Buyer’s Guide to Timber

Timber is sustainable and versatile making it a popular choice with builders, architects and designers. It is specified in commercial and domestic applications to achieve striking effects.

When purchasing timber for projects large or small, there are many considerations.

Choosing the right timber

Wood is classified in two primary categories, hardwood and softwood, according to its properties. When choosing a timber from either category, it is important to find a species that meets the specific requirements of your project.


Hardwood trees are deciduous. Species include: Ash, Balsa, Blackbutt, Eucalyptus, Mahogany, Oak, Spotted Gum, Merbau, Jarrah, Ironbark, Teak and Walnut.

Hardwoods are usually heavier with higher density than softwoods. Hardwood is generally used when durability and strength are critical to a project.

Common uses:

  • Flooring
  • Decking
  • Cladding
  • Fencing
  • Frames
  • Boat building
  • Piers
  • Furniture

Hardwoods are used extensively in the building industry and for residential projects in high traffic areas, such as exterior decking or kitchen flooring.


Softwood trees are evergreen. Species include: Cedar, Douglas Fir, Kauri, Hemlock and Pine.

Common uses:

  • Feature walls
  • Paneling
  • Interiors
  • Ceilings
  • Doors
  • Windows
  • Beams
  • Poles

Products that are manufactured utilising softwoods such as Plywood and MDF are popular in shop-fittings, furniture and cabinetry.

Softwoods are chosen for their aesthetic, thermal and acoustic properties. They can also be a cheaper option than hardwoods.

General tips on buying timber

After deciding on a hardwood or softwood species, there are some general points to consider before shopping for your timber.

1. Decide on the level of quality needed for the application

For high profile projects where only the best quality will do, Australian native timbers are the perfect fit. They are a sustainable choice with the joint benefits of being durable and striking.

These timbers can be at the higher end of your budget but bear in mind that you get what you pay for.

2. Work out how much timber you need

If in doubt, buy more timber than you think you need, but don’t go overboard. Any surplus will make the project more expensive than it needs to be.

If the timber shows imperfections that you plan to discard or cut out, you’ll need to buy longer boards.

3. Check the colour

Wood of the same species can vary in appearance. To check that the colour of the timber matches requirements, hold it in good light to compare the look. In addition, check that each board is of similar colour as there can be huge variations.

If you are struggling with uniformity, consider a Colourtone in a similar colour to even out the appearance of your installation.

4. Check for damage and imperfections

Before you buy, check each piece of timber for any damage or imperfection, such as warping or splitting. This is important for safety and structural integrity.

After you buy, protect from wear and tear over time by utilising a wood protection oil such as Cutek CD50.

5. Buying rough sawn timber can be risky

Rough sawn timber is graded in terms of strength and not aesthetics so there can be a great deal of variation in the colour and appearance of the timber.

Shop within your budget range

There are timbers for all budgets. Hardwoods are usually the most expensive, while softwoods are often more economical.

Reclaimed or recycled timber can offer great value for money but you’ll have to shop around to find a species that matches your quality and quantity required.

It can pay to source comparative quotes when purchasing timber, especially when looking for value without wishing to sacrifice quality.

Shop for timber with a specific use in mind, work through the considerations listed above and don’t compromise on important parameters such as quality.

The restoring power of CUTEK Proclean

When exposed to the elements, timber can quickly begin to look worse for wear. Whilst decks and cladding get plenty of attention in the lead up to summer, outdoor wooden furniture is often overlooked in yearly timber maintenance. This summer make sure your outdoor furniture is brought back to life with CUTEK Proclean.

To showcase the incredibly restoring power of Cutek Proclean, we decided to apply it to a drab, weathered timber reclining chair. Note, this chair had not previously been coated with a Cutek protective wood oil. The chair was severely discoloured and moss and fungi had begun to take hold. We decided to apply Cutek Proclean to only one side of the chair, allowing the restoring agent to clean and brighten the timber for 15 minutes before water blasting to clean.

The results speak for themselves:

Notice how the Cutek Proclean easily removes the remnants of the fungi and moss from the surface of the timber. Not only is the timber cleaned, but it is restored. The natural beauty of the grain and the rich colour of the wood returns to its original appearance.

Next up: protect the timber with a clear coat of Cutek Wood Preservative to resist the damage of moisture, fungal decay, mould and termites. A simple, fast, cost effective process to ensure this chair has many more summers in service.

Perhaps you have some outdoor timber furniture that needs a facelift? Be sure to drop into your local Cutek stockist to grab Cutek Proclean and bring your old timber furniture back to life.

