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Building & Renovating

Which Type of Wood is Best for the Home?

Tanguile, Narra, or Mahogany? Each type of wood has its pros and cons.

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Photography: At Maculangan | Jilson Tiu

With the rise in popularity of sustainable homes, many homeowners are exploring the possibilities of building something similar or renovating their current houses into a haven showcasing wood and other eco-friendly materials. Wood has been a go-to material by many owners and professionals because it’s sturdy, beautiful, and can add a different kind of sophistication to a space. However, unlike other materials readily available in stores today, it’s not that easy to work with wood.

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To be able to pull off a polished and timeless finished project, you need to do your research, invest in treatment, and to be safe, consult with the experts. “It’s very important to note that wood is an organic material. It breathes or moves in sync with the climate. This is why people will sometimes notice that wooden doors tighten during certain months of the year,” share the professionals behind Emerging Architects Studio (EASt). The team is behind one of the impressive homes we’ve featured on the website, an old bungalow transformed into a two-storey home. To complete the said project, they worked with tanguile and had help from local woodworkers.

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If you’ve been planning to build a sustainable haven or you’re curious about how wood can be used at home, EASt has insights from how they used wood in past projects that can help you:

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Go for kiln dried wood.

“In procuring wood, it’s important to get kiln dried wood and ensure that it has low moisture content to minimize warping once installed.”

Each type of wood has its own advantages and disadvantages. EASt has used Tanguile, Narra, and Mahogany in previous projects.

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“These are the names commonly known by local woodworkers. It is also important to note that tanguile is also known as Philippine Mahogany so better make sure you’re getting the right one. Mahogany is the cheapest, while Narra is the most expensive of the three. We usually recommend Tanguile to our clients because it can be used for door frames, furniture, and stair treads. It also behaves better compared to Mahogany in terms of material ‘movement’ since it ‘moves’ less than Mahogany,” they explain.

If you have the budget, you can opt to use Narra as it can be used in creating furniture, door frames, and solid doors. It can also be used as flooring, wall panels, and even as ceiling panels. “The only downside to Narra is that it’s hard to find and it’s very expensive. You can also use teak wood for interiors, but this is also expensive and imported,” the architects add.

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Consider working with salvaged wood.

Don’t dismiss salvaged wood yet as it’s versatile enough to be used at home—as flooring, on the walls, and even as part of your décor. “As designers, we highly recommend using old, salvaged wood because it gives character and another layer of meaning to the project. Salvaged wood is usually drier and more compact. It’s also our way of lessening our environmental impact,” the team adds. In the renovation project they completed in Antipolo, they recycled wood from the old house as a way of preserving the memories tied to the space. It’s also a clever way of keeping within the budget.

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You can source for wood in Taytay, Rizal.

“Taytay, Rizal is probably the nearest source of wood if you’re coming from Manila. Salvaged wood can also be bought in Taytay. There are several warehouses and yards in Taytay where you can buy old Meralco wooden posts, old doors, windows, and similar items you can repurpose for your home.”

Be careful when sourcing and acquiring legal wood. 

According to the professionals behind EASt, the legality of a certain timber or forest product can be verified with a government-issued certification or license by the person (individual, corporation, or association) in possession of and selling the timber or forest product. “The said person must be able to present the legal documents showing his authority to cut, gather, collect, remove, transport, possess, and/or sell timber or forest product,” they explain.

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For your guidance, timber or forest products pertain to all types of timber (150mm in diameter and 1,500mm in length), pulpwood, firewood, and premium hardwood like Narra, Molave, Kamagong, Opil, and Acacia, to name a few, whether they’re found in public or private land. Keep in mind that there are certain products that do not require permits or licenses such as firewood, pulpwood or timber produced from Ipil-ipil.

READ: Where to Source Legal Wood in the Philippines?

Proper treatment is key to achieving a polished look that lasts.

In one of the projects we’ve featured, the staircase was reinstalled a couple of times because treatment of the wood wasn’t done properly. Treatment is key to keep it free from wood bugs. “Once wood is installed, proper protective top coating should be applied to ensure that it is well-protected from the elements. Good brands for this are Sadolin and Protego,” add the architects. Both brands are known and used for wood protection.

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Consult with a local carpenter or artisan.

To make sure you’re buying quality wood the right way, consult with a local woodworker, carpenter or craftsman. Ask him if he can accompany you during sourcing and purchasing, too. “In our opinion, nothing beats their insights and the years of experience they have on working with wood,” the team shares.

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Ready for your own home makeover? Get in touch with Emerging Architects Studio through email at architects[at]eastudio.ph. You can also visit their website or follow them on Facebook.

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