Timber is a big topic. Below you’ll find answers to the most frequent questions we receive, and others in helpful categories.

Most Asked Questions

We’re open from 6.30am to 4 pm, Mon-Fri.

Yes. Gowan Lea accepts direct deposit, Mastercard, Visa or cash.

Yes, we do our own deliveries throughout the Sunshine Coast and South-East Queensland and can arrange freight to anywhere else within Australia.

We prefer to quote each job. Prices from our suppliers change constantly, especially on imported products, so price lists quickly become out of date.  In addition, price is often determined by volume. If we have a feel for the size and complexity of the job we can price it accordingly.

Every job and situation is different. We see a lot of timber lists and some make more sense than others! We always like to ask a few questions first to make sure what we recommend and quote meets your needs and is suitable for its intended use. We find it’s best to start like that, rather than hand out price lists.

We generally only quote from timber lists, however, some of our suppliers will do take-offs for certain elements like floor systems, frames and trusses, fibre cement cladding, etc.

We also have access to qualified professional Estimators who will do detailed BOQ’s for a fee.

Yes.  If it’s just one or two lengths to fit them in your car, the yard staff will happily do this for you at no charge. If it’s more than this, including large commercial docking projects, there is a docking fee. Please note this is not precision docking, so a variation of +/- 1mm can be expected. If a higher accuracy than this is required, it is best done on-site.

Yes, we can put you in contact with some reputable tradespeople in your area.

We can give you an estimate of weight, but we are not transport engineers so can’t advise if your vehicle/trailer/racks can safely carry that weight.  There are QLD Transport Department laws regarding allowable overhangs and all loads must be properly secured.  We have a duty of care to ensure that we do not load, or allow a vehicle to leave with a load that we consider is unsafe, illegal or not secured properly.  If in the opinion of our staff, what you are proposing to carry on your vehicle is unsafe, we cannot load you.  In these cases, we can help you to resolve the issue by delivering it for you, splitting the load over two trips, maybe cutting it into shorter lengths, etc. It doesn’t matter if you’re “just going around the corner,” we cannot load you or allow your vehicle to leave the yard in an unsafe matter.

Building decks close to ground (within 300-400mm), whether over concrete or soil, needs careful consideration to ensure their long-term performance.  We probably see more problems with this than any other aspect of building. Seriously.

The short answer is that the key factors are good design, good drainage & ventilation, careful timber selection and good ongoing maintenance.

Yes. We specialise in helping people select suitable timber for any project.  First we need details of what you have in mind – the look you want (colour, texture, etc) and the situation (internal / external, aspect etc).  Once we understand what you want, we can turn your vision into a reality and ensure that the timber you get will perform its job and look great for years to come.

Timber care: getting the ‘look’ you want

Yes. We suggest a high-quality Cutek Extreme (clear).  We recommend one coat all round prior to delivery, then a final coat on-site after construction and clean-up.  A coloured tint can be applied to the final coat as well.

That depends on a few things, but primarily how you want your timber to look and how much it is exposed to the weather (sun, rain etc).  If you want the freshly oiled look and your deck is exposed, you will be re-coating it at least once a year, regardless of what coating you use.  More protected decks might only need re-coating every 2-3 years.  When the timber starts to change colour and stops beading water is a good indicator that it’s ready for a re-coat.

We recommend a quality penetrating oil like Cutek, rather than film forming coatings as we find they are much easier to re-apply and do not crack or flake away if you don’t keep up with the re-coats.

Many species with oily or high resin content like Merbau, Spotted Gum etc are difficult to oil when new, and many oil manufacturers recommend letting new timber weather for a month or two prior to oiling for best results.

Timber bleeding refers to the leaching of tannins, resins etc from new timber.  This can be unsightly, especially if the timber is installed over concrete, tiles etc. which can be extensively stained. With very few exceptions, all hardwood will bleed the first few times it is exposed to water (rain, hosing, etc).  Some are worse than others (Merbau is the worst), but they will all do it to some extent. It makes no difference if the timber is new or old, kiln-dried or unseasoned.  Obviously, lighter coloured hardwoods like Blackbutt will bleed less.  Pacific Jarrah is the only non-bleed KD species that is commercially available in various sizes / quantities.

