Meranti Wood Dangers: Advantages vs Teak vs Mahogany

Woman holding up two pieces of wood wonders about meranti wood use and how meranti vs mahogany vs teak wood compares, and how to use meranti hardwood and is meranti wood waterproof?

Meranti wood is a famous hardwood known for its versatility and ease of application. However, there are some “dangers” of using it, in specific applications.

Made from a combination of about 200 rainforest trees in the family of Dipterocarpaceae, Meranti wood is produced from Shorea genus trees.

Yet, when considering it’s use versus other hardwoods like mahogany and teak, the advantages to the planet outweigh the issues connected to Meranti wood.

However, considering the current status of Mahogany and teak wood (classified as endangered), Meranti wood is often a great substitute, helping to preserve these other hardwoods…as long as the choice is one of the species that are not critically threatened.

About 100 species of Shorea trees are critically endangered and another 50 critically endangered, especially yellow Meranti wood. But many species are plentiful and make a great substitution for other hardwoods.

When weighing between the three and trying to find how Meranti wood performs in comparison, the best place to start is to check the pros and cons against the other hardwoods.1



Meranti wood image in an oval frame on green background.
  • Family: Dipterocarpaceae
  • Native Locations: Southeast Asia
  • Leaves: Large, oval shaped
  • Flowers: Various colors and large petals

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Ranking

Critically Endangered


Image Credit: Porsche-Makus18

This guide explains why Meranti wood is a good substitution for endangered Teak or Mahogany, and the processes needed to make it as durable and weather resistant.

Meranti vs Teak Wood

Meranti wood, or Philippine mahogany, is an exotic plant species gaining more fame for its deep red and high-quality purplish wood.

Its form resembles the expensive wood types, making it a top choice for designing fantastic furniture and other exquisite woodwork finishes.

Advantages and disadvantages of Meranti wood for use graphic.

On the other hand, teak is a luxurious ultimate standard for perfect outdoor furniture thanks to its stability and water resistance.11

It has oils that repel the water and protects it from damage, and the dense grain structure makes it durable.3

Stacked wooden cups made of Teak wood.

(Image: Zaishere13)

Therefore, teak beats Meranti in matters of water resistance and sturdiness, making it the better alternative for wood projects, especially for the outdoors. For Meranti, proper care and maintenance are the only ways to secure it from water damage.

However, high performance means a heavy price tag, and you can expect teak to cost relatively more than Meranti. It is also crucial to be careful of cheap teak because, in most cases, it is usually low quality.

Plus, these other woods are listed as endangered, and it’s important to protect them from complete extinction.

Where Does the Name Philippine Mahogany Come From?

Marketers commonly refer to Meranti wood as Philippine mahogany, but interestingly, the wood is not actual mahogany.2 The name doesn’t imply its species or origin country.

It is a unique tree species from Southeast Asia, but sellers call it the Philippine mahogany (a popular wood) to improve sales. Mahogany was quite popular decades ago, leading to its excessive harvesting, and sadly, you cannot find it today.

In comparison, Meranti is better quality in terms of exterior grading despite Philippine mahogany being a popular brand name and widely used in the boating industry. Besides, it is more vulnerable to insects and rotting and requires heavy coating before usage, unlike the quality Meranti wood.

Features of Meranti Marine Plywood

Meranti is a special formulation that makes high-performance marine-grade wood, which is handy in various carpentry jobs, creating everything from tiny boats to yachts.

It is a high-grade, low-cost plywood that applies to other woodwork projects. The sheet comes in 4 by 8-inch sizes of 9 and 12-mm thicknesses unless under the manufacturer’s customization.

This material has gained more fame with boat builders since it is cheaper than Okoume plywood. Its veneers make plywood, paneling, and hollow doors, while the wood can make framing and beautiful furniture.

