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Tulipwood to Cambia: The Process Explained

Post on 31st March 2022

Cambia wood is the result of a thermal treatment to tulip wood.

Tulipwood and Cambia are often used interchangeably when talking about timbers. But whilst, in general, they are taken to mean the same thing, Tulipwood and Cambia are entirely different products that are derived from the same source – which is where confusion often arises.

To become Cambia, Tulipwood undergoes a specialist process that thermally modifies the timber, resulting in several properties and characteristics that make it more beneficial as a building material. 

What is Tulipwood?

Versatile and aesthetically beautiful, naturally stunning Tulipwood is fast gaining popularity as a building material. As the name suggests, Tulipwood comes from the Tulip Tree, most commonly found in the United States. Tulipwood is highly sustainable due to its natural reseeding abilities and its rapid growth rate – which overtakes harvesting rates consistently, ensuring there’s a constant supply of fresh timber. 

Like Cedar and Birch, Tulipwood is hardy and robust, as it naturally resists warping and breakage. The Amish has widely used Tulipwood as a building material for many years – renowned for its hard-wearing and long-lasting structural properties. 

Tulipwood is also coveted for its natural beauty, which comes from its abundance of rich resins and special growth rate. Each piece of Tulipwood is beautifully unique with a stunning grain – with natural colouring varying from creamy beige to pale, silvery green. 

Why is Tulipwood thermally modified? 

Although Tulipwood offers a host of benefits in its organic state, when it undergoes the thermal modification process to transform it into Cambia (also known as Thermal Wood), many additional characteristics emerge. 

The most well-known benefit of thermal modification is the aesthetic it provides. As a result of this gentle, natural process, Tulipwood takes on deliciously rich, dark chocolate tones, not unlike mahogany or walnut. The colour change also results in a silky-smooth texture and brings out the natural beauty of the unique grain in each panel. 

The other advantage is durability – Cambia offers enhanced longevity and performance, rivalling its more costly counterparts. It is fire, rot and insect resistant, boasting high density, stability and strength – perfect for outdoor applications and uses. 

Other benefits include eco-credentials – as thermal modification offers an environmentally friendly and non-toxic alternative to other timber finishing processes, as some timbers are treated with petrochemicals to achieve a similar finish. Cambia is being hailed as the first genuinely green lumber – as its performance and cost-effectiveness outstrip more expensive, slightly less sustainable alternatives. 

Through thermally processing Tulipwood, we can achieve a high-end, tropical hardwood feel which offers fantastic value for money and durability. Cambia is resilient and versatile, so it’s perfect for various applications, from cladding and flooring to gating and, of course, fencing. 

How does Tulipwood become Cambia?

The thermal modification process is a relatively new method of timber processing that is unique. Each manufacturer will have a slightly different approach, and there are several traditional methodologies out there. 

There are several critical steps to our process, completely chemical-free and based on traditional techniques. 

1/ Using only heat, timber is placed in a special electric-powered oven which heats up to 210 degrees Celsius whilst also maintaining a low-oxygen environment using a vacuum process

2/ The wood ‘cooks’ and, due to the heat and pressure, undergoes a transformation at a molecular level during a cycle that lasts around 20 hours

3/ Peak temperature is reached via a controlled cooling process, whilst gases are condensed and stored for safe disposal, resulting in a 96% reduction of air emissions – an immaculate, green product compared with other thermal modification processes

This unique method results in high quality, incredibly tough products without the harmful emissions and toxic chemicals used through other similar processes.  

More information on Cambia wood can be found here.

Tulipwood Cambia from Slatted Screen Fencing

At Slatted Screen Fencing, we’re passionate about sourcing durable, sustainable, beautiful lumber for our handcrafted fence panels and slats. All our timbers are responsibly and sustainably sourced from FSC-accredited, PEFC-approved suppliers – so you can be sure that you’re receiving excellent quality and an environmentally friendly product. 

Please find more information on the Tulipwood/Cambia Wood fence panels page or get in touch for tailored advice on timber selection and bespoke requirements.