Talking all things Cutek at Paint Right Coolum

Earlier this month, David and Greg from the Cutek team headed to the Sunshine Coast to spend the day with the Paint Right team and their customers.

Over a sausage sizzle and an in-store Q&A session with local painters, builders and homeowners, David and Greg shared their tips for getting the best out of timber decks and features with Cutek’s premium wood protection products.

It was a fantastic opportunity to download their product knowledge and help answer some of the everyday questions about using Cutek and its benefits.

They covered everything from application and dry time, to protecting decks from exposure to the harsh Queensland sun and coastal conditions. They even put Cutek-coated and uncoated timber samples under a microscope (literally), so people could see Cutek’s unique, scientifically-proven qualities for themselves.

An Information Day like the one at Paint Right Coolum is just one of the ways we support our resellers and distributors. The Cutek team is on-hand every day to answer any technical questions you have or we can visit your store to provide on-the-job training for you and your sales team.

Call 1300 1 CUTEK or send us an email.

CUTEK Extreme wins the Great Stain Shoot-Out

Independent trial names Cutek Extreme the best wood deck finish.

In October 2014, US based, Professional Deck Builder Magazine completed an independent test of 22 different deck finishes on 6 different species of wood.  After two and a half years, Cutek Extreme has again been listed as the first-choice wood deck finish.

Internationally known deck designer and builder, Kim Katwijk, conducted the trial and cited Cutek Extreme as best in its class due to its easy application, good colour retention, and moisture protection. Testing was conducted in Olmypia, Washington where, during the rainy season, a deck can stay wet for weeks, even months.

After 9 months exposure, Katwijk named Cutek Extreme as the authors top choice in his initial findings The Great Stain Shoot-Out. It pinpointed deep penetration, no mould growth, no peels or flakers and easy application as reasons behind the ranking. In the next published findings – The Great Stain Shoot-Out: The Sequel – Katwijk highlights that even after 28 months in full exposure to the harsh elements, Cutek Extreme still repelled moisture with water continuing to bead on the surface of the wood. Further to this, Cutek received the highest mark across the 3 deck coating categories:

Effort to applyColour RetentionMoisture Protection

There you have it, an independent, international timber deck finishes trial rates Cutek Extreme as the best choice to protect your timber and maintain a pleasing aesthetic.

Be sure to check out the full articles at the below link:

The Great Stain Shoot-Out (9 month Observations):

The Great Stain Shoot-Out: The Sequel (2.5 year observations):

The power of CUTEK Extreme on the water intake of timber

The CUTEK lab is always researching, developing, innovating and testing to ensure that CUTEK fulfils the mandate of providing the very best woodcare. The latest test conducted in the CUTEK lab shows the impact CUTEK timber oils has on minimising the water uptake in timber.

Why water intake matters:

Water is the enemy of wood. In damp and rainy conditions moisture ingresses into the timber causing swelling. When the timber dries, it shrinks. Over time, repeated we-to-dry cycles causes timber to crack, split, warp and rot.

One of the core features of CUTEK oil is that it deeply penetrates into timber, repelling liquid and gas phase moisture, to protect the timber from the inside out. However, not all timber is the same. Different species offer different cell structures, extractives and densities which change the timbers hygroscopic nature. In short, the water intake of timber differs depending on the species.

To see the effect CUTEK oil has on the water intake of different species of timber the CUTEK Lab decided to test the effects of CUTEK on 12 different species of timber.

The test:

We applied two coats of CUTEK Extreme on 12 different wood species two weeks apart and left to sit indoors for two months. We then submerged these 12 coated wood cuts under water for four days. Simultaneously, we submerged the same species wood cuts, except this time, not coated with CUTEK Extreme.

After four days, the wood cuts were removed and surface water was wiped off with a towel. The cuts were then weighed on a balance to determine the difference in weight from the original uncoated piece of timber. The difference in weight will indicate the volume of water that has been absorbed by the timber.

The results


The results show that CUTEK Extreme makes a significant impact in reducing the water intake across all the different species of timber. Across the 12 tested species, coating in CUTEK Extreme reduced water intake by an average of 54%.

The greater the density of timber, the harder it is for water to penetrate. The inverse also applies. This is exemplified by the softwood Hoop Pine which weighed more than 80% after submersion. However, when CUTEK Extreme was applied, absorption was only 25%; a decrease of 55%. This water decrease was also the trend for the tested hardwood species. Water intake on the popular decking Merbau decreased by more than 55% when coated with CUTEK Extreme compared to timber that was uncoated.