Meranti vs Mahogany

Mahogany and Meranti are two important hardwood species for furniture and other wood projects, thanks to their amazing appearance and performance.4 Many confuse Meranti with a mahogany breed, given that it is popularly known as Philippine mahogany, but in reality, the two are distinct wood types.

They are only similar in wood color, featuring dark to reddish brown shades, although Meranti also takes other hues like pale pink. In contrast, mahogany is more durable and resistant to harsh weather and termite attacks than Meranti.5

Additionally, while Meranti comes from Southeastern Asia, mahogany is mostly found in Latin American forests. Lastly, due to its features, mahogany is more in demand and more expensive than Meranti.

Types of Wood Used to Make Meranti Furniture

Meranti wood can fall into either of the four groups below based on origin and features.

1. Dark Red Meranti

Also called the Lauan, this wood can be dark red or purplish with white resin marks and a coarse feel.

It is native to Malaysia and Indonesia and is generally easy to use with moderate durability.

2. Light Red Meranti

This wood type takes a paler brown and has a straight grain, but it is not very durable, susceptible to insects.

It is also effortless to use and looks better after finishing.

3. White Meranti

This variety is lightweight, hence not suitable for heavy construction work. It is paler than the light red type and has a straight or interlocked structure with a course feel.

4. Yellow Meranti

More than 33 Meranti species fall under the yellow variety, featuring lightweight and durable wood.

It takes yellow to yellowish brown shades, although it gets darker with age.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Meranti Wood

Meranti wood has downsides like any other wood species despite its amazing qualities. Let’s start by looking at its upsides.

Advantages of Meranti Wood

Here are some of the advantages of using Meranti wood.

Natural, Beautiful Color

Meranti is one of the most attractive woods, and an upside is that it comes in various shades, from dark red to purplish brown. The finishing also looks amazing with its smooth, uniform look.

Dulling Effect

Meranti has a particular silica amount in the wood due to its dulling impact on the equipment used in the project.

Moderate Durability

Although meranti is not as resilient as teak or mahogany, it is quite stable and durable enough for use in the marine industry and the construction of indoor and outdoor wood projects.

Readily Available

One of the upsides of using Meranti is that it is widely manufactured, and you can easily find it at an affordable price, unlike mahogany and teak, which are more expensive.

Resistance to Warping

Meranti is a stable hardwood that doesn’t warp or twist from uneven moisture content; therefore, suitable for outdoor use.

Dimensional Stability

The wood has the unique feature of maintaining its measurements even when exposed to humidity or other weather changes.

Easy of Work

Hardwoods are usually tough to work with, but Meranti is relatively easy, thanks to its good density.

Disadvantages of Meranti Wood

Here is the list of some of the disadvantages of using Meranti wood:

No Rot and Weather Resistance

The main disadvantage of Meranti wood is that it is not as weather resistant as other hardwoods like mahogany and teak.

Regardless of being a member of the Shorea species, it doesn’t do well under climate, weather, and temperature changes unless you apply a sealant as a protective cover.6

Vulnerability to Insects

Insects easily attack Meranti wood, damaging it by nibbling and laying eggs inside.

Unlike types of cedar trees, it doesn’t have natural bug-repellant properties, making it unsuitable for outdoor projects unless you treat it with special chemicals.

High Maintenance

Meranti requires regular maintenance due to its poor density and durability, unlike mahogany and teak.

It rates 3 570 N on the wood hardiness scale, hence softer and less dense unless you apply a finisher as protection at least once a year.

Less Strength and Durability

Given that it is not as sturdy as other hardwoods, Meranti is unsuitable for massive building projects or general heavy-duty use; otherwise, the wood can easily damage under pressure.

African Teak Wood and Red Meranti Wood: What Is the Difference?

African teak wood is generally hardier, stronger, and more durable than red Meranti wood. The two hardwoods are both high quality, but the teak has a sturdier structure, higher density, and overall higher performance than the softer and less dense Meranti.

The African teak is also more resistant to drastic weather changes and overexposure to moisture.

