You may be surprised by the number of products that are made from parawood. From furniture to flooring and so much more, parawood has become quite popular in recent years for a variety of reasons. But what is parawood and why is it in so much demand today?
Sometimes called rubberwood, parawood is wood that comes from a rubber tree. The primary product that is harvested from the tree is the milky substance that is used to create natural rubber or latex. Once the tree becomes about 30 years old, it stops producing the substance and that is when it is harvested for the wood. Once harvested, new rubber trees are planted, and the process begins again.
You can find rubber trees in abundance in Brazil, but they are also found in other tropical regions around the world such as Asia. In addition to rubberwood, parawood is known by other names such as the following:
- Malaysian Oak
- Plantation Hardwood
- White Teak
The trees can grow quite tall, up to 75 feet in some cases and three feet in diameter. Because the tree is fully grown by the time it stops producing latex, it can produce a considerable amount of lumber. The grain of the wood produced is similar to mahogany which is fairly open. This means that it does not shrink as much as many other wood materials which makes it well-suited for furniture.
It has a pale-yellow color that many furniture makers find quite favorable because it is easy to customize the color to match preferences for different types of products.
Understanding what is parawood used for starts with the furniture industry. They are the ones that will use parawood to construct many different items such as the following:
- Drawers & Cabinets
- Floors & Wood Carvings
- Veneer & Plywood
- Interior Milkwork & More
Naturally, parawood comes in different grades of material which can be used for a wide number of products that go beyond furniture. This means that you’ll find parawood in toys, kitchen tools, and even children’s furniture as some of its many uses.
There are numerous benefits to using parawood, starting with its versatile qualities that make it useful for so many different types of items. While it does need to be chemically treated, parawood does demonstrate a versatility that is admirable.
One big reason parawood is popular is its flexible nature that allows it to absorb shocks which makes it ideal for the floors of gymnasiums along with senior homes where the impact on the knees and feet are reduced compared to other types of hardwood flooring.
Parawood is easy to clean and maintain. You can simply brush off the dust, dirt, and debris just like a regular hardwood floor. If you want to mop the surface, soap and water once a year should do it for typical parawood floors. You will need to dry the floor using a fan or blower so that fungus does not find a home.
You can also wax the floor which works well, although you will need to strip off the wax from time to time so that you can remove the dirt that has been collecting.
While hot water can damage a parawood floor, the rubber that remains inside the wood is resistant to dry sources of heat such as from a dropped cigarette butt. But more importantly, parawood does not contain any toxic materials, so if it does catch on fire, the smoke that is generated does not contain any properties that might cause long-term damage.
One downside is that using the natural color itself can dull and might need polishing from time to time. However, it is the highly perishable nature of the wood itself which means that it can decay and rot easier than most other types of wood. In addition, the high amount of starch attracts insects along with being easier to stain from fungal sources.
This means that you should not keep parawood furniture outdoors as the changes in temperature and humidity will warp the wood considerably, even if it is protected. Exposure to moisture can be devastating, so be careful when transporting and placing items that are made from parawood sources.
The good news is that many of the disadvantages can be minimized using chemical treatments which can extend the life of the parawood by up to 20 years. While continued maintenance is needed, the chemical treatment is usually enough to keep it solid.
Hot water and alcohol can damage the finish of the flooring unless quickly wiped away. So, it’s important that you address any spill, even cold water, quickly before it can soak in and do damage.
Parawood does not react well to hot or dry rooms which cause the finish and even the surface to become stained or discolored. This also applies to any hot item you might place on the floor, such as pots, pans, or other heated materials. Contact with heated objects will cause rings to form on the flooring which fortunately can be wiped away. You will need to keep some humidity in the room so that the floor maintains its proper appearance.
This may be counterintuitive when it comes to understanding what is parawood, but it can be expensive compared to other types of wood. This is arguably due to the long growing process which takes an average of 30 years before the tree is ready to be harvested. Compare that to many other trees which can be cut down in far less time and the cost is noticeably more.
Of course, parawood continues to be a popular material that is used for different products found in homes, offices, and facilities around the world. If you are considering new flooring for your home, the more you understand about what is parawood, the better the decision you can make about whether this material is right for your needs.