters.
Parawood is a notably strong wood because of its highly dense grain. But, it is also a very soft type of wood that is shock-absorbant, which makes it great for hardwood floors. This ensures that the floors of your home are quite comfortable to walk on.
It is especially great for use in playrooms, living rooms, bedrooms, and even home gyms! The special shock-absorbing factor is perfect for people who suffer from joint pain, as the flooring will decrease stress in your limbs as you walk.
Parawood is known to be fire-resistant, which is beneficial in terms of both floor installation and cabinetry, as well as furniture design. Further, parawood is not believed to give off toxic fumes in the event of a fire.
While parawood is most definitely loaded with perks, everything comes with disadvantages as well. For example, parawood can be on the higher end of the price range, which can certainly set some people back who may be on a tight budget.
It is also known to stain very easily, so you will have to watch for water rings and other issues that may put your parawood at risk of developing stains. It can be a bit more tricky to clean as well because abrasive detergents and cleaning components simply are not a good fit and can cause damage to the wood.
Parawood is a very smooth type of wood. While this can be a good perk, it is also a drawback due largely to the fact that it can become incredibly slippery when it gets wet, which is a challenge if you plan on installing parawood floors in areas with high foot traffic.
Best Uses for Parawood
There are a ton of great uses for parawood. It can be used for kitchen cabinetry, indoor furniture, gym floors, and other hardwood floors, among others (Ratnasingham & Scholz, 2006). Parawood is a wonderfully resilient type of wood that is not only beautiful but also easy to care for, which really sets it apart from other kinds of wood.
Parawood’s durability and soft composition make it great for use as a hardwood floor due to its shock-absorbing qualities, which is one of the main reasons why many designers and contractors are opting to utilize it for the elderly in places like retirement homes and other elder care facilities. It is helpful for assisting in absorbing some of the stress on your joints, easing pain in patients and the elderly.
Parawood V.s Other Types of Lumber
There are seemingly endless options when it comes to lumber available on the market, and it may feel overwhelming to make a selection. Here, we will be putting parawood up against a couple of other types of lumber to see how it compares. This is a great way to determine which type of lumber is going to be in your best interest for whatever your building or furniture needs and desires are.
Parawood Vs. Oak
Parawood and oak are actually quite similar in nature, due to the fact that both trees are from the oak family and are often used for similar purposes. They are both quite grainy in texture and boast a very smooth finish. However, they vary in their durability. Parawood is known to be more durable because it boasts a shrinkage value that is lower than standard oak, making the inside of the wood more compact.
Parawood also does not damage as easily as regular oak, and it is known to last a lot longer as well if it is properly cared for. On the contrary, oak is not as prone to attracting fungi and bugs, as is the case with parawood, and it can withstand moisture much better than parawood can.
Parawood Vs. Beechwood
Beechwood and parawood actually have quite a bit in common as well. Both are pale-colored in shade and are quite shock absorbent. However, where parawood is a softer type of wood, making it better for use as a hardwood floor, beechwood is more of a medium-to-hard wood, making it easier to stain.
Parawood Vs. Pine
There are more differences between pinewood and parawood than that of oak. One of the main differences is that while parawood produces latex, pinewood creates resin. This one difference means that each type of wood will be better suited for different things.
Further, pinewood does not rot as easily as parawood, and it is far better suited for use in the crafting of outdoor furniture and exterior walls and other types of structures. On the other hand, parawood is better suited for the crafting of indoor furniture due to the fact that it is much better looking and has a more comfortable texture. And, with proper care, it will outlast pinewood as well.
You can read about how to finish pine wood in my blog post “What is the Best Finish For Pine“.
Parawood Vs. Maple
Maple wood has various hues that can range from white to a more grey-brown tone. That is the most noticeable factor that separates it from parawood. Maple is also a type of wood that is used mainly for sports-related items, like hockey sticks, recurve bows, bowling pins, and even wood baseball bats, largely due to just how tough this wood is.
All in all, which one is going to be the best fit for you largely depends on what you are planning to do with the wood itself. If you know how to properly maintain parawood, it is certainly a great option for many applications.
