Which Type of Wood is Best for the Home?
Tanguile, Narra, or Mahogany? Each type of wood has its pros and cons.
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.
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.
Tips for Using Wood in Projects
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:
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.
“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.
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.
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.
For your guidance, timber or forest products pertain to all types of timber (150 mm in diameter and 1,500 mm 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.
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.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wood in Home Design
Why is kiln-dried wood recommended for home projects?
Kiln-dried wood is recommended because it has been treated to remove moisture. Because of this, you can rest assured that warping and movement after installation is minimized. Aside from that, moisture removal ensures greater stability and longevity for wood used in home construction and design.
How does the type of wood affect the design and functionality of a home?
Different types of wood have varying characteristics, such as color, grain, hardness, and resistance to decay. These factors influence both the aesthetic and practical aspects of home design, from the visual appeal to the wood's suitability for different functions and climates.
What should I consider when sourcing legal wood?
Ensure that the wood comes with government-issued certification or licenses that confirm its legality. This helps protect forests and ensures you're not contributing to illegal logging practices.
Can I use any type of wood for any part of my home?
No, different types of wood are suitable for different applications. Factors such as durability, moisture resistance, and hardness determine where a type of wood can be best utilized, whether for flooring, furniture, or exterior use.
How do I ensure that my wood furnishings and structures last a long time?
Proper treatment and protective coatings are essential for longevity. Use reputable brands known for wood protection, and follow a maintenance schedule to keep the wood in good condition. Also practice patience hwen preparing the wooden materials as some steps, such as drying, may take some time to complete.
Is it more expensive to use eco-friendly materials like wood in home design?
The cost can vary widely depending on the type of wood and whether it's new or salvaged. While some eco-friendly options may be more expensive initially, they can offer better sustainability and may even result in long-term savings.
What kind of wood is recommended for areas with high humidity?
Woods with natural resistance to moisture, such as teak or cedar, are recommended for humid areas to prevent warping and decay.
Why might some wood types be reinstalled multiple times during a project?
Improper treatment or selection of wood not suited for the specific application can lead to issues that necessitate reinstallation. Proper initial selection and treatment can prevent these costly and time-consuming issues.
This article has appeared in one of the issues of Real Living Magazine. With reports from Nica Jose.
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