Parawood (Hevea brasiliensis) is a wood species that we also call plantation hardwood, para rubber tree, Malaysian oak, and white teak. It grows in Indonesia, India, and Central America.
Parawood, also commonly called rubberwood, is a versatile and good-looking type of wood. It closely resembles mahogany but is far more sustainable, as producing its lumber promotes new growth of parawood trees. It is an excellent option for making furniture, and it is comfortable to work with, but Parawood furniture is easy to maintain.
- Characteristics of Parawood
- Uses of Parawood
- Pros and Cons of Parawood Furniture
- How to Finish Parawood Furniture
- How to Maintain Parawood Furniture
Parawood is a tropical hardwood that is light-colored with a medium density. The wood comes from the Pará rubber tree, which secretes white sap called latex, the prime ingredient for making rubber. It usually grows on rubber plantations.
The trees grow up to 100 feet, and the trunks develop a diameter of a maximum of 3 feet. They start producing latex after five to six years, and it continues until the tree is 25 to 30 years old.
We harvest this wood after the tree no longer produces latex, once 25 to 30 years have elapsed. At this stage, we cut the tree down and replace it with a new one. Since the tree is harvested from a renewable source, we consider parawood to be environmentally-friendly.
The lumber of the rubber tree is excellent and plays a prominent role in making furniture. We treat the wood with chemicals before using it.
Characteristics of Parawood
Parawood is pale yellow in sharp contrast to the dark or light brown wood of most other trees. It is softer than many other hardwoods, with a Janka hardness rating of 960 lbf. It is an easy wood to work with, once adequately treated with chemicals.
Due to its high starch content, parawood attracts insects making it prone to decay. It is why you need to treat this wood with chemicals to prolong its life. With suitable treatment, parawood can last for over 20 years.
You need to keep parawood indoors, as it does not withstand rain, snow, or excessive sunlight very well. Further, rainwater may wash away the pesticides used to keep insects at bay.
Parawood resembles mahogany with a grainy, smooth texture, giving the wood durability that makes furniture makers favor it. This wood is suitable for a wide variety of furniture. With an appropriate finish and polish, parawood furniture can look amazing.
Uses of Parawood
Parawood is a highly versatile and durable type of wood. We use it for making kitchen cabinets, indoor furniture, and hardwood flooring. The shock-absorbing characteristics of parawood make it most suitable for gym flooring.
Furniture made of parawood will be durable and can withstand daily wear and tear exceptionally well. It makes ideal furniture for placing in kitchens, bedrooms, living rooms, and even in offices.
Parawood is not only high on durability, but it is extremely low on maintenance. It doesn’t cost much to take care of this wood. You will find it easy to cut and stain. This wood is also fairly stain-resistant, so you can keep the wood clean with a quick wipe.
However, this is not an outdoor wood. If you leave this wood outside, exposed to the elements, it will soon deteriorate. It warps and rots quickly in the open, so the best place for parawood furniture is indoors.
The strong point of parawood is the dense grain which gives a significant solidity to the wood. It goes through a carefully-controlled drying process in a kiln. Once dried, the wood becomes very strong yet easy to cut.
The tight grain and smooth surface make for excellent staining, making it possible for all types of furniture. We also make children’s toys and kitchenware from parawood. You can get different grades of parawood lumber for specific uses.
Other uses for parawood include making blockboard, veneer, plywood, millwork, wooden shuttle block, and wood carvings.
We also use it to make medium-density fiberboard (MDF).
In short, depending on the grade, you can use parawood to make practically anything, provided it is indoors.
Pros and Cons of Parawood Furniture
Like all types of wood, parawood too has few downsides in addition to its numerous benefits. Based on the information below, you will realize why so many woodworkers love to use this wood in their projects. Here are the pros and cons of parawood furniture:
Pros of Parawood furniture
Furniture made from parawood is exceptionally durable and sturdy. It has immense strength and, if maintained well, can last for several years.
Parawood furniture has a soft and smooth texture, making it comfortable to sit upon. For this reason, we make chairs, benches, and beds from this wood.
Parawood has a high resistance to fire. Furniture made of this wood doesn’t catch fire easily, and even if it does, it won’t emit toxic fumes.
The soft structure of parawood gives it excellent shock-absorbent properties. It makes it a favored choice for senior homes and gyms. We use it for regular flooring as well.
