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What is Spotted Gum Timber?

6 Dec 2020

The warm, wavy grains of Australian spotted gum timber make it an ideal choice for flooring in your home. It’s available in a myriad of colours, ranging from light greyish browns to rich reddish browns, which means it can seamlessly integrate into any setting. It’s perfect for relaxed coastal vibes, laidback bush settings, light-filled suburban remodels, and modern apartments.

Truth be told, this beautiful local hardwood is incredibly versatile, and is a great way to add texture to your home. Here, we answer some frequently asked questions to help your interior design journey.

1. Is spotted gum a eucalyptus?

Spotted gum, or eucalyptus maculata, is a tall tree known for having straight and blotched trunks. The bark strips unevenly every summer, meaning you can usually see patches of smooth, creamy new bark where the rugged, old white or grey bark has peeled back.

The best way to tell if it’s a eucalyptus, aside from the smell of oil in the leaves, is by looking around the base of the tree and seeing if the flowers have turned into woody gumnuts. These are actually the fruit of the tree, and they’re usually about 1cm in size. Meanwhile, the mottled bark is a sure sign you’re looking at a spotted gum. They provide lovely shade in the summer, and are a natural source of food and shelter for native wildlife such as koalas and sugar gliders.

2. Where does spotted gum grow?

This gorgeous timber is produced in a number of places along Australia’s east coast, from Victoria all the way up into Queensland, but the best plantations are found in the sandy soils of the New South Wales south coast. It’s a collective name used to describe four types of trees called “corymbias”:

  • Corymbia citriodora, which grows all the way to the Windsor Tableland in northern QLD
  • Corymbia citriodora variegata, which grows in northern NSW and southern QLD
  • Corymbia henryi, which grows in northern NSW
  • Corymbia maculata, which grows around Bega in southern NSW

They’re fair-weather trees, with low tolerance to frost, and are considered to be self-pruning. This means they create incredibly high-quality logs with a long, straight stem and a lovely colour.

Australian Spotted Gum Trees

3. What is spotted gum used for?

Spotted gum is a native hardwood that produces a wavy grain, which makes an extremely attractive polished veneer for use in interior decorating. It’s well suited to flooring, cabinetry, and surfaces. Unseasoned timber can be used to create beautiful design features, such as exposed framing or rustic exterior cladding. When it’s seasoned, however, it can be used to add high-quality finishes such as parquetry, which gives a luxe look to any new renovation. It’s also been named as an Australian Standard bushfire-rated timber, and is commonly used in window sills and other joinery.

The best thing about Australian spotted gum is that its warm feel instantly makes any space feel simultaneously chic and comfortable. It can be as much or as little of a feature as you like. For example, it can add extraordinary richness to Scandinavian-inspired designs, allowing lines to pop in contemporary settings, or bringing the outdoors indoors in open-plan living spaces.

4. Is spotted gum good for flooring?

Havwoods EP112 Spotted Gum Engineered Timber Flooring

It’s hard to find a flooring material better suited to Australia’s sometimes volatile climates than Australian spotted gum. This durable and dense timber is suitable for use anywhere from hot and humid climates to cold and dry climates. The best way to integrate it into your design is by choosing an engineered spotted gum flooring product, which combines the natural strength with a high-quality finish. This will provide a gorgeous aesthetic that’s easy to maintain.

Engineered spotted gum can be very quick to install, especially if you choose a product that has a square edge profile and fits together with a click system, because it can be simply put together and glued down. For maximum durability, consider a product that is matt lacquered, about 14 millimetres thick. This will ensure your floor looks gorgeous for many years to come.

5. Can you stain spotted gum flooring?

Engineered spotted gum flooring products can be stained, textured, oiled, or installed with a matt lacquered finish. This ensures that you can achieve a consistent look throughout your home, while highlighting the natural hues of the timber. Remember, Australian spotted gum can range in colour from light greyish to rich reddish browns, so staining it will ensure you achieve exactly the look you desire. It’s also a great way to tie your new flooring in with any existing furniture or fixtures.

6. Can spotted gum be used outdoors?

Besides interior uses, like flooring and cabinetry, spotted gum can also be used outdoors. Once it’s been seasoned, it can be used as a rustic cladding material for modern Australian builds. Around the house, it’s suitable for carving, woodturning, and manufacturing outdoor furniture. However, given its strength, and its natural resistance to pests like termites, you may also see it used for things like retaining walls, decking, and fencing. There’s really no limit to the ways this timber can be used!

If you are planning to use it outdoors, however, sealing it will significantly prolong its life. Look for a water-based decking oil and make sure the product penetrates deeply into the timber. You may have to apply a few coats to ensure it soaks in properly, before adding a protective layer on top.

Australian Spotted Gum Decking

7. Is spotted gum sustainable?

Spotted gum is harvested in New South Wales and Queensland, from both commercial plantations and native forests. It’s becoming increasingly popular in the forestry industry because it’s relatively resistant to both droughts and fires, and grows healthily with only natural rainfall.

Timber is much more sustainable to use than other building materials, such as vinyl flooring. The best part is there’s no limit to the number of times it can be reused and recycled, which means you can pick up second-hand pieces to create unique finishing touches. All you’ll need is an idea, some basic woodworking skills, and a little bit of elbow grease to create something fabulous.

An engineered spotted gum timber floor could be the solution for your renovation

Convinced Australian spotted gum flooring could be the solution for your renovation, DIY or project? Learn more about Havwoods’ engineered spotted gum flooring here.

You can request a free sample of our spotted gum product, or contact us for a virtual showroom appointment to discuss how spotted gum (or any Havwoods product) can transform your interior space. 

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