Timbers – their properties and uses

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This sheet sets out the properties and uses of 140 timber species used in the UK. This can be used to help with species selection or to identify species with comparable properties when alternatives are required.


The data is presented alphabetically by standard name and includes the botanical name for the species, region of origin, timber type and colour, average density, texture, moisture movement, working qualities, natural durability (fungi), treatability (heartwood) and availability. Remarks on notable features, where applicable, are included. Finally, common uses for each timber are listed.


This sheet has been comprehensively reviewed and updated where necessary. Specifiers should be aware that changes may affect design decisions and should therefore be taken into account.


  • Content has been restructured and headings updated.
  • New points added to the Key points box.
  • Additional information regarding sustainable sourcing, including detail of UKTR post-Brexit added.
  • Information on modified wood expanded.
  • Adjustments made to timber type/colour detail including additional detail on sapwood/heartwood.
  • Typical average density, moisture movement, natural durability and treatability sections expanded with greater detail.
  • References section updated.


Table of timber species, their properties and uses

All species data has been checked and cross-checked against several sources. Adjustments have been made to ensure species are ordered alphabetically, with small editorial changes to correct typos or to standardise descriptive terms. In addition, changes were made in categories listed for the following 102 species:


Angelim: Density, Moisture movement; Angelim, red: Moisture movement; Ash, American: Density, Remarks; Aspen (American, Canadian): Density, Treatability; Birch, American: Density, Treatability; Birch, European: Density; Cedar of Lebanon: Density; Cedar, Central/S American: Treatability, Availability; Cedar, Western red: British and Imported rows combined, Density; Cherry, American: Density; Cherry, European: Natural durability; Chestnut, horse: Density; Courbaril/jatoba: Density, Moisture movement, Natural durability, Treatability; Cumaru: Moisture movement, Availability; Dahoma: Density; Danta: Natural durability; Denya/okan: Okan added to name, Density, Moisture movement, Natural durability; Ebony: Density, Availability; Ekki/azobé: Density; Elm, European: Density; Elm, white: Density; Eucalyptus grandis/flooded gum/rose gum: Renamed from Red grandis, Treatability, Remarks; Fir, Douglas: Density (UK), Natural durability (N Am), Remarks; Gaboon: Density, Uses; Garapa: Density; Geronggang: Density; Gombe: Density, Moisture movement, Natural durability; Guarea/Bossé clair: Bossé clair added to name, Texture; Guariba: Density, Moisture movement; Idigbo: Density; Imbiua: Moisture movement; Ipé: Species names updated; Iroko: Texture; Itauba: Density, Moisture movement; Jelutong: Density, Natural durability; Karri: Density; Keruing/apitong/gurjun/yang: Texture; Koto: Moisture movement, Working qualities; Larch, European: Density; Larch, Siberian: Density, Moisture movement; Lignum vitae: Species and origin added, Density, Availability; Limba/afara/fraké: Fraké added to name, Density, Remarks; Lime, European: Density; Louro: Density, Treatability; Louro, red: Density, Moisture movement; Mahogany, African: Density; Mahogany, American/Mahogany, Honduran: Mahogany, Honduran added to name, Density; Makoré: Density; Mandioquera: Name expanded from Mandio, Density, Treatability; Maple, rock: Density; Massaranduba: Moisture movement, Natural durability; Mengkulang: Density, Moisture movement; Meranti, light red/light red seraya/white lauan: Density; Meranti, yellow/yellow seraya: Density, Uses; Merbau: Density; Moabi: Moisture movement; Mora: Density, Natural durability; Movingui/ayan: Density; Niangon: Species names updated, Density; Nyatoh: Additional species added, Natural durability; Oak, American red: Density, Working qualities, Natural durability, Treatability, Remarks; Oak, European: Natural durability; Oak, Japanese: Working qualities, Availability; Oak, Tasmanian: Density; Opepe: Additional species added, Density; Padauk, African: African added to name, Density, Working qualities, Availability; Pau amarelo: Density; Pine, Caribbean pitch: Density; Pine, Corsican: Density, Working qualities; Pine, Elliotis: Density, Treatability; Pine, lodgepole: Density, Treatability; Pine, maritime: Density; Pine, patula: Density, Natural durability; Pine, ponderosa: Durability; Pine, radiata: Remarks; Pine, Scots: Remarks; Pine, Southern: Timber type/colour, Remarks; Pine, yellow: Timber type/colour, Density; Piquia: Density, Moisture movement; Poplar: Density, Moisture movement, Uses; Purpleheart: Density; Ramin: Availability; Redwood, European: Origin removed, Remarks; Robinia: Timber type/colour, Density, Moisture movement; Rosewood: Availability; Rubberwood/hevea – plantation grown: plantation grown added to name, Density, Remarks; Sapele: Density; Simarouba: Texture, Moisture movement; Spruce, Sitka: Density; Sucupira: Density, Texture, Moisture movement; Tatajuba: Density, Moisture movement, Treatability; Teak: Density, Natural durability, Remarks; Tulipwood/poplar, American yellow: Density, Remarks; Utile: Density; Virola, light: Density, Moisture movement; Walnut, African: Density; Walnut, American: Density, Moisture movement; Walnut, European: Moisture movement; Wengé/panga panga: Density, Moisture movement; Whitewood, European: Origin added; Willow: Addition of cricket bat willow to Density and Uses; Yew: Moisture movement.

Suggested Reading

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...

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Making the grade - A guide to appearance grading UK grown hardwood timbernavigation-arrow

This guide details appearance grades applicable to hardwood planks and boards from trees grown in the UK. It broadly follows the grading criteria set out in EN 975 - 1 but with modifications to take account of the timber availability, species, characteristics and production methods found in the UK.

01/01/2005 |  Info from other organisation  

Moisture in timbernavigation-arrow

One of the most important factors affecting the performance and properties of wood is its moisture content. The amount of water present in wood can affect its weight, strength, workability, susceptibility to biological attack and dimensional stability in a particular end use.

We estimate that over 80% of...

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