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What are the recommended species for butcher block? Our joiner is reluctant to use Spotted Gum saying the grain isn't tight enough. I saw on the website Grey Gum is listed, is this the only option?

Woodsolutions Answer +

A CSIRO reference in our library advises that non-splintering hardwoods in the density range 640-960 kg/m3 are suitable for butcher's blocks. Spotted gum is listed along with tallowwood, jarrah and red gum. Grey gum is also suitable, although not listed by CSIRO. Depending on the size, you may need to source glue laminated timber. Alternatively large cross-section hardwoods can be sourced from recycling centres.

Butcher's block

We are in the process of deciding on which timber to use that is going to grey off nicely around our pool and last with some care. Which timber is better spotted gum or turpentine. We have been hearing it’s best to use the cutek clear yearly oil and after its laid. Can you advise us.

Woodsolutions Answer +

The two timbers will have much the same life span - both are rated Class 1 durability outdoors above ground. That implies a probable life expectancy of 40 years or more, assuming moderate wetting, and adequate ventilation and drainage, according to Australian Standard 5604, Timber - Natural durability ratings. Turpentine has the edge from an appearance point of view since it has no gum veins, which are more common in spotted gum.

Swimming pool decking

We’re working on a job for a beach house, which will have exterior timber cladding, batten screens and decking as well as some interior timber wall & ceiling linings, and interior timber flooring. We’ve received samples of a vertical cladding board ‘golden cypress’ (Macrocarpa) which our client really likes, and which meets the budget. We were hoping we could use it for everything except the flooring, for which we’d use cypress pine.
After talking to some other suppliers, we have some concerns about the durability of the ‘golden cypress.’
Is it suitable for use as an external cladding?
What’s the lifespan going to be like? Which rating figures should we refer to for our client to be able to compare species for the durability of a cladding?
Would cypress pine be better? We want a very pale blonde/silver appearance, will cypress pine go yellow?
Is it possible to get cypress battens to match the golden cypress cladding?
Is it possible to get cypress decking to match cypress flooring (not a perfect match, but a reasonable match.)

Woodsolutions Answer +

Cupressus macrocarpa (now designated Hesperocyparis macrocarpa) aka 'golden cypress' has a longer history of use in New Zealand where the better quality material is used for exterior cladding, sold under the name "macrocarpa". It's not included in Australian Standard 5604, Timber - Natural durability ratings, and therefore we don't have a Durability Class for it under the Australian system. An information sheet published by the NZ Forest Service in 1982 described the heartwood as "one of the most durable of all exotic species grown in New Zealand". However, they make the point that the pale-coloured sapwood, which can be distinguished from the yellowish-brown heartwood, is non-durable, as is the case for most species. In the past it was used for fence posts on New Zealand farms, so it would appear to have some in-ground durability. On the other hand, more recent advice from the NZ Wood website says "it is not recommended in-ground for construction purposes (including in-ground posts for fencing, decking and pergolas)". In summary, it seems it would be OK for cladding, but perhaps less durable than Queensland cypress pine which is suitable for use in-ground. Regarding your other questions, all timbers eventually turn a silvery grey colour where fully exposed to the weather and yes, cypress pine decking is available but will also change colour outdoors unless under cover. The same comment about sapwood applies to cypress pine - Timber Queensland recommends that "sapwood in cypress pine decking shall face downward and be below or as close as possible to any eaves or roof projection". 

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