Wood coated in CUTEK Extreme offers considerable protection against the negative affects of water penetration. Be sure to stay tuned for further developments and testing from our CUTEK Lab.

How to Successfully Achieve the “Silver-Look” in Timber

Allowing timber to weather naturally can produce a striking silver-grey appearance. This refined silver-grey is a sought-after look, creating an elegant and natural timber aesthetic.

Silvered off timber facades and decks have become increasingly popular with architects, designers and homeowners who want to achieve a distinctive appearance in contemporary homes.

Weathering involves exposing new timber to the elements. It’s a natural process that helps remove tannins and oils from the surface of timber. The key to getting this look is to use the right timber and follow the right process.

Take three steps to achieve the on-trend look.

1. Choose your timber

In order to achieve a silver-grey finish, it’s essential to choose the right timber. Some hardwoods will splinter or split during the weathering process or may not weather to the desired colour.

Rosewood, Spotted Gum and Silvertop Ash are top choices that when weathered silver, blend beautifully into the natural environment.

2. Let the process happen naturally

Staining timber grey won’t achieve a naturally weathered aesthetic, nor will use of a colourtone.

A do-it-yourself approach is likely to result in a paint-like unnatural appearance. To achieve an organic, natural result, the wood must be exposed to the elements and given time to age and silver gradually.

3. Use a protective oil during the process

It’s a myth that timber must be left unoiled while it silvers with age. The timber needs protection from the weather, especially in harsh climates, to prevent it from drying, splintering, cupping, warping or rotting.

Unlike most other coatings, Cutek CD50 oil works in harmony with the weathering process by offering inside out protection while still allowing the timber to silver off over time.

Silver weathered timber can stand the test of time if it is looked after well. In conjunction with the steps above, continued use of a protective oil will guard against the elements and enable the silvered timber to retain its unique appearance for many years to come.

Which timber is best suited to your decking project?

So, you’ve decided to use timber for your deck. Now for the hard part. It’s time to decide which timber is best suited to your project.

Factors to consider in choosing a timber species include appearance, where the deck is to be located, ongoing maintenance requirements, budget and availability.


Timber is often chosen for its natural beauty and good looks. Exposing the grain can have a dramatic and aesthetically pleasing effect.

When choosing a timber species, consider what colour you would like for your deck. Enhancing the natural hue of the timber can be achieved by using a Colourtone.  By choosing a shade that matches the natural colour of the wood, the knots and grains will shine through. Building up the colour will make a style statement.


Choosing a timber that will withstand the weather conditions it will be exposed to is critical.

A high level of exposure to rain, sunshine and even wind will require a hardy species. Using Cutek’s wood protection system will guard against the elements and ensure a good looking deck for years to come.

Ongoing maintenance

Whichever material you choose, your deck will need regular maintenance to keep it looking great. Keep in mind that some decking timbers are quicker and easier to maintain than others.

Using a Cutek protection oil will help, in extreme conditions choose Cutek Extreme, specifically formulated for the toughest climates.

Budget and availability

Decking timbers vary in price, from more expensive hardwoods to lower-cost treated pine.

If you are working to a budget, ensure that you plan for the space that needs to be covered and bear in mind the qualities you require to suit the purpose of your decking. More widely available timbers tend to be less expensive and easier to source, especially if you’re on a tight timeframe.


There are many hardwoods to choose from that are suited to decking projects.

Pros of hardwood

  • Can produce striking installations
  • High quality, durable timber
  • Tend to cost less than composite decking

Cons of hardwood

  • Some species prone to extractive bleedout or ironstain
  • Likely to cost more than treated pine decks
  • Can be difficult to drill or nail

Hardwood Species

There are many hardwood species to choose from. Merbau’s warm red-brown tones make a striking deck that invites year-round use. The species is durable yet can be less expensive than other hardwoods.

Ironbark is the most durable hardwood for decking and offers longevity. It is extremely fire, termite and rot resistant. On the flip side, its high density can make it hard to work with. On account of its strength, Ironbark is without doubt one to consider for installations that will be highly trafficked or for poolside decks.

The rich brown of Jarrah makes it a popular choice. Jarrah can be expensive but is also fire resistant. If left unsealed Jarrah will turn a lovely grey colour over time. Blackbutt is another timber with high resistance to fire, but is more prone to ironstains.

Spotted Gum is widely used for decking on account of its durability and strength. It is sustainably harvested in Australia making it an environmentally sound native choice.

