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I am searching for the 'fire rating' of American white oak. And am keen to learn if it meets Australian Standards

Woodsolutions Answer +

FWPA has sponsored fire testing on a range of timbers including American white oak. Note the typographical error – it’s actually Quercus alba, not Quercus abla. This and other fire test reports can be found on our website here: https://www.woodsolutions.com.au/articles/fire-test-reports


I'm designing a floating staircase and I'm after some advice on what timber to use for the treads. The design is such that the timber will be constructed like a sleeve to fit over the steel structure of the treads. So the timber needs to be durable of course. We're after a more pale timber rather than a rich deep colour. An Australian species would be preferable. And something cost effective would also be desirable. And lastly it would need to be reasonably readily available - although I would be happy to provide plenty of leeway to order it.

Can you please suggest any timbers that you think would fit this bill?

Woodsolutions Answer +

Most of our Australian hardwoods tend towards the darker colours. Tasmanian oak/Vic ash is in the lighter colour range, but not as hard as some timbers. If you are designing a commercial building we suggest a harder species, perhaps spotted gum. The colour varies somewhat, but presumably you need a fairly small quantity so you might be able to persuade a supplier to pick out the lighter pieces for your job. If the treads are to be a U-shape make sure they don’t fit tightly where the front and back edges wrap around the steel, ie. leave a few millimetres between timber and steel in case of shrinkage. Presumably the treads will be fixed by screwing from underneath. It helps if the back row of screws can be fitted in slotted or oversize holes, while the screws in the front row are fitted tight to keep a constant line. The timber must be kiln-dried, but there may still be slight shrinkage with changes in the seasons and/or prolonged exposure to air conditioning. Using screws  with washers in slightly oversize holes holds the treads down but allows for some minor sliding movement at the back of the tread.


I am building a pergola and am unsure whether River Redgum would be suitable. Would maintenance be easy, and is it a durable timber in the open weather? Also, could you reccomend a supplier and an approximate price per meter?

Woodsolutions Answer +

River red gum is quite a durable timber – Class 1 above ground, exposed to the weather, and Class 2 in ground contact. You should check whether it’s available ‘seasoned’ (kiln-dried or air dried), or only unseasoned. If unseasoned, some shrinkage and surface splits can be expected as it dries out which may be acceptable for a rustic look. Alternatively, seasoned timber will be more stable in service. To find out the price per metre you will need to contact some suppliers. The listing on our website may be helpful – click on this link: https://www.woodsolutions.com.au/suppliers.

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