Mahogany and meranti are two popular hardwood species. Like any other hardwood, both mahogany and meranti have their distinct properties and pros and cons.
If you’re wondering why we need to compare these two hardwoods (Meranti vs Mahogany), this is because Meranti wood shares many similarities with genuine mahogany and is occasionally used as its substitute.
By learning about the various similarities and differences between Meranti and mahogany hardwoods, you’ll be better able to identify the correct wood for your next project.
Let’s get started.
What is Meranti Wood?
Meranti has been traditionally used as a durable and water-resistant wood for building boats. However, the close variant of Meranti, which was actually used for building the famous Chris Craft boats, was called Philippine Mahogany and is no longer commercially available due to sustainability concerns.
Meranti is one of the most popular variants of Philippine Mahogany available today. Also sold by the names of Nemesu and Red Seraya, this is a durable hardwood that is considered suitable for marine applications such as boatbuilding and is also used for making marine-grade plywood.
Meranti has a purplish-brown or dark reddish-brown heartwood with resinous streaks. The grain is straight or sometimes interlocked and the texture is coarse. The wood is native to Southeast Asia.
Meranti is considered the gold standard for exterior projects, particularly boatbuilding. It is also suitable for building houses, cladding, flooring, and outdoor furniture. It is a more affordable option than premium hardwoods like mahogany and is very durable in terms of weather resistance. It is also fairly easy to work with tools.
The five popular types of Meranti wood include Light Red Meranti, Dark Red Meranti, White Meranti, Yellow Meranti, and Balau.
What is Mahogany Wood?
Mahogany is considered a premium hardwood in terms of its high price. It is a very attractive, durable, and strong wood. Mahogany is an extremely versatile wood used for making a range of products, from high-quality furniture to premium interior and durable objects for outdoor use. It is also a popular choice for musical instruments.
Mahogany is found in many regions around the world but most commonly in the tropical forests of the Caribbean and South America. It is very durable in terms of resistance to water (decay) and can be used in outdoor projects without needing any treatment. It is also resistant to termites but vulnerable to other insects. Mahogany is fairly easy to work with.
The heartwood of mahogany colour ranges from pinkish brown to a darker reddish brown. It has a straight but sometimes interlocked or wavy grain. The texture is medium and uniform.
The three major types of mahogany are Honduras mahogany, bigleaf mahogany, and American mahogany.
Is Meranti Similar to Mahogany?
Meranti is similar to mahogany in many ways. It shares a similar density and grain structure as mahogany. The density is medium of both woods, which makes them easy to work with and mile. Both Meranti and mahogany are much lighter than their African counterparts like Sapele and African mahogany sharing similar properties.
Both wood species also look very similar with a brownish-red colour. Both are often used interchangeably in many applications. Meranti is sometimes used as a cheaper alternative to genuine mahogany.
Meranti Vs Mahogany
Though Meranti wood shares many similarities with genuine mahogany, there are some differences as well. Here you go.
|Average Dried Weight (kg/m3)
|Janka Hardness (N)
|Modulus of Rupture (MPa)
|Elastic Modulus (GPa)
|Crushing Strength (MPa)
|Radial: 3.4 Tangential: 6.1 Volumetric: 9.5
|Radial: 5.4 Tangential: 7.4 Volumetric: 12.9
Colour: Both Meranti and mahogany look almost similar and have pinkish-brown or reddish heartwood. Meranti is usually darker than mahogany. The optical phenomenon of chatoyancy is present only in mahogany. The texture in Mernati is coarse, while mahogany has a medium, uniform texture. Mahogany wood becomes darker with age.
Grain & Texture: Meranti has low natural lustre while mahogany has good natural lustre.
Origin & Trees
Meranti is native to Southeast Asia and its trees are about 65-130 ft (20-40 m) tall and have a 3-6 ft (1-2 m) trunk diameter.
Mahogany is commonly found in tropical South America. It has trees that are about 150-200 ft (46-60 m) tall with a 3-6 ft (1-2 m) trunk diameter.
Both hardwoods are nearly the same in terms of hardness. Meranti is slightly less hard with an 800 lbs Janka rating compared to Mahogany’s 900 lbs hardness rating. Mahogany is also a more stable wood.
Meranti is denser compared to mahogany. The average dried weight of Meranti is 42 lbs/ft3 compared to Mahogany’s 36 lbs/ft3 density rating.
Both mahogany and meranti are durable woods. Mahogany is, however, more durable than Meranti and has excellent weathering properties. It can be used for any kind of exterior project. Meranti, on the other hand, might need treatment when used outside. Also, Meranti is not resistant to termites, unlike mahogany.
Workability, Availability & Price
Workability: Though both Meranti and mahogany are easy to work with, interlocked grain in Meranti can make it difficult to plane. It is also denser and heavier than mahogany, which can cause handling problems. While mahogany is easy to turn, some species of Meranti have poor steam-bending properties.
Meranti wood holds nails and screws well. Its high silica content can cause blunting of cutters. The interlocked grain in mahogany can sometimes result in tearout during machining operations.
Availability & Price: Due to very high demand and export restrictions, genuine mahogany can be very expensive to buy. It is also not easily available. Most of the mahogany wood available today in the market comes from plantations and is not as beautiful and durable as older wood from wild-grown trees.
Meranti, on the other hand, is easily and widely available. It is moderately priced and is one of the most common hardwoods for commercial use.
Both Meranti and mahogany are durable woods and are used for both interior and exterior applications.
Dark Meranti is decay resistant and is particularly preferred for making water-resistant boats and plywood (marine-grade). It is also used in interior applications for making furniture, veneer, and general construction. Because this wood is easy to glue and finish, it is favoured for veneering. It also holds nails and screws really well, which makes it a good choice for plywood.
Meranti is also used in general construction where good density and weight are required. It is easy to trim and is regularly used for moulding.
Mahogany is often reserved for premium projects due to its high cost. Possible uses include furniture, plywood, boatbuilding, flooring, cabinetry, carving, turned objects, veneer, and musical instruments.
Mahogany flooring is attractive, smooth and durable. As a stable and durable wood that doesn’t shrink a lot, mahogany is an excellent choice for premium flooring. It requires low maintenance. Mahogany is also favoured for making boats and ship parts because of its outstanding decay resistance and stability. Other than that, it is a preferred choice for musical instruments such as guitars. Because the wood turns well, it is also used for turned objects.
Where to Buy High-Quality Meranti and Mahogany Timber?
Because meranti and mahogany wood look very similar, differentiating between them can be difficult for untrained eyes. Many wood merchants sell Meranti with the name of Philippines Mahogany, but it is not genuine mahogany and has no relation to it.
Always buy your wood from a reputable and trusted supplier like White Knight Consulting Ltd. UK. We are a leading manufacturer & supplier of hardwoods, timber and plywood and export our products to more than 20 countries. If you are looking to buy high-quality mahogany or Meranti wood at the best price online, contact us today.