Introduction to Paulownia Wood
Paulownia is by far the fastest growing hardwood tree in the world, allowing commercial returns within three years.
Paulownia is native to Southeast Asia but it is used throughout the world with a number of uses from construction to, surfboards to bio-fuel. Due to its speed of growth, Paulownia has become a more reliable hardwood, guaranteed to grow quickly and satisfy increasing demands around the world. Research into Paulownia only really started when deforestation in North America became an issue and demand began to develop faster growing trees.
The Paulownia tree has deep roots, perfect for stability, making it strong and reliable and perfect for growing in areas of steep inclines where trees would not normally grow.
Due to Paulownia’s deep roots it also has a greater tolerance to wind, therefore allowing it to grow and flourish in areas where forests may have already failed.
The Paulownia trees are able to grow in areas that lack good quality soil and therefore perfect for reforestation and afforestation across the world; with its ease of growth, the Paulownia tree can quickly reforest an area. However, we suggest to carry the necessary soil studies, land preparation and have a good management team in place in order to maximize the performance of your paulownia plantation.
Paulownia wood is knot free, which greatly reduces wastage and makes it a good choice for many buyers. Paulownia trees are disease resistant and have a high temperature resistance – making Paulownia wood almost bullet proof to the elements.
Used in Asia for over 1,000 years, Paulownia is a very good insulator, has high temperature resistance and its combustion temperature is almost double that of many conventional hard and soft woods.
In real terms, it is widely acknowledged that Paulownia is the tree of the future.
However, NOT all paulownia is the same. There are more than 100 different species, just like olives or grapes. For this reason, it is important that you understand the different chacarteristics of each specie and take professional advice on which paulownia will suit you best.
General Paulownia Wood Characteristics
Paulownia wood is the lightest known timber other than balsa. It is also named the Aluminium of Timber. It is around two thirds of the weight of the lightest commercial wood currently being grown in Europe. Paulownia wood is a third of the weight of Oak and half the weight of Pine.
Paulownia wood has the highest strenght to weight ratios of any wood in the world. Auburn University tested the strenght of 18lbs p/cubic ft. against balsa with an average weight of 10lbs p/cubic foot.
Strength of modus rupture mor (psi)
Paulownia………5750 Source Dr. R.C. Tang, Auburn University
Plantation grown Paulownia is mostly knot free and holds nails and screws well without requiring pilot holes to be drilled. Both yellow poplar and white pine wood have proven to split before Paulownia wood.
Paulownia wood is a very good insulator. Paulownia constructed log homes are said to have twice the “R” factor as pine or oak wood. This temperature resistance serves to give the wood a high fire resistance too with ignition temperature approximately 400ºC, almost twice as high as many conventional hard and soft woods.
Other Paulownia Wood characteristics
- Low shrinkage;
- Very good dimensional stability;
- Resistance to insect damage;
- Resistance to fungal rots (but not to surface moulds).
Uses of Paulownia Wood
Paulownia wood has been used for a wide variety of purposes in China and Japan for more than 2500 years. Australia, the US, and now Euope are becoming principal consumers due to its unique characteristics. The main common products are:
- Housing components that do not require high timber strength.
- Aircraft and yatch fittings, requiring light wood.
- Water sport materials such as surfboards, wakeboards, skies, etc.
- Veneers for plywood.
- Furniture, especially drawers. This is because the wood fits snugly and is insect-resistant.
- Musical instruments, particularly sounding boards.
- Barrels, especially those used for acids, wine, etc.
- Beehives, for which light-weight and good insulating properties are needed.
- Aqueducts, in rural areas.
- Handcrafts, because the wood is easy to carve and turn.
- Rice bowls and other utensils, especially in earlier times.
- Wooden boxes for gifts or storage of paintings and scrolls.
- Charcoal for fireworks and filters.
- Wood pulp – which is white and strong.
- Wood shavings for packaging and insulation.
- Packaging, especially light crates.
- Paulownia Coffins, becoming very popular in Europe.
- Pattern-making, where timber stability is required.
In Australia and New Zealand, Paulownia wood is most likely to be used in the manufacture of veneers and furniture.
The popularity of paulownia wooden surfboards has been on the increase in recent years with technology playing a part in producing a quality product. Paulownia is the premier wood for producing surfboards, alaias, longboards,… because it has a good weight to strength ratio, is very light and absorbs less salt water than many other types of wood. Paulownia surfboards are usually finished with a natural oil which prevents damage from sun on the board and salt drying on the surface. It has low maintenance and can easily be made at home.
A further attraction with paulownia wooden surfboards, kayaks and boats is the small environmental impact compared with fibreglass products, which are recognised as pollutants with long decomposition time.
Paulownia Ltd. has carried out different Paulownia timber studies related to our specific clone variety in order to outperform any other Paulownia variety on the market, applying and issuing a Timber Quality Stamp (QWF), recognized by the EU department of Agriculture. To know more about the specific characteristics of our paulownia tree, please do not hesitate to contact us.