CREDIT: “The Wood Database”


Common Name(s): Balau

Scientific Name: Shorea spp.

Distribution: Southeast Asia

Tree Size: 150-200 ft (45-60 m) tall, 3-6 ft (1-2 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 53 lbs/ft3 (850 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .69, .85

Janka Hardness: 1,600 lbf (7,120 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 17,730 lbf/in2 (122.3 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 2,457,000 lbf/in2 (16.95 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 10,280 lbf/in2 (70.9 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 5.5%, Tangential: 10.1%, Volumetric: 15.7%, T/R Ratio: 1.8

Color/Appearance: Color can be highly variable depending upon the species: ranging from a pale straw color, to a darker reddish brown.

Grain/Texture: Has a coarse texture with medium to large pores. Grain is sometimes interlocked.

Rot Resistance: Highly variable among species.

Workability: Typically hard to work, due to its high density. Some species may have a slight blunting effect on tools due to small levels of silica present in the wood. Glues, stains, and finishes well.

Odor: No characteristic odor.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Balau in the Shorea genus has been reported to cause eye, throat, and skin irritation. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Balau is widely harvested and widely available worldwide. It should be moderately priced despite the fact that it is imported.

Sustainability: Balau is not listed in the CITES Appendices.

Common Uses: Plywood,veneer, general construction, flooring, as well as a number of other general utility purposes.

Comments: Sometimes referred to as “Lauan,” wood in the Shorea genus is very commonly used in southeast Asia.

The five main groupings for Meranti (Lauan) are: Light Red Meranti, Dark Red Meranti, White Meranti, Yellow Meranti, and Balau. The strength and mechanical values listed at the top of this page represent the average of a handful of species within the corresponding group.

Also called Philippine Mahogany, Meranti bears no relation to  what is considered to be “true” mahogany in the Swietenia and Khaya genera.