Balau Wood (Shorea spp.) Uses, Properties, Pros, and Cons

Balau wood is dense and hard, and it has a lot of tropical oils and resins. It comes from Asia, and because it is strong, it is used a lot in the building industry.

This wood comes from the Dipterocarpaceae family of tropical hardwoods, used to make boats because it is strong and resistant. It was highly sought after for being hard and good at resisting water.

Balau is a better wood than teak in terms of how it works, but not as many people have heard of it. Balau is much heavier and tougher than teak. In short, it is a great wood for making garden furniture that, with proper care, will last a lifetime.

All types of Balau wood are very similar. The heartwood is yellow-brown, reddish-brown, or sometimes purple-brown, and it gets darker as it ages.

The sapwood stands out from the heartwood because it is lighter in color. The grain is even and wavy, and the texture is fine and medium.

It doesn’t shrink much, is very strong, and is good at keeping water out. It is easy to work with because it doesn’t have much silica. Balau is widely grown and can be found all over the world.

Balau is sold under other names

People call the wood of these trees by names like lauan, luan, lawaan, meranti, seraya, balau, bangkirai, and Philippine mahogany.


Balau is one of the most exotic hardwood decking options, and it can change your property’s look and market value. So, Balau decking is a very popular choice in the decking business:

When building a new wooden deck or fixing up an old one, it’s important to consider how it looks and how well it works.


Even though it’s from another country, it shouldn’t be too expensive. How much of the goods you purchase will determine their pricing.

So, if you need a lot of wood for a big project, it’s best to ask the supplier for a quote. You can get the right price from them.


Balau wood needs the same kind of care that teak does. Because this wood is naturally oily, it often needs to be oiled if it is not finished.

Balau that has been sealed doesn’t need to be oiled yearly because the sealant keeps the wood’s natural oils in.

However, you should oil the surface to protect it until you seal it again if you sand off an old coat of sealant and don’t seal it straight away.

The process of treating Balau wood can be very long. It is hard to dry wholly and evenly, which makes it more likely to crack or warp while being treated.


Balau is not on the CITES Appendices, but many species in the genus Shorea are on the IUCN Red List.

Most Shorea species are critically endangered because their populations have dropped by more than 80% in the last three generations. This is because their natural range has shrunk and been used up.

Is Balau hard or softwood          

Balau is a hardwood that is usually used both indoors and outdoors.

Balau is a hardwood from Indonesia that lasts a long time. It is a hard, heavy, and strong wood with a smooth texture that works well for building decks.

Balau wood stain            

Balau decking is very porous, so stains will soak into the wood if they are not cleaned up immediately.

You must be cautious about spills and wipe them up quickly to prevent stains if you want to use your deck as a place to eat outdoors.

Balau wood can be painted, stained, and polished but can’t be bent with steam.

Wood identification

Depending on how it is treated, Balau wood is also often called Red Balau or Yellow Balau. Countries in South-East Asia like the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia are where they are from.

Make sure that drill or nail holes are pre-bored before you start working, or even better, don’t nail or drill at all and use bolts instead.

Color and appearance

The color can be anything from a light straw color to a darker reddish brown, depending on the species.

Balau has yellow to brown heartwood and sapwood that can be up to 50 mm wide and lighter in color.

Its texture is not too fine and not too rough. The grain is interlocked, which makes the radial surface look like stripes. There may also be spots of resin. Pinhole borer damage can happen to Balau wood.

Balau Tree

A big tree that can grow up to 75 m tall and has a large, fairly regular, cone-shaped crown with few leaves.

Straight trunk up to 150 cm in diameter, often with small, concave, and rather thin buttresses; clear bole straight, tapering slowly and evenly.

Balau wood bark

The bark is almost black and has deep, close cracks. The ridges are becoming scaly. The outer bark is hard and dark brown. The inner bark is brownish-yellow.

Pros  and cons of Balau Wood

We want to provide some information about the benefits and drawbacks of balau wood in this blog.

After you decide what kind of wood you want, be sure it’s constructed of high-quality wood to prevent warping or splintering.

You should read this blog post if you are considering using balau wood. The benefits and drawbacks of using balau wood are listed.

Rot resistance

Very different between species; it should not be considered durable because it doesn’t resist decay and is easy for insects to eat.

Strength and Durability 

Balau varies between species, but Yellow Balau is generally considered durable and resistant to decay. Balau is also a hardwood that is used for decking outside.

All of the species mentioned have hard, heavy, and strong woods that are similar to greenheart in terms of how strong they are.

The heartwood of this wood is naturally strong, but fungi can easily grow in the sapwood.

Allergies and toxicity

Even though severe reactions are rare, Balau from the genus Shorea has been said to irritate the eyes, throat, and skin.


Because it is so dense, it is usually hard to work with. Due to the small amounts of silica in the wood, some species may slightly affect the edge of tools. It works well as glue, stain, and finish.

Even though Balau is a dense hardwood, it is not too hard to work with. The main problem is that there are resin pockets, meaning that resin can build up on cutting tools. To nail balau, you should first drill holes in the wood. Any cutting or smoothing of the surface should be done right before gluing. Balau isn’t a good wood for steam bending.

Balau wood uses

Balau has been used a lot in heavy construction, ship and boat building, and marine construction.

Railway sleepers, plywood, joinery, making cabinets, mallets, fender supports, door and window frames, and a staircase.

Posts and cross arms for telegraph and power transmission, posts, joists, rafters, flooring, decking, and heavy furniture.

Balau wood for furniture

When wood waste is used to make by-products or biomass pellets to make up for the carbon emissions made during harvesting and processing, making furniture out of Balau wood can have a relatively low carbon footprint.

Balau wood for construction

Wood is the material of choice when designing and constructing landscapes, retaining walls, and other outdoor structures.

It is a strong, reliable, and long-lasting material with a natural look that helps it blend in with the outdoors.

Timber poles not only hold things up but also look good and are often used in building designs that try to blend with the natural environment.

Balau wood for decking

Balau decking is chosen because of its deep color and few knots. This wood can withstand a lot of abuse, so your deck will be able to use for many years.

Once your decking has been exposed to the weather, children, pets, shoes, and furniture, you can expect some damage. But with the easy 3-step method, some scratches and scuffs can be fixed quickly;

Balau is a type of hardwood decking board that is very popular. It is long-lasting, has a beautiful modern look, and is priced competitively.

Related species

In southeast Asia, wood from the Shorea genus is used a lot. Meranti is not related to the Swietenia and Khaya genera, which are thought to be “real” mahogany. The average strength and mechanical values at the top of this page are based on a few species.

Dark Red Meranti (Shorea acunimata)

Shorea pauciflora is King. is the main species that give Sabah its dark red meranti, also known as oba suluk.

Wood grows to about 45 meters and a diameter of 1.2 meters or a little more, with long, clean, cylindrical boles growing above small buttresses.

When dried, the wood weighs, on average, 710 kg/m3.

Light Red Meranti (Shorea leprosula)

Up until about its 20th year, Shorea leprosula is one of the Dipterocarp species that grows the fastest. It comes from Thailand, Borneo, Peninsular Malaysia, Java, and Sumatra.

Light control is one of the most important parts of planting Shorea lepro’sula.

White Meranti (Shorea bracteolata)

There are about 194 species of Shorea, and 163 of them live in Malesia. The Lesser Sunda Islands don’t have this genus, but fossil wood has been found in Timor. All over the range of the genus, the white meranti group species can be found.

Shorea bracteolata is most often found on well-drained lowland coastal hills that are up to 600 m high. A lot of white meranti wood comes from this tree, especially in Peninsular Malaysia.