The species is also fire retardant and is very dense with low levels of shrinkage. Spotted Gum tends to bleed less than some other hardwoods, and it has a broad colour range making for unique applications.

Yellow and red stringybark are durable enough for outdoor use. Yellow stringybark is usually cheaper than red. Both hardwoods can exhibit borer holes, something to bear in mind aesthetically before choosing it for your deck.

Using a high performing protection oil such as Cutek CD50 or Cutek Extreme will ensure your hardwood deck endures harsh climatic conditions to look stunning all year round.

Treated Pine

Treated pine is a cost-effective choice but won’t have the same durability of a hardwood.

Pros of treated pine

  • Lightweight and versatile to work with
  • Affordable
  • Pressure-treated to withstand decay, fungi or termites
  • Can be stained or painted to change its appearance

Cons of treated pine

  • Not as aesthetically pleasing as a hardwood
  • Can be restrictive in that it has already been treated
  • Needs regular oiling to protect against the elements

Cutek CD50 or Cutek Extreme can be used straight on pre-treated pine without using a preparation treatment first.

Cutek Proclean is a professional grade wood restoration product that will prepare the timber for the protection oil. Cutek CD33 Naked will also prepare the timber and allow the treatment oil to penetrate and do its job.

If you are working to a tight budget, treated pine certainly has its advantages but these are traded off against its looks. Before purchasing treated pine for your decking project, check whether it is suitable for outdoor use.

The critical factors in choosing a timber species are desired appearance, location, ongoing maintenance, budget and availability. Working through each element will help you to arrive at the right solution for your project.

Timber oil vs stain vs varnish vs paint

There are many types of timber treatments and finishes available. Although each is different, terms such as ‘timber oil, ‘stain’ and ‘varnish’ are often used interchangeably.

We examine the properties of some of these popular products and when each might be used.


Wood stain

Purpose: Designed to penetrate and change the colour of wood while leaving the grain visible.


  • Highlights the natural beauty of the wood
  • Can be colour matched to your styling
  • Offers some wood protection
  • Wears away gradually, only requiring periodic re-coating
  • Easy to clean and maintain


  • Doesn’t offer a lot of protection to the wood, especially in harsh environments
  • Can raise the grain in wood

After staining, oils or varnishes can be applied to the wood as a protective layer.

When to use: To expose the natural beauty of a timber installation.



Purpose: Varnish is an older finish made up of oils, resin and solvents that coats the wood as a protective layer.

Varnish can be compared to paint without the pigment.


  • A protective coating can be applied after stains
  • Ensures the natural grains of the wood remain exposed
  • Durable and hard wearing
  • Choice of matt, satin or gloss like paint
  • Exterior varnishes are often microporous and have an added fungicide
  • Available as a ‘fire retardant’ treatment
  • Offers UV protection (where stated)


  • Varnish can’t be used on its own as it doesn’t protect the wood inside
  • Accentuates stains, bumps and marks so preparation of the timber is essential
  • Dries slowly

When to use: When finish is important for decorative purposes and when a project requires the  natural timber look to be retained.


Polyurethane varnish

Purpose: Tough protection for wood after staining.


  • Can be used in place of varnish with the same benefits and more
  • Extremely durable with a hard finish
  • Heat resistant


  • Has a plastic, unnatural look about it
  • Not UV resistant (unless specifically stated on product)

When to use: Applications where a durable surface is required, especially in high traffic areas.


Combined Products

There are some combined stains and varnishes available on the market designed to be applied for one-step colour and protection.

These varnishes with added colour can be a time-saver, however they may need more maintenance and reapplying more frequently.



Purpose: To protect and change the look of timber.


  • Many different colours on the market
  • Choice of matt, satin or gloss
  • Can be considered aesthetically pleasing
  • Can cover up unsightly timber
  • Available as a ‘fire retardant’ treatment
  • Durable and hard wearing


  • Coats the top of the wood rather than penetrating the wood
  • Hides the natural beauty of timber
  • Can peel and look unsightly particularly after exposure to the elements
  • Surfaces must be thoroughly prepared before application, usually including sanding
  • Is expensive to reapply when used on vast areas

When to use: In situations where it is desirable to cover or weatherproof timber without exposing the natural grain at all.


Wood oils

Purpose: Designed to bring out the character in wood whist offering some protection.


