Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ about Merbau (Kwila) Hardwood 

What is Kwila (Merbau) and why is it used in outdoor furniture?

Kwila, also known as Merbau, is a tropical timber which naturally grows in various regions throughout the South East Pacific rim, such as Northern Queensland, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Malaysia and Indonesia.   We have chosen Kwila as one of the hardwoods to be used to manufacture our outdoor range because of it many suitable properties:

  • Stability and natural resistance to splitting
  • All furniture can remain permanently outdoors in all climates
  • Natural oil in Kwila makes it extremely durable
  • Minimal shrinkage
  • Withstand extremes weather conditions, and
  • Kwila has a "Rating 1" from the Australian Department of Primary Industries rating, which is the highest standard of suitability for timber used in outdoor furniture. 

How durable is Kwila furniture and can it be permanently left outdoors?

Kwila is extremely durable.   In fact, due to the hardness of the wood, kwila furniture is difficult to manufacture without specialized machinery.   The rich, natural oil in Kwila is the main feature of this timber, which makes it more durable than other timbers commonly used for outdoor furniture.   It has minimal shrinkage and can withstand extremes of climate, even saltwater.   To ensure the life-long durability of the furniture, all the fastenings used are made from high quality 304 grade stainless steel.   The folding position chairs have a combination of nickel plated brass plates which cannot rust, combined with stainless steel hardware in all exposed areas.

Does Kwila have any other uses?

For many decades Kwila hardwood has had a variety of uses including:

  • boat building
  • flooring
  • decking
  • marine jetties, and
  • staircases. 

Does the Kwila leach or bleed?

Kwila is a very oily timber, one of the reasons that it is successfully used in the manufacturing of outdoor furniture.   The sap is the oil that occurs naturally (also known as Tannin), deep in the timber, which uniquely protects the timber from splitting and cracking.   However, the furniture may leach when first exposed to rain, heavy dew and other moisture.   The oil comes from excess sap, which can be easily flushed away through hosing the furniture.   This will avoid any staining of concrete and unsealed tiles.

Maintenance & Care Instructions

How do I wash down the timber to stop it from staining?

If you choose to wash down your Kwila by hosing, it may take several hours before the Tannin will bleed or leach out of the furniture.   To hasten this process, there are products which are usually already in most home laundries that work very well to wash the timber.   These products are used for soaking and treating stains in coloured clothing.   Some of the more common commercial brand names are Napisan for Colours, ScotchBrite, and Swift Laundry Soaker.     All are used for removing stains from coloured clothing items.   Used according to the manufacturer’s instructions for dissolving into water, this stain soaker solution can used in a plastic spray bottle and squirted over all surfaces of the timber, and hosing off with water.   Do not let the wood completely dry out and keep hosing down until the water runs clear.   When the water runs clear, roughly dry the furniture off with a rag to stop any water spot markings on the wood.   Once the furniture is completely dry, and this could take from several hours until overnight depending on the climatic conditions, re oil with good quality CLEAR timber oil that has a sunscreen (most good quality oils have a UV protector which will maintain the rich look of the timber).   Do not be alarmed at the very dry appearance of the wood after it has been bled.   Only the surface tannin has been removed.

How often do I need to oil the furniture?

By regularly oiling your outdoor furniture, you will maintain the original colour of the furniture.   However, even without regular additional oiling only end checking of the timber will occur, no matter how exposed the furniture is to weather conditions.   Sunlight will cause the colour to gradually fade and if left un-oiled, Kwila will weather to a light silver-grey colour.   Once the product is dry after washing, it is also recommended that a light application of oil is applied to the timber.

What type of oil should I use on Kwila products?

We recommend the use of good quality, natural and environmentally friendly decking oil such as Organoil (details can be found under Accessories), which can be wiped over kwila with a lint free cloth, maintaining the colour and grain of the timber.   However, any deck or wooden outdoor furniture oil with a UV stabiliser and anti fungal additive may also be suitable but you should check this with the supplier/stockist/retailer prior to use.

What about rain and saltwater?

Kwila is resistant to them.   As the tannin in the product acts as a natural preservative it has minimal shrinkage and can withstand extreme climate conditions.   Even rain and saltwater will not deteriorate the timber.

Does Kwila need any special cleaning or maintenance?

