Timber Wood -The types of timber wood exported from South Africa

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Timber Wood

Forestry in South Africa remains prosperous. In fact, there are many that produce timber wood within the country. It may surprise you to learn that a little over a handful of these timber plantations are actually owned by big companies. This means that only a few privately owned farms are responsible for ensuring that South Africa keeps its reputation intact as one of the most reputable exporters of timber wood on the African continent.

One such company is Sabie Poles from Mpumalanga. For 3 decades they have grown high-quality timber wood which is exported to clients all around the world. They are also proud to supply timber to SADC countries including Botswana, Namibia, Mauritius, and Mozambique.

If you work with timber on a regular basis, you will know that there are some different timber species out there. You cannot use the same type of wood for each project that comes to mind. Different timber wood types are not necessarily treated in the same way because they will not be used in the same way. Some types of timber like softwood trees are more appropriate for creating window frames and ceilings, while hardwood trees are perfect for hardwood flooring and decking.

What is timber and how is it different from wood or lumber?

This can confuse some people. The terms timber and wood are considered synonymous by many. However, you could still refer to wood when speaking of the hard material that makes up a tree. You would never refer to that as timber. Wood officially becomes known as timber once the tree has been cut down. In many countries timber is a bit of a blanket term. CCA treated poles as well as sawn products like decking and cladding can all be referred to as timber.

Sabie Poles Sustainable Forest Slider bg

Now, to make it even more confusing, they use another term in countries like the United States of America and Canada when speaking about sawn products. Those in the industry refer to sawn wood as lumber. At Sabie Poles we understand that it can get confusing. To ensure we meet our customers’ needs we always double-check that we know exactly what their expectations are when they place any timber wood or lumber order with us.

Different timber wood types you can order

Timber farming in South Africa produces various products suitable for export. And it is important that we do. There are a variety of timber wood types needed in the construction industry. Timber has become an extremely popular building material because it is strong, durable, environmentally friendly, and sustainable. With a greater need for more housing in SADC countries like Mozambique, it is no wonder that many are choosing timber wood as their building material of choice.

Grading Poles for treatment


This is a strong and versatile type of wood. It is quite readily available (more so than hardwood). Softwoods are also manipulated more easily than hardwoods. How does a certain type of timber get classified as softwood? It actually depends on the tree’s reproduction more than anything else. Cone bearing trees like redwoods, fir trees or pine trees are used to produce softwood. It is the perfect timber wood to use for doors or items of furniture. Its construction uses include being used for interior mouldings, stud partitions, windows and roof trusses.


An incredibly versatile material, hardwoods come from deciduous trees that have broad leaves that they lose each year. They are more resilient than softwoods so are mostly used for projects that call for an incredibly durable material. These trees also grow a lot slower than their softwood counterparts. Not only do hardwood trees take longer to grow, but they also take longer to dry. These factors drive up their price, making hardwood more costly than softwood. Meranti, Teak, Oak, walnut, maple, and Eucalyptus (also known as Gum) are examples of hardwood trees. Hardwoods do not need as much maintenance as softwoods and they also have some built-in resistance to the elements. Due to its cost hardwood is mostly used where it can be seen. It is a popular choice for creating beautiful hardwood flooring, building furniture, or even making toys that will last a lifetime.

Engineered wood

This is a kind of derivative wood product that is made in a factory. This is done by binding the particles or fibers of wood together using different methods. This type of timber wood could be stuck together using adhesives or some other kind of composite material. Engineered wood also goes by a few other names including composite wood, artificial wood, or manufactured board. In essence, it is made up of a mixture of hardwoods and softwoods. Popular examples of engineered wood include medium-density fiberboard (MDF), hardboard (HDF), and oriented strand board (OSB). Like all the other timber wood types engineered wood is also used in construction. This is a popular choice for building cupboards as well as for flooring but is much more expensive than pine or eucalyptus for instance.

Three main categories of timber at a glance

SoftwoodHardwoodEngineered wood
StrongStronger and very durableVery strong
More readily availableSlower growing so takes longer to replenish stocksProduced from offcuts and scraps so not as rare
More easily manipulatedDenser so not as easily manipulatedVery dense
Less costlyAffordableVery Expensive
Produced by cone bearing treesProduced by deciduous treesProduced in a factory by mixing softwood and hardwood with binding agents

Advantages of building with timber wood types

Wood remains an incredibly popular building material, particularly in SADC countries. This is part of the reason that timber farming in South Africa remains lucrative. In a world with many building material options timber has certainly firmly cemented its place as a solid choice. So why is it that construction companies continue to make use of timber to build houses?

Benefits of building with timber

Honestly wood is an incredible building material. Not only does it create a beautiful final product, but it also has other benefits. Although it is a lightweight material to build with, timber has amazing tensile strength. It has a better self-support length than that of steel!

Here are a few other benefits:

  • Creates a beautiful final product in construction.
  • Lightweight yet exhibits amazing tensile strength.
  • Better self-support length than steel.
  • Higher insulation rating, leading to improved energy efficiency and reduced heat loss or retention in homes.
  • Renewable resource, allowing for sustainable harvesting and replanting of trees.
  • Lower environmental impact compared to concrete or steel production, making it a more eco-friendly choice.
  • Naturally more resistant to electrical conduction when dried to appropriate moisture levels.
  • Exhibits good heat resistance, contributing to the stability of buildings.
  • Better sound absorption properties, reducing echoes in structures with timber components.

Each of the three main categories of timber that we discussed can be affected by termites, water damage, and fungus. But if you choose to source your timber wood from an experienced wood preserver and exporter like Sabie Poles you are assured of a quality product.

Timber preservation and farming in South Africa is very heavily regulated and that is why so many SADC countries choose us for their export wood needs. We do not only grow both softwood and hardwood trees but preserve them against the above-mentioned factors.

If you’re based in Southern Africa and you’re looking to import wood that falls into any of the three main categories of timber please contact us directly so we can discuss your order.

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