  • Brings out the natural beauty in wood (more so than a stain) and makes the grain ‘pop’
  • Replaces natural oil in wood that dries out over time
  • Adds protection against moisture
  • User-friendly; easy to apply and maintain
  • Long-term, cost effective option


  • Traditional wood oils aren’t as durable as varnish
  • Oils are not easily covered with varnish or paint


The Cutek Difference

Cutek CD50 oil is a professional option that offers more protection than traditional wood oils as it works from the inside out by deeply penetrating the timber. Cutek oils are long lasting making them a great choice for timber exposed to the elements. Cutek Extreme has been developed for tough conditions.

Cutek timber protection oils are designed to minimise warping, cupping and splitting over time. Cutek is versatile, a Colourtone can easily be added for a stunning effect.

Timber is amazingly versatile, with the right level of care it can be used for a vast array of projects. Wood does need to be looked after and treated with respect in order to ensure that it retains its beauty over time. Choosing the right timber treatment or finish for an installation is critical.

Make your deck a year-round space

During the winter months we often favour indoor spaces leaving decks and exterior areas under-utilised but there are many ways to set up your outdoor deck for year-round living.

Here’s our top five!

1. Create warmth

During the winter months, adding a source of heat such as an outdoor heater, heater panel or firepit will certainly add comfort and extend the use of the deck.

Add a touch of style with a decorative heater or portable fire pit that makes a statement. If space allows, a built-in fire can be designed to fit the space and complement the exterior fittings.

Tip: Keep heat sources off the decking to prevent burns or marks.

2. Build your deck in

Consider adding a roof to your deck to keep the warmth in and make the space cosier. If using timber, select a species that complements the existing deck and give thought to a warming Cutek Colourtone that makes a style statement.

If adding a fixed roof isn’t an option, an awning or weatherproof panels could be a simple way of achieving the same outcome.

Tip: Winter sun can provide warmth during daylight hours. A flexible solution, such as an operable roof, will let light in when required.

3. Decorate and refresh the space

Consider your deck another room, have some fun styling it to create a familiar atmosphere in keeping with your home. Add some creature comforts such as cushions and candles to create warmth. Choose pieces that are weatherproof and can be left outside all year round and introduce evergreen plants that flourish whatever the season to bring some natural colour.

Tip: When decorating take the time to assess maintenance requirements and apply a coat of deck oil. Cutek’s CD50 Oil will work to control moisture from the inside out, minimise warping, cupping and splitting to provide protection through the Winter months well into Summer when the sun’s rays become stronger.

4. Let there be light

With the nights closing in earlier in Winter, lighting is essential. Outdoor lights can often be very stark. Decorate with string lights or ambient lighting to create an inviting space.

5. Add a hot tub

Hot tubs are the perfect tonic for the winter months. If layout and structure allow, installing one can create a fantastic feature that really opens up the opportunity to get outdoors and use the space in the cooler months.

Cooler weather can make it challenging to utilise outdoor areas that are in constant use during the summer months.

By taking some simple steps to open up outdoor living spaces for year-round use will make the most of your deck and improve your home’s liveability.

What is ‘The Cutek Difference’?

Cutek offers innovative wood protection with a stand-out difference.  With so many wood protection products to choose from it’s a big claim.

So, what is the Cutek difference?

The problem with traditional coatings

Examining the issue with traditional coatings will help to explain why Cutek is so different.

When first applied to timber, traditional coatings look good on the surface. However they have a common weakness. Exposure to the elements, including harsh UV rays and rain will cause damage to timber over time.


 1. Traditional coatings sit on the top of the timber



2. UV rays break down the coating and cause it to peel leaving the timber exposed.



3. When it rains, moisture gets in causing the timber to swell.



4. The timber then shrinks in the sun.


After exposure to the elements, the wood cracks, splits, warps and rots. Re-coating with a traditional product will cause the cycle to repeat itself and your timber installation won’t last.


 ‘The Cutek Difference’

Cutek wood finishes work differently to traditional wood protection products. Instead of sitting on the surface of the timber, the oils diffuse deeply into the wood to protect it from the inside out.


Cutek oil penetrates deeply into the timber and repels water.



The timber stays better protected for longer in all weather conditions.



Cutek stays mobile inside the wood – if you can add a fastener or cut the timber it will self-heal.


Cutek’s unique formula has been developed by our team of experts to keep timber more stable over time. You can protect your investment and enjoy the beautiful look of your timber installation for much longer.


The Cutek difference: timber that stands the test of time.


Our wood protection system is proven and chosen by industry professionals time and again.  Use Cutek for your next project to experience ‘The Cutek Difference’ for yourself.

Watch ‘The Cutek Difference’ video.