As to what you can do about it, the simple answer is “not much”.  It is part of the natural weathering process. The tannins and resins have to come out sooner or later if the timber is outdoors.  Pre-oiling will help, but not prevent it.  You can accelerate the process by hosing every few days and there are commercial, acid-based cleaners that will strip some out quickly and help clean up any staining.  Usually, after a few months (depending on rainfall etc), it will be mostly gone. Then is the best time to apply an oil as the timber will readily absorb it.

‘Greying’ or ‘Silvering’ off is the natural weathering process of timber whereby the tannins, resins etc are gradually leached and washed out of uncoated, new timber (see the question on timber ‘bleeding’). The degree and speed that it happens depends on the amount of exposure to sun and rain the timber gets, so it’s not uncommon to have the exposed half of your deck grey off within six months, but the other protected half to take much longer.

All uncoated timber will grey off if left exposed to the weather, but some handle it better than others.  Coatings like paint and decking oils are a bit like sunscreen for your timber – they protect it from the worst effects of prolonged exposure to the elements.  Leaving timber un-coated and letting it grey off may look nice and beachy, but will significantly shorten its lifespan and usually result in premature cracking, cupping, splintering etc.

But if you love the grey look of weathered timber, then the first thing to do is select a species that has the best chance of coping with Timber Abuse!  High quality, Durability Class 1 species like Spotted Gum, Ironbark, Tallowwood, Merbau, White Mahogany, Accoya, etc. are all good choices.

The other recommended strategy is to apply a product like Cutek Extreme (clear – no colour tint) which will absorb into the timber and do its job, but allow the top couple of millimetres to grey off.  This is the best of both worlds – you get the weathered look, but still protect your timber.  Cutek also has a couple of ‘milky’ wash tints available which can help blend areas with different exposure / weathering rates.

If you’re not walking on, touching, or relying on the timber for water-proofing, a bit of rustic weathering with associated character is usually not a problem.  We do lots of exposed timber privacy or shade screens that are never touched and grow old gracefully, but you need to make sure you get the species and size right so it stands the test of time.

There are many different types and levels of timber preservative treatment. Most are completely safe to use at home with a few simple precautions like using dust masks when cutting or sanding, washing your hands afterwards and not burning any off-cuts.  Once installed these products pose no risk to your family or pets.  Painting or oiling treated timber can also be done to give you further piece of mind.

CCA treated timber however can no longer be used for applications where people will come into regular contact with it such as decking, handrails, seats etc.  It is also not recommended for use in food or animal production.  CCA treated timber is still commonly supplied for fencing and landscape timbers and is completely suitable for this purpose.

The unseasoned hardwood from our mill (structural and landscape grades) is treated at our own non-CCA treatment plant.  It is a copper-based treatment and approved for use in all applications such as playgrounds, schools, food and animal production, decking and flooring etc.

We can also provide untreated timber for outdoor use, but only a couple of species are suitable.

Read our useful article here for more info about timber preservatives.

Calculating Quantities You Require

In a nutshell, we are not engineers or building certifiers, so cannot provide detailed advice for this.  We do however have access to computer programs that will provide general information for simple applications and can also provide you with Span Tables which can also assist.  For any structural application, advice should be sought from a qualified builder or engineer.

Simply you start with the square metres required and divide by the size of the board (in metres).  So for a 50m2 deck using a 140mm board it is 50/.140 = 357m plus waste and any trims, fascias etc.  How much waste depends on a few factors but allowing five to ten percent is a good start.

Questions about our timber range

Yes.  New builds or extensions close to natural bushland are sometimes required by councils to be designed and constructed to meet certain Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) ratings.  This will often determine what types of timbers can be used – most construction timbers in Australia have been tested to determine their BAL ratings.

