Pros and Cons of Merbau, Spotted Gum and Silvertop Ash

As an experienced Mornington Peninsula landscaper, one of the most frequent questions asked by my clients is ‘what is the best type of decking timber?’

So today I will talk about the pros and cons of three of the most popular decking timbers: Merbau, Spotted Gum and Silvertop Ash.

Merbau decking timber

Merbau is a hardwood imported from South East Asia, but can also be supplied from North Queensland. It pays to determine its origins because imported Merbau is often cut from non-sustainable tropical forests and is not environmentally friendly.

This hardwood is very strong, dense and long lasting (up to 40 years). Its colour turns from an initial yellow/brown to a more mature and deeper red/brown as it ages, but it does tend to bleed tannin, which can sometimes stain abutting concrete. This is not a hardwood that is used frequently in landscaping on the Mornington Peninsula, because if imported, it is not sustainable or environmentally friendly.
Spotted Gum decking timber

Spotted Gum is sustainably sourced from plantations throughout Australia and is a very popular hardwood, which is durable, dense and has minimal tannin leach. In general, Spotted Gum starts off quite light in colour and gradually turns a golden light brown as it matures, but the final colour does depend on which of the four species is used; it also tends to have an attractive wavy grain as well.

One of the benefits of using Spotted Gum in landscaping on the Mornington Peninsula, is that it is one of the hardwoods recommended to be used in bushfire prone areas. Spotted Gum is also a very environmentally friendly hardwood that is popular throughout Australia, is exported overseas and lasts for more than 40+ years.

Silvertop Ash decking timber

Silvertop Ash is a Eucalyptus, grown in sustainable native forests throughout the cooler parts of Australia, particularly along the coastline. It is very popular for its visible growth rings, making it a great hardwood for visual applications.

Silvertop has a medium density, is moderately durable (up to 25 years) and tends to start off white to light brown, tending to a pink/brown colour as it ages. This is another Australian hardwood that is frequently used in Mornington Peninsula landscaping, as it is environmentally friendly and its use is recommended in bushfire prone areas.

Concluding thoughts

Spotted Gum and Silvertop Ash are both naturally resistant to termites and the Lyctid borer, they are grown on sustainable Australian plantations and are environmentally friendly. On the other hand, Merbau is not naturally resistant to the Lyctid borer, but it is to termites and is generally an imported hardwood. Both the Australian timbers are recommended for use in bushfire prone areas and although Merbau is more long lasting than the Spotted Gum or the Silvertop, the clear winners are the Australian hardwoods.

A final tip if you are considering laying a deck is to screw down the hardwood, rather than nailing or even using a nail gun. This s because screwing the timber helps the timber to last up to 4 times longer than nailing.

Landscapes for living!