Tips for Treating and Care of Parawood
Parawood may seem like a high maintenance wood, but it is actually quite easy to take care of when you know how to do so. Be sure to wash your parawood items with mild dish soap and water solution at least once a year, and then thoroughly dry it in order to prevent moisture build-up in the wood. Moisture build-up can encourage both fungi growth and bugs.
You will also want to keep it sparkling and bright with the use of wood wax. As dirt will obviously collect over time, be sure to strip the wax off occasionally and redo it to ensure that your parawood is always looking its very best.
Parawood can start to discolor if it is in a dry or hot area. Heat can also leave white rings, so be sure to avoid putting hot objects in direct contact, including cups, pots, and pans. If you must set a hot item on the surface of your parawood, be sure to use a coaster or an oven mitt in order to prevent heat damage.
If a spill occurs on the surface of your parawood, immediately clean up the spill and wipe it down with rubbing alcohol or warm water to help prevent any damage from occurring to your wood.
Working with Parawood
If you plan on using this in your next woodworking project here are some tips to help you along.
If you are planning on cutting parawood yourself, it is advisable to use a back sawing technique. This will ensure that any faulty area of the wood can be cut around so that you can get the most out of your parawood. Back sawing will allow you the opportunity to cut the board so that the face of the wood and the rings of it are parallel to each other. This technique ensures that there is added strength to the wood and that you are getting the most out of your parawood.
NOTE: If you are interested in learning more about the best types of saws for cutting this and other types of wood, take a moment to check out our saw article here.
If you are needing to sand your parawood, be sure to always follow the grain of the wood. Start with a #120 grade of sandpaper for the really rough spots, and then follow up with a #220 grade to smooth it out. When you are all finished sanding, you can remove the sand-dust with a lint-free cloth.
Staining and Finishing
As is the case with sanding your parawood, if you are planning on staining it, you will want to follow the grain of the wood as well. Test a small patch of the wood so that you can be sure that the wood will soak in the stain in a manner that you desire. Allow the wood to absorb the stain for about 5 to 10 minutes, and then wipe away the extra stain using a cloth.
- Apply a second coat if needed: You will also want to put a protective finish coat after the stain has fully dried as well for long-lasting and great-looking results. If you find that paint or stains do not adhere to the project you are working on, you will want to apply a primer and allow it to dry for at least two hours before re-applying your paint or stain. Another good tip is to apply your paint and primer using a roller instead of a brush, if possible, in order to avoid leaving brush strokes.
There are a number of reasons why parawood is a wonderful option for either your furniture or your home remodeling needs. Parawood is durable, reliable, soft, beautiful, and more often than not, priced just right. If you are considering using parawood in your home remodel, or if you are looking to change or upgrade the furniture in your home, parawood is a great choice. And with the proper care and consideration, your parawood will certainly stand up against both time and stress.
However, it is of the utmost importance to keep in mind that parawood, just as other types of wood, requires a good amount of care, and often will not stand up to everything you put it through.
If you are considering incorporating parawood into your home for whatever reason, be sure to take into strong consideration just what it is that you are wanting to use parawood for in the first place. Just because parawood is a great option for some things (like hardwood floors), does not mean that it is perfect for other things (like replacing your outdoor furniture).
If you are not really sure whether utilizing parawood is going to be in your best interest, be sure to reach out to a professional home or interior designer or a licensed contractor for some ideas and insight. Tell them what you are planning on doing and what you would like to do with parawood. They can better provide you with options and whether parawood is even going to be a good choice for your application.
Make sure you will get the most out of what you will be paying for, and you are not wasting your time or money on something that is not going to work out for the long term. Save yourself the stress; if you are in any doubt, have a professional visit your home for a fee.
Killmann, W., & Hong, L.T. (2000). Rubberwood – the success of an agricultural by-product. Unasylva 201(51), 66-72. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/tempref/docrep/fao/x4565e/X4565E10.PDF
Ratnasingam, J., & Scholz, F. (2006). Optimal Surface Roughness for High-Quality Finish on Rubberwood (Hevea brasiliensis). Holz Roh Werkst 64(4), 343-345. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/s00107-005-0068-6
Wikipedia contributors. (2019). Rubberwood. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Rubberwood&oldid=903224440
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