Most of the hardwood that we supply is the hardest and most fire resistant around.  Species like Spotted Gum, Ironbark, Merbau, Blackbutt, etc. are all suitable for use up to BAL 29.

Of course, building design is also critical to reduce your risk of Bushfire attack.

There are a few decisions to make that will narrow down your choices considerably.  These are completely subjective and come down to your personal taste:

  1. Colour (species)
  2. Size
  3. Grade
  4. Engineered v Solid Timber

Questions about our timber range & wood machining

We do sell Spotted Gum and Ironbark. Having our own sawmill, hardwood is in our DNA and still our specialty, but we can source any commercially-available species of timber and all other building products including engineered timber, fibre cement, cladding, flooring plywood, doors, hardware, etc. Review our products online, drop us an email or give us a call to discuss your needs.

We have our own planing and machining shed on-site so we can handle most of your timber dressing and profiling jobs.  If we don’t have the cutters for the particular profile you need, we can get some made, or see if any of our partners have them.  We usually dress timber that we supply, but we do on occasion undertake custom dressing of timber supplied to us – providing it is in as new condition, as dirt, stones, staples, nails, etc can cause costly damage to our equipment.  Some material is also too variable in thickness or excessively bowed or twisted and cannot be machined.  For these reasons, we do not machine recycled or second-hand material.

Most of our kiln dried decking comes to us in random length packs with pieces from 1.0m-5.4m long. This material is generally sold as random only as it’s difficult and time consuming to pull these packs apart and pull out all the 3.6m lengths, for example.  If it’s only a few you need, we are normally able to help, but larger set-length KD decking orders are usually not possible.

However, some suppliers can do set-lengths in certain species and sizes, but this is subject to availability and generally dearer.  Let us know what you need and we’ll ring around and see what’s available.

Commercial decking from our mill is the exception as it can be cut and dressed to order. It will be unseasoned though, which means it will shrink a little, but being mostly Spotted Gum and Ironbark, is still highly durable. This product comes in a variety of sizes and is usually used in more ‘rustic’ applications like boardwalks, jetties, garage floors, garden walkways, etc.

Hardwood screening products like 42×19, 70×19 etc are generally more readily available in set-lengths.

For large quantities of similar-sized timber that has been properly air-dried first, yes we typically can. Please enquire.

Well, timber is a natural product, which means it’s naturally variable. If you need gun-barrel straight, we hear that steel is pretty good! Seriously though, if you tell us what you are using it for and what you need, we will do our best to accommodate you.  To get a bit technical, terms like ‘Appearance Grade’ and ‘Select Grade’ etc. help us determine what grade of timber you need for the job. These terms usually relate to the frequency of natural features like knots, gum vein, etc, but if it’s straightness you need for whatever reason, just let us know.

The amount of natural feature desired is also a very personal thing – some people love a more rustic look with lots of natural features and character, others prefer a more ‘clean’ look.

It also helps if you tell us what will be seen.  For example, if you need feature timber to cover a steel post where only one side and two edges will be seen, tell us that and we can select pieces accordingly.  Or, if you need a perfectly straight bearer, but you’re not worried about what it looks like, as it won’t be seen, tell us that. There’s no point paying for a perfect piece that no one will see when all you need is straight!

The more information you can give us about what you like and how the timber is to be used, the better we can meet your needs.

Yes, we can and this is done by selecting a suitable species.  Timber is generally broadly divided into colour groups of Blonde, Brown, Red and Mixed and there are species that generally fall into each of these groups.  You will still get natural variation in colour within a species, but this is relatively limited.

Some species like Spotted Gum however can be very variable in colour, but generally within the Brown group.  For example, with Spotted Gum you would expect to get everything from pale to mid to dark chocolate brown and this is why it never seems to go out of date as it tends to match any décor.  Other species are much less variable, but you should still expect some natural variation.

The only thing we can’t do is select colour preferences within a species, for example, provide Spotted Gum, but only the dark ones.

If you have a question we haven’t answered here or on our latest insights, please contact us.