Chengal Wood Decking – Benefits & Alternatives
One of the most sought-after solid hardwood in Malaysia and other tropical countries, Chengal is a well-loved wood for the installation of outdoor decking.
A wood that has been used throughout the centuries by our ancestors for the building of traditional houses, used for columns, beams, roofs and installed on floors, Chengal wood is, today, still a popular wood choice in Malaysia and throughout the Asian region for its enduring quality.
When to Service Your Deck?
Prized for its sturdiness, durability and resistance against termites, Chengal wood is classified as heavy tropical hardwood by timber authorities and typically used outdoors where weather conditions require the use of hardier wood that does not rot easily when exposed to alternating wet and dry conditions with fluctuating temperatures.
But here’s a little ‘secret’. We say ‘secret’ because surprisingly, not many are aware of this very important fact – the benefits of Chengal wood mentioned above is true only of mature Chengal wood, as a number of house owners we met found out when they had the unfortunate experience of having their Chengal wood decking rot within 2 to 3 years of installation.
Durability of Chengal Wood
In Malaysia, where our weather alternates between wet and dry, the question of durability is natural. So how durable is Chengal wood when exposed to such outdoor conditions?
Processing methods & practices aside, the durability of Chengal wood is largely dependent on the maturity of the tree at the time it is logged. While it is true that mature Chengal wood has a very long lifespan under outdoor conditions, young Chengal wood do not offer the same benefit.
The most obvious reason is that young Chengal wood is much softer compared to its mature counterparts and is hence, less resistant to wear and tear. Plus, the high content of natural sugars in young Chengal wood contribute to bacteria growth, accelerating the rotting and decaying process of natural wood.
Chengal Wood Decking Alternatives
These days, mature Chengal wood, such as those from a 80-year old tree has become scarce, and prized at a premium. As such, other timber alternatives have gained popularity.
The 3 most common decking material alternatives to Chengal wood in Malaysia today are engineered wood, wood-plastic composite & cement-based composite. The features, benefits and performance of each type varies. As such, it may be beneficial to consider your needs when comparing each type.