Iroko is a tropical African hardwood that is known for its excellent durability characteristics. Iroko wood is resistant to insect attack and decay and is often used for exterior applications such as flooring and boatbuilding.
If you’re looking to know all about Iroko hardwood, including properties, uses, pros and cons, and the best place to buy Iroko wood, you’re at the right place.
What is Iroko Wood?
Iroko is a type of hardwood that is sourced from a tree of the same name. Iroko trees are commonly found in Tropical Africa and are about 100-130 ft (30-40 m) tall with a 3-5 ft (1-1.5 m) trunk diameter. These trees can sometimes last up to 500 years.
It is a yellow-brownish hardwood that is prized for its strength, durability and easy workability. It is often used as a less expensive alternative to teak for timber, flooring, plywood, veneer, furniture, boatbuilding, and many other applications.
Iroko Wood Properties & Specifications
It has an average dried weight of 41 lbs/ft3 (660 kg/m3) and a 1,260 lbf (5,610 N) Janka rating, which makes it a hard and strong wood.
- Modulus of Rupture: 12,700 lbf/in2 (87.6 MPa)
- Elastic Modulus: 1,360,000 lbf/in2 (9.38 GPa)
- Crushing Strength: 7,840 lbf/in2 (54.0 MPa)
- Shrinkage: Radial: 2.8%, Tangential: 3.8%, Volumetric: 8.8%, T/R Ratio: 1.4
Colour & Texture: The heartwood is generally yellow to medium brown and becomes darker with age. The freshly sawn iroko wood has a golden-yellow hue. The sapwood is pale yellow. The wood has an even, medium to coarse texture and an interlocked grain.
Durability: In terms of resistance to insect attack and decay, Iroko is considered very durable and is often used in place of teak due to its high durability.
Though it can withstand exposure to sun and weather conditions, it will surely lose its colour and become darker when left outside for a long time. The discolouring of iroko timber can be prevented with the use of a suitable preservative.
Workability: It is generally easy to work with, however, surfacing can sometimes result in tearout due to the interlocked grain. It glues, nails and finishes well.
Availability & Price: Iroko timber is moderately priced for imported hardwood. It is much more easily available when compared to other popular species such as teak. Iroko veneer is also competitively priced.
How is Iroko different from Teak?
Iroko and Teak share many similarities, including their appearance.
Both are African hardwoods. Both have a medium golden-brownish hue and become darker with age. Both woods are durable, but teak is much more durable and dense than iroko and many other options. Both teak and iroko timber are naturally resistant to decay and insect attack and require no treatment prior to use.
Because of these similarities, iroko, in many cases, is used as an alternative to teak, especially because it costs much less compared to teak. Because it is easily and widely available, it is inexpensively priced even for imported wood.
Pros & Cons of Iroko Wood (Should you buy it?)
Iroko is strong, dense and very durable, which make it a fan-favourite for woodworkers, carpenters, and even boatbuilders around the world.
Advantages of Iroko
- Iroko is considered very durable in terms of resistance to rot. It does not decay easily.
- It is also resistant to insect attack.
- Iroko is a dense wood that is suitable for many projects.
- It’s cheaper than the similar teak timber.
- Iroko is easy to work with. It glues and finishes easily.
Disadvantages of Iroko
- Iroko wood can sometimes cause allergies of skin and eyes, though several reactions are uncommon.
- The wood can be responsible for respiratory irritation.
- It is on the IUCN Red List as a vulnerable timber species.
Uses of Iroko Hardwood
It is commonly used for veneer, furniture, boatbuilding, flooring, cabinetry, turned items, and specialty wood items.
Iroko is widely used for making veneer because of its attractive appearance and good durability. Many veneer options are available in iroko wood.
Because Iroko looks somewhat like Teak and also shares similar properties, it is often used as a Teak-alternative. As you may be aware, teak is a durable wood with high price and high demand, it is not as easily available, which is why woodworkers often turn to Iroko and similar alternatives for their projects. It is so similar to teak that it is often referred to as African Teak in some parts of the world. The outstanding strength and durability properties of iroko make it suitable for nearly all kinds of applications and a variety of projects.
Iroko is used for all kinds of purposes, from furniture making and flooring to decking, cladding, cabinet making and fencing. It is suitable not just for interior construction but also for exterior projects, including flooring, decking and marine applications such as boatbuilding.
You might see Iroko wood in many things around you, some of which you may never have expected. It is available in many colour options and hues at different ages.
Due to its attractive golden-brown hues, iroko is often used for specialty items, decor and small objects.
Because it is naturally resistant to moisture, it is extensively used for boatbuilding.
Some of the rather unusual applications of iroko lumber include specialty items, small pieces of furniture, construction, decor items such as pens, flower pots, etc., and packing boxes. Iroko is the wood commonly used for making vehicle interiors such as dashboard and steering.
Does Iroko Need to Be Treated Before Use?
No. It’s not necessary to treat iroko wood before use because the wood is naturally resistant to moisture and insect attacks and can be used as it is for a wide range of applications. Even when being used outdoors, iroko can work well without needing any treatment. However, it will start losing its natural colour after around 12 months or so and turn to a darker greyish hue. This might do good to some applications. But, if you want to preserve the natural colour of iroko for a very long time, you can consider using a good quality preservative on the wood.
Treated iroko might not be as easily available because of limited demand, but you can easily find someone to apply a good treatment on your wood or do it yourself to make it more resistant to weather elements and prevent losing its colour when used outside. A clear oil finish will also do the job in most cases.
Where to Buy Iroko Wood?
If you are looking for the best place to buy top-quality, sustainably-sourced Iroko timber at a low price for your next project, you’ve found it!
White Knight Consulting Ltd., is proud to be a highly trusted timber wood manufacturer, seller & exporter as it deals in high-quality, sustainable sawn timber and logs, including iroko, which will be delivered to your doorstep anywhere in and around the UK.
Whether you’re looking to buy timber for your own project in furniture making, flooring, decking, fencing, or anything else or planning to resale, our expert team would be pleased to help you find the right wood product for your particular needs.
You can check out our website and explore our wide range of timber or contact us now to get a quote.