McKay Joinery

There's a world of timber species out there, with a range of colours, grains and physical properties, so how do you choose the right one for your doors and windows?

Sure, we're biased, but choosing timber for doors and windows is a no-brainer! It's a good thermal insulator, it's renewable and recyclable, it uses less energy to produce than other building materials, it stores carbon for life and, of course, it brings incomparable warmth. However, different timbers have different qualities, and a fair degree of subjectivity comes into play when specifying them too.

Comparing the appearance of different timbers

Comparing woodgrains: American white oak, Tasmanian oak, blackbutt and Victorian ash.

After seventy-odd years of working with all kinds of timber, we've settled on four key species that provide the best performance for doors and windows: kiln-dried hardwoods, Victorian ash and Tasmanian oak; western red cedar; and merbau. The hardwoods are pale-to-light brown with a pinkish tinge while the cedar varies from pale brown to dark brown, and are all incredibly durable. Merbau is yellowish to orange-brown when fresh and weathers to brown or a dark red-brown. We use it primarily for sills as it’s extremely hardwearing, and its darker tones hide the marks that come with foot traffic.

But those aren't the only timbers we use, and final selection sometimes comes down to customer or designer preference. Some of our other commonly used timbers include: blackbutt (pale brown, sometimes with a pinkish tinge, and another good option for sills, as it's so hardwearing); silvertop ash (pale- to medium-brown with a hint of pink, and providing excellent fire resistance); grey ironbark (varies from pale brown to dark chocolate brown and also dark red); accoya (an environmentally friendly solid wood with exceptional durability and dimensional stability); and American white oak (visually beautiful, with light-coloured sapwood and heartwood that's light to dark brown). Between all of these options, we can help you choose the best possible timber for your doors and windows.

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