Once you have thoroughly washed the product, it will only require regular oiling to maintain its original appearance.   The climate conditions of your region will determine how often you oil the furniture.   Besides that, Kwila is virtually maintenance free.

Can kwila products be painted and varnished at home?

Yes, however it is not advisable, since the colour or varnish would not be long-lasting.   The tannin in the wood can react adversely with most paints.

Warranty Information

With our Kwila Outdoor furniture you can be assured of a very high quality and hand finished products.   We provide 5 years warranty* against faulty workmanship and timber.   *The 5 year warranty extends to domestic use only.   For commercial use our standard warranty is 2 years from date of order.    The warranty does not extend to screw and fastenings on chairs which require regular checking to ensure they are working.    The Warranty does not cover Misuse or Abuse.     The warranty does not extend to surface checking (see below).   For further information plese refer to the documentation received with your product(s), the Warranty Information contained within the FAQs of our web site or pick up the phone and give us a call - we are here to help.

What is Surface Checking in Kwila and other hardwoods?

Kwila is a natural material and as such fine cracks in the wood may appear and disappear with changes in the weather and the consequent changes in the moisture content of the wood.   Such fine cracks are normal in all hardwoods and will not affect the life or serviceability of your furniture.   Why does this happen? The primary reason for surface checking is in layman’s terms; the wood absorbs moisture and dries out.   When there is very heavy moisture absorption, the inner layers of the wood does not dry as quickly as the outer layers.   Sometimes the volume change is not equal in all directions and movement can be seen as a surface crack.   The outside section dries out quickly and shrinks while the inside section continues to dry more slowly.   Surface checks will close up in time as the whole of the section dries out.   The process can be hastened by oiling the surface to add moisture back into the grain.   Oily tannin naturally occurring in kwila is a valuable protection against splitting.   Kwila retains its hygroscopic characteristics after it is put into use.   It is then subjected to fluctuating humidity, and moisture, the dominant factors in determining its EMC, or “Equilibrium Moisture Content”.   Your kwila furniture is kiln dried to a moisture content that is close to average EMC conditions to which it will be exposed.   The Australian Standard for Timber Drying Quality (AS/NZS 4787, 2001) recognizes that there is quite a difference in seasonal changes in States across Australia with the EMC recommended as low as 6% to 18% depending on the location.

How is Surface Checking different to a split?

A split is where there is a crack both sides of the wood and not just a gap in the surface.   Are all Timbers the same in this process of surface checking?   All timber has movement as it expands and contracts repeatedly.   However only Class 1/ 2 hardwoods are recommended by Australia’s CSIRO and Timber Advisory Board as being suited to exposed conditions and thereby giving high durability and stability.   Meaning, it will last a long time and be relatively stable, performing well over its life.   (Australian Standard 5604-2003).   Hardwoods recommended for all weather conditions include Kwila (Merbau), Spotted Gum and Teak.

Cushion & Covers

Sunproof®, the trademark established as the premium quality fabric specially designed and weaved to perfectly dress your outdoor furniture with 3 years warranty from Colour fading.   For more information on the products specification please visit Sunproof® The warranty does not cover damage done by normal fabric care and cleaning; or damage from misuse or abuse.   Replacement fabric is warranted under the remaining term of the original warranty.Cleaning: Sunproof® recommend leaving cushion covers on the cushions for cleaning, rather than removing them and putting them in the washing machine.   Wash using natural soap (not detergent) and rinse in cold water.   Air dry only, never apply heat to the fabric or put Sunproof® into a tumble dryer.   Dry cleaning is not recommended.   Sunbrella® is the market leader in the manufacture of outdoor acrylic fabrics.   A 3 year warranty from delivery will apply for Sunbrella Fabric that is deemed by the supplier to be unserviceable due to fading from normal usage and exposures conditions.   The warranty does not cover damage done by normal fabric care and cleaning; damage from misuse or abuse.   For more information please click the following link:

Cleaning: Sunbrella recommend leaving cushion covers on the cushions for cleaning rather than removing them and putting them in the washing machine.   Wash using natural soap (not detergent) rinse in cold water.   Air dry only, never apply heat to the fabric or put Sunbrella into a tumble dryer.   Dry cleaning is not recommended.