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The Best Timber to Use in the Tropics


Despite the ever present threat of termites in the Northern Territory, timber buildings are still hugely popular. Unlike steel or brick structures, it is well suited to tropical climates. During the daylight hours, timber captures heat, which can actually help you save on energy bills. However, light timber frames also heat up quickly and release heat quickly when the sun goes down, so you won’t have to worry about sleeping in a sweatbox. As for termites; well, there are a number of steps you can take both pre and post construction to address the problem. Termite inspection is just one of the services that professional building inspectors can offer you.

Timber Choices

There are some great choices in timber for internal and external construction; however, each is best suited for use in specific areas of the build.

Crow’s Ash (Australian Teak)

If you want strong, durable flooring or decking, you won’t go far wrong with Crow’s Ash. This is a hardwood which, due to low supplies, may come at a higher price. However, aesthetically, it is a beautiful wood that will give your home character and class.

Silvertop Ash

This timber has all round applications, from framing to flooring, fittings, and furniture. It’s a fairly durable wood but its greatest appeal is its resistance to bush fires. Silvertop Ash also has beautiful markings, in the form of visible growth rings throughout the wood.

Mountain Ash

Another excellent choice for framing, panel work, floors, and anything else really, is Mountain Ash. With tropical climates come tropical storms, so weatherboards are always a good idea. If you have incorporated weatherboards into your building design, Mountain Ash is an ideal choice in timber.

White Cyprus

A straight grained wood, White Cyprus is a timber that is high on quality. Although its primary use is in flooring, this timber suits almost any purpose. You can build exquisite furniture from White Cyprus, which is especially pleasing to the eye if you also used the timber for doors or paneling. This wood is also available in a range of beautiful colours, from light yellow through to a darker brown.

Queensland Kauri

Shelving is an important aspect of any home, and can help you optimize space and add character to the home. Queensland Kauri is perfect for shelving and cabinets; however, you will need to treat the timber. The wood is susceptible to blue stain, which is a type of fungi that is known to infect the Queensland Kauri. Once treated, you shouldn’t encounter any problems.

Celery Top Pine

Celery Top Pine is one of the most beautiful types of timber you will find in Australia. However, there’s a down side, in that it isn’t very common. There are suppliers who specialize in selling Celery Top Pine, so if you are set on a quality timber, it’s worth the extra effort. A simple Google search returns a number of results for suppliers, such as Trend Timbers who can source Celery Top Pine on your behalf.

As someone who lives in tropical Australia, it is always important to consider humidity levels when deciding on which type of timber to use. Speak to local supplies to gain research on the most suitable  for your region. Due to the mixture of dry and wet seasons in the Northern Territory, it is also important to design your home in a way that helps reduce the impact of extreme weather conditions. A professional building inspector can help, too, by assessing the site and ensuring that any timber used falls in line with applicable building codes.


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