Specifying timber species in marine and freshwater construction

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Historically, the UK construction industry has favoured a narrow range of tried and tested hardwood timbers for use in marine and freshwater applications.


Over-reliance on a small number of species is not compatible within sustainable forest management, as certain species are being over-exploited. This is likely to reduce the security of supply and cause inflationary price pressures in the future.


This Wood Information Sheet provides guidance on the technical properties of a number of lesser-used species of hardwoods that may be used for marine and freshwater construction.



  • Background
  • The advantages and disadvantages of using timber in marine and freshwater environments
  • Biological risks
  • Non-biological risks
  • Timber sourcing issues
  • Specifying and using timber in marine and freshwater environments
  • Structural design
  • Promoting the lesser-used species.


This Wood Information Sheet was revised in June 2019. Minor amendments have been made to the 'Timber sourcing' and 'Promoting lesser-used species' sections.



Suggested Reading

New research identifies additional species for use in marine and freshwater constructionnavigation-arrow

This report summarises the main findings of a collaborative research project funded by the Environment Agency and TRADA, which aimed to identify additional species for use in marine and freshwater construction.

The research examined the performance of 18 lesser-used species (LUS) tropical hardwoods, benchmarked against greenheart and ekki. Five...

01/01/2010 |  Other Technical Guidance  

Assessment of the durability and engineering properties of lesser-known hardwood timber species for use in marine and freshwater constructionnavigation-arrow

This collaborative research project between TRADA, the Environment Agency and HR Wallingford investigates the strength properties of five LUS - cupuiba, angelim, okan, tali and eveuss as an alternative to the frequently used Greenheart and Ekki.

In addition, this research report identifies marine borer and abrasion resistance of a range...

01/01/2010 |  Other Technical Guidance  

Structural use of hardwoodsnavigation-arrow

Although the vast majority of structural timber in the UK is softwood, there is a significant interest in hardwoods from both temperate and tropical regions for structural applications. When using hardwoods in structures, the specifier may need to take more interest in the species, its origin and its moisture condition...

19/03/2020 |  Wood Information Sheet