Low Maintenance Furniture
If treated with suitable chemicals, parawood furniture will last for more than 20 years. You need to do a bit of preventive maintenance like keeping it away from moisture, cleaning it now and again with a moist cloth, and reapplying finish every year or so.
If suitably stained or varnished, parawood looks spectacular. The smooth straight-grained wood looks great with any type of furniture. With an appropriate stain, parawood furniture resembles mahogany.
If you need some smart-looking furniture, but at a fraction of some high-end stuff, then parawood is a good choice. It looks classy, but you get it at a fraction of the cost of some of the more expensive hardwoods like cherry, walnut, mahogany, or teak.
Cons of Parawood Furniture
Due to its relatively soft exterior texture, parawood can become very slick if polished. Although it might look impressive on furniture, you shouldn’t wax parawood flooring to prevent people from slipping and falling.
Can Be Expensive
Parawood is rarely sold in lumber form in the United States. It is popularly imported from the source countries in the form of semi-assembled furniture. Depending on the grade of wood and type of furniture, it can become expensive compared to some of the cheaper and medium-priced hardwoods.
Prone to Rot
This wood has a high starch content, which attracts insects. If not treated with suitable insecticides, the wood can deteriorate due to insect attack. It also quickly develops fungus if exposed to moisture.
Parawood accepts stains very well. But this characteristic also enables the wood to discolor quickly if exposed to harsh detergents. Therefore, you need to protect the wood from spills, and while cleaning it, use gentle detergents, washing it well with water after cleaning it.
How to Finish Parawood Furniture
You may want to recondition old parawood furniture or finish it in a new project. Whatever the case, you will find parawood easy to finish or paint. Here are a few good tips on how to apply a finish to this wood for spectacular results:
For painting parawood furniture, you will need the following items:
- Oil-based primer
- acrylic latex primer
- Acrylic enamel
- Latex paint
- Painter’s tape
- Turpentine for cleaning your hands
- Cotton waste
- Mixing rod
- Cover all the parts not to be painted with painter’s tape.
- Open your can of primer and stir it gently gut thoroughly with the mixing rod.
- Apply an even layer of acrylic latex primer using a roller and allow it to dry for about two hours.
- Now, brush on the latex paint and allow another two hours or leave it overnight for the latex paint to dry.
- Once the latex paint is thoroughly dried, apply acrylic enamel as a final coating. It will take about two hours to dry.
- If satisfied once dry, you can start using the furniture. If not, you can add another final coat for an ultimate glossy finish.
Staining Parawood Furniture
Parawood gets discolored quickly, but this same property allows us to efficiently apply stain to finish the wood. Here are the steps for applying a stain to parawood furniture:
For staining parawood furniture, you will need the following items:
- 180 grit sandpaper
- Wood filler
- Wood stain
- Cloth applicator
- Waste cloths
- Turpentine for cleaning your hands
- Using 180-grit sandpaper, sand down the wood surface
- Apply wood filler to dents and holes and wait for the filler to dry.
- Once the wood filler is dry, you may want to sand down the surface to smoothen off isolated lumps of wood filler.
- Mix the stain as per the manufacturer’s instructions and apply it using an applicator (a small piece of rag folded into a hand-held square or rectangular shape).
- Pay particular attention to the uneven areas, creating a smooth, uniform surface.
- Finally, apply a top coat for a bright finish.
How to Maintain Parawood Furniture
Once you have your parawood furniture finished and ready to use, enjoy! But after some time has elapsed, maybe a few months or a year, don’t neglect to maintain your parawood furniture. It’s simple and easy to maintain using the following steps:
- Wash your parawood furniture with a mild soapy solution once a year. Ensure to wash off the soap and dry it properly.
- Apply furniture wax to your furniture every few weeks or once a month to keep it looking glossy.
- Avoid leaving your parawood furniture in places of extreme heat or areas of high moisture.
- Wipe up spills and stains immediately.
- Strip down your parawood furniture using a paint stripper every one to two years and reapply the finish.
Parawood makes excellent furniture, which you can make or procure from a furniture shop. As an interior wood, it’s a great choice. It looks great and lasts long. It is the first choice of numerous homemakers in the US and across the globe.
Now that you are more aware of this versatile and durable wood, you can know what to expect while dealing with it. Make parawood part of your next woodworking project, and look forward to some excellent results.