A quick browse through different timbers demonstrates which hardwood is the most desirable of all conservatory timbers.
Seasoned European White Oak (Quercus Alba)
Seasoned oak, sometimes known as cured oak, is by far the most superior timber used in conservatory manufacture but, as with premium materials, is more costly and difficult to work with. Hence there are few suppliers in the UK that offer seasoned oak as an option for conservatory construction. It is undoubtedly the most beautiful option and just like oak kitchens and staircases will be a key selling point if you ever wish to sell your home.
Most oak comes from Europe or America. The best for our use is European white oak, which is not listed as at risk, is slower growing and has a tighter, denser grain weighing 700-720kg per cubic metre. The combination of the pronounced grain, silver medullary rays and toughness give it unrivalled appeal.
Please don’t confuse seasoned oak with ‘air dried’ oak, which is how many of the green oak suppliers are now describing their oak frames. Properly seasoned oak takes approx. 1 year to season each 25mm (1″ ) of board thickness and should be carefully stacked to allow air to flow around the whole board.
Richmond Oak has become the No 1 specialist supplier of seasoned oak conservatories in the UK. Our joineries have developed the necessary skills to work this very hard, durable timber and our installers are sensitive to the necessary attention to detail when working with oak. All the oak supplied by Richmond Oak is FSC Certified as coming from a sustainable source.
Iroko (Milicia excelsa)
Iroko is a good choice of hardwood, but is relatively expensive. It comes from various regions of Africa and has a reddish brown colour. It is extremely hard. Like oak, it will last for decades if not centuries. Iroko is full of natural resin so special care has to be taken in choosing stains. in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species its vulnerability is described as Lower Risk/near threatened
Meranti from Indonesia has been extensively imported into the UK and Europe to the extent that it is listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as Endangered. It is effecting the natural environment where it is being harvested having its impact on global warming. It is a cheap timber to buy, easy to manufacture and install. It has moderate durability.
Sapele is similar to Meranti and is grown in regions of Africa like the Ivory Coast. It is sometimes known as the poor man’s mahogany as it derives from the mahogany family of timber. It has been over harvested and it is listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as vulnerable to extinction.
African Idigbo (Also known asBlack Afara)
Idigbo is a light coloured African wood brought to the UK from Ghana, weighs approx 560kg per cubic metre and is a relatively inexpensive hardwood to purchase. Like most African hardwoods it is being over harvested and it is listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as vulnerable to extinction. When stained, it can have a similar colour to oak. However, that is where the likeness ends. There is no figure to its grain and when the two timber are placed close together there is no comparison, with oak a harder, more beautiful and durable timber.
Western Red Cedar
Western red cedar is softwood, not a hardwood. It used to be used extensively by Amdega* which until it went out of business in 2011 was one of the largest conservatory manufacturers in the UK. It is a very open grained, light material, easy to use and install. (*The Amdega brand is now owned by Everest and at the time of writing, markets conservatories manufactured primarily from Idigbo).
Pine has been the most popular wood used for windows and doors in the UK for centuries. It is a softwood and not as durable as oak, but is cheaper to buy, manufacture and install. It is an environmentally friendly timber and its harvesting is not creating any damage to the environment.