Coconut wood is a common construction material in many places of the Asia-Pacific region. Its properties are comparable to hardwood and seen as a viable source of building material and other applications.
Hardwood is one of the most in-demand materials in the construction and furniture industry. It’s also used in hundreds of other applications. But the supply of this material has become a scarcity in many markets lately. This is due to the stringent laws many governments imposed on the harvesting of rainforest trees.
Because of this, the business sector involved in the wood industry needs to find viable alternative sources. Demand has always been constant.
Coconut wood seen as a viable source of building material
Following to several different studies, it has been found that the coconut wood makes a viable source of building material and other applications.
Coconut wood is the processed stem fiber from coconut palms. It’s an erect pole-like branchless trunk. Its body usually grows around 30 to 40 centimeters in diameter, while the base can reach up to a meter. When it is thoroughly sawn and seasoned, the high-density coconut wood can give its utmost performance. Its performance can be compared to, or even better than the conventional hardwood.
Unlike the conventional hardwood, the wood from the coconut palm does not have annual rings. Instead, hardness is defined according to its three degrees of density.
Low-density timber. It is the middle part of the coconut stem. It has a density of soft to medium at 200 to 400 kilograms per cubic meter. This part is used in non-load structures. You can use it in making panels, internal trim, and ceiling.
The low-density timber is also used in homewares application.
Medium-density timber. This is the sub-dermal portion of the coconut stem. It’s found right next to the high-density part. The medium-density timber is classified as medium-hard at 400 to 600 kilograms per cubic meter. This is the ideal material for walls, ceiling joists, and horizontal studs.
High-density timber is the dermal part, found at the periphery of the coconut stem. With a density of 600 to 900 kilograms per cubic meter, the high-density timber is classified as hard. This part is used in general applications. To name a few:
- floor tiles or parquet
- floor joists
- door jambs
- window frames
- and, other load-bearing structures
In some cases also, an entire coconut trunk can be utilized as power and telecommunication lines.
Where to source coconut wood
The coconut palms are abundantly available in the Asia-Pacific region. You can particularly find them in Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, and India. Locals in these areas consider the coconut as one of the most important crops. They use its fruits in the production of oil and medicine. The coconut is also an important food ingredient for them.
Coconut trees yield fruits up to approximately 70 to 80 years of its life. After that, they become senile and unproductive. They have to be cut down to make way for new trees. And we are speaking of millions of senile coconuts every year!
Aside from this volume, thousands of fruit-yielding varieties are also felled by typhoons and hurricanes. We all know that the Asia-Pacific region receives around 20 weather conditions each year. So, you could just imagine how many (otherwise) wasted coconut tree by-products go to the landfills.
Thanks to those who discovered the actual commercial uses of the coconut wood. It has found a market. We can also be grateful to the different governments for the stricter laws on logging.
Turning to coconut wood is an ecologically-sound move. The coconut trees are easy to replace. Its seedlings grow rapidly on a variety of soils. Harvesting it is also cheaper and convenient. You would not need to clear extra space in moving your equipment to and from the logging area. Each tree is planted considerably far apart from the other for productive purposes. The space in between a line of coconut trees is enough for a vehicle to pass through. And the straight and branchless trunk of the coconut would not get in the way of a passing vehicle.
Another advantage of the coconut wood is that its market price is way lower than the conventional hardwood.