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Know Your Wood: Iroko

Post on 21st April 2022

Hailing from tropical Africa, Iroko wood is rapidly experiencing increased popularity in the UK. Iroko has been used traditionally for hundreds (if not thousands) of years, but it is also becoming a stylish addition for domestic and commercial developments and applications worldwide. Iroko wood’s stunning appearance and natural durability make it perfect for various applications and a fantastic choice for homeowners, architects and landscapers. 

What is Iroko wood?

Iroko timber is a tropical hardwood from the deciduous Milicia Excelsa or Milicia Regia species, a large, majestic tree that can live for up to 500 years. Iroko has been treasured for many years as timber for furniture, flooring, gates and fencing, and the manufacture of musical instruments and boat building. 

Native to Africa, Iroko wood is richly steeped in various cultures throughout the continent – it can be found growing in Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Ethiopia in rainforests, evergreen forests and wet savannah habitats. Many myths and legends surround the celebrated Iroko tree, including the ‘Iroko man’ or spirit of Iroko and its abundant healing properties. Scientific research and studies have shown that Iroko wood is rich in flavonoids, tannins and saponins, and has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Its leaves, flowers, fruits and timber are all commonly used for traditional medicine. 

Iroko has been used as an alternative to Teak in more recent years as it offers incredible resistance to rotting and insect/pest damage. But now, it’s being recognised in its own right as a beautiful, hardy timber, offering a stylish look and feel that’s ideal for any indoor or outdoor environment. 

What does Iroko wood look like? What kind of style can I achieve?

Also known as African Oak, African Teak and Corkwood, Iroko wood is favoured for its beautiful, interwoven grain – a texture accompanied by light flecked markings and a caramel colouring that varies between paler yellow-brown honey tones and deeper, darker tones. Iroko wood offers a chic yet organic feel, ideal for fencing, cladding, gates and outdoor furniture. 

What are the benefits of using Iroko wood?

Iroko wood has a variety of fantastic benefits that have influenced its increased popularity, including characteristics such as:

Stable, solid and durable: Iroko wood is highly robust and resilient, offering strength and stability, ideal for outdoor applications.

Naturally, rot and pest resistant: Rich resins at the heart of Iroko wood offer natural protection against damage caused by pests and infestations of fungus and rot. 

Shrink and warp-resistant: Iroko wood is highly stable and seasoned thanks to its natural habitat and exposure to the elements such as intense, dry heat, wind and rain. High-density Iroko does not stain or spoil easily and is moisture, shrink and warp resistant. 

Low maintenance: One fantastic advantage of Iroko wood is the low level of maintenance required to keep it looking and performing at its best. Iroko wood does not need to be treated with oil or varnish to protect it when used in outdoor applications. 

Value for money: Compared with other timbers, the import and purchase of Iroko wood are still reasonable – making it an excellent option if you’re working to a specific budget with other hardwoods. Iroko wood is also a good alternative to Teak. Genuine Teak has a very high price tag, but Iroko offers many similar characteristics at a fraction of the price. Where a customer is looking for Teak, we can recommend this as an excellent alternative. 

Durability: Iroko wood furniture can last for up to 100 years indoors – for outdoor uses, you can expect a lifespan of around 50 to 60 years, which can be extended even longer if treatment is applied. 

Beauty and charm: Iroko wood is favoured because of its rich, warm golden-brown colour – which is not unlike oak. Its grain is also intricate and interesting, making it a real feature wherever you plan to use it internally or externally. Like many other timbers, Iroko wood will fade to a silvery-grey hue if not treated within 12 months. 

Sustainably sourced Iroko wood

When you purchase FSC and PEFC accredited timber, you can be sure that it is sourced via properly managed forests that preserve populations of trees for future generations. By doing this, we can ensure that Iroko wood is around for many years to come. 

At Slatted Screen Fencing, we’re passionate about producing stunning, sustainably sourced, hand-finished timber products carefully designed to enhance any environment. Browse our collection of sustainably-sourced, stunning Iroko wood products today.