What is Meranti Wood?

What is Meranti?

Meranti is an affordable hardwood that is as versatile as it is beautiful. While often called 'Philippine mahogany,' or 'Lauan', Meranti is actually a distinct group of species with its own unique characteristics and advantages.

Originating from the diverse forests of Southeast Asia, Meranti encompasses a range of species with similar characteristics, making it a go-to choice for both woodworkers and DIY enthusiasts alike.

While it may not boast the prestige of true mahogany, its affordability and workability have earned it well-deserved recognition in the lumber market.

What Is Meranti?

Meranti is the type of wood you should consider if you’re looking for an all-round sturdy, attractive and easily workable timber. But what is Meranti good for? First of all, we need to understand the origins of this often overlooked wood type, so you know exactly what you’re getting. 

Meranti timber comes from trees in Southeast Asia (Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia). Many people misunderstand that it is a collection of species, not just a single tree type, so the wood incorporates different characteristics. 

Meranti includes Light Red and Dark Red. The trees that produce this varied wood are impressively sized. When mature, some of the trees harvested can reach heights of up to 200 feet, with trunks extending to a colossal 90 feet.

Because of this substantial growth rate, its diverse subtypes and overall versatility make it ideal for a wide range of woodworking projects. Available in a broad variety of colouring and grain patterns, Meranti has both visual and practical appeal, which explains why we’re seeing an uptick in projects using it.

The Properties of Meranti 

What is Meranti suitable for? Timbers appearance, durability, and workability can drastically change the types of projects you might want to use it for, so it's important to have a clear picture of what Meranti has to offer…

Appearance

Meranti comes in a range of colours (light red to pinkish brown) and has a typically straight grain pattern. It has a medium-to-coarse texture but can be easily smoothed.

Durability & Strength

Meranti is moderately durable. While it’s not as hard or strong as genuine mahogany, it is sufficiently strong for many applications.

Workability

Meranti is easy to cut, rip, and plane, but make sure you’re doing it with a sharp blade to avoid rough edges. It can be prone to tear-out and splintering, so machine carefully if you’re looking for a bespoke finish.

Meranti is compatible with various woodworking glues, screws, and nails, although we would normally suggest pre-drilling for screws to avoid any risk of splitting.

Finishing

We recommend filling the open grain before applying stains or finishes for the best results. It takes stains and finishes well.

Common Uses of Meranti

When choosing your timber, you likely have a specific project in mind or at least have a general idea of what you want to use it for. Different wood types have different uses, taking into account their specific strengths and weaknesses. So what is Meranti most commonly used for?

Interior Applications: The most important thing to note about Meranti is that it is most commonly an interior wood. This is because it can’t stand up to prolonged outdoor exposure or the elements like some other types of timber, and can be susceptible to rot and warping if left untreated outdoors. But this is also Meranti’s strength, as it can take on almost any interior application.

Plywood and Veneer: Meranti plywood is a staple in the construction industry, commonly used for cabinets, wall panelling, and hollow-core doors. Its smooth surface and attractive grain patterns create a warm and inviting atmosphere in homes and offices. Meranti veneer, sliced thinly from wood, is also used to enhance the appearance of less expensive materials, providing a high-end look at a fraction of the cost.

Solid Wood: Meranti's workability makes it a favourite for crafting furniture, mouldings, interior trim, and even musical instruments! As we mentioned, this timber is easy to rip down, so even if you have larger projects in mind, Meranti won’t test your patience or your tools.

Doors and Windows: What is Meranti good for around the house? Meranti's stability and resistance to warping make it a great choice for doors, window frames and cills. Its natural reddish hue adds warmth and character.

Light Structural Framing: In certain applications, it can be used for non-load-bearing interior framing, such as room dividers, wardrobe partitions, and projects that don’t require the wood to bear heavy weights or tension. 

Meranti Wood: The Benefits

What is Meranti wood bringing to the table? These are the pros and cons of this versatile timber, so you can make an informed decision for your project…

Pros:

  • Affordability - get value for your money versus the more luxurious wood types
  • Versatility - Meranti is ideal for carpentry, light structural work, crafting and DIY.
  • Ease of working - Rip down, saw and sand this wood with minimal mess or fuss.
  • Sustainability - All of our Meranti is ethically sourced.
  • Attractive appearance - Available in reddish, pinkish or light brown colouring with a straight wood grain that’s easy to match up.

Cons:

  • Durability - Not as durable as genuine mahogany.
  • Splintering - Can be prone to tear-out and splintering.
  • Outdoor use - Meranti is suitable for outdoor use but not for prolonged periods unless treated.

A Valuable Resource For Any Woodworker To Have Handy

What is Meranti and why should you consider it for your furniture-making, cabinetry or project? 

Meranti is known for its affordability, versatility, ease of use, and suitability for many indoor projects. It may not stack up against genuine mahogany for structural strength or perform well outdoors, but it’s an ideal timber for interiors and furniture projects. 

Think Meranti could be the right wood for your job?

Get in touch with our knowledgeable and friendly team here at E O Burton to select the timber that delivers on both form and function.

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