It doesn’t need as much maintenance as the red Meranti, which requires an additional protective sealant layer from the elements and insect attacks.

Is Meranti Suitable for Outdoor Use?

You can use Meranti wood outdoors after properly treating or finishing it with a sealant; otherwise, it is not durable enough to withstand harsh conditions.7 A sealant is the best way to cover it and improve its lifespan.

The coat protects it from humidity, excessive moisture, strong UV light, unpredictable weather variations, and other generally harsh conditions outdoors. Apart from the finisher, you may also need to practice proper care and maintenance to keep your wood safe.

You can use Meranti wood for outdoor projects like patio furniture, deck flooring, and windows. However, it is not ideal for fencing due to excessive moisture exposure through the ground.

How Sustainable Is Growing Meranti Wood?

The production of most products in the modern world is usually unsustainable, but growing trees is different.

For instance, growing Meranti for its wood in tropical forests is very sustainable given that it contributes to carbon sequestration and the tree helps in carbon storage.8

A group of mahogany trees in the forest

(Image: 342276315)

On the downside, harvesting Meranti wood is less sustainable considering that the species population is gradually diminishing, and so is the natural habitat for wildlife.

High-quality wood is in high demand worldwide, leading to illegal logging and other non-environmentally friendly practices, especially in tropical forests.

Its population has drastically reduced by around 80%, explaining why the Union for Conservation of Nature has placed 148 Shorea species (from the Meranti family) on the red list.12

Additionally, harvesting Meranti wood threatens wildlife habitats, leading to the dwindling of plant and animal life.

How Sustainable Is Manufacturing of Meranti Wood?

Wood is more sustainable to create and manufacture, and here’s how sustainable Meranti wood is.

Using it on your woodwork projects usually has a low carbon footprint because the waste from production can make other by-products like biomass pellets.

A large quantity of wood pellets.

(Image: Sam892716)

This way, the emissions from harvesting and manufacturing are offset. The process entails first chopping down the trees and using diesel or electrical energy for the sawing, which varies based on the wood species and the particular sawmill.

Next is drying the lumber and converting it to furniture; while using a kiln running on fossil fuels requires energy and leads to carbon emissions, sun drying is better for the environment.

Alternatively, using wood waste to power kilns makes the manufacture more sustainable.

How Can You Buy Meranti Wood More Sustainably?

If you want to buy wood sustainably, you need to follow certain environmental certification guidelines such as the following.

1. Forest Stewardship Council

This certification checks that the wood you buy is from a forest under responsible management that is mindful of the environment and gives back socially and economically.

2. Program for Endorsement of Forest Certification

This organization’s goal is to that the forests are under sustainable management and protect all the local and global forests for the population.

How Sustainable Is Growing of Meranti Wood?

The carbon footprint of timber is one of the lowest, considering that planting trees has a positive impact on the environment. Growing Meranti wood is; therefore, very sustainable since the timber helps in carbon sequestration and storage.

However, harvesting and manufacturing it are not environmentally friendly due to the use of energy and diminishing of the tree species and wildlife habitat.

Is Meranti Wood Water Resistant?

Unfortunately, Meranti wood is not resistant to water, therefore, is vulnerable to water damage after excessive exposure. Moisture can easily seep inside the porous layers, making the wood gradually rot and eventually deteriorate.

If you want to improve its water resistance, the only way around it is to apply a sealant or finishing layer, which is moisture repellant.9 This seal effectively prevents the water from penetrating the wood layers and, in turn, increases Meranti’s durability.

Wet, wood pier at night with view from the deck of the pier with the railings on the sides created from large square beams in x-brace formation.

(Image: Alfcermed17)

It is crucial when using wood for outdoor furniture like patio seats and tables or deck flooring where there is a lot of exposure to the elements. The sealant will protect the wood from harsh weather like rain, snowfall, and excessive humidity.

Does Meranti Wood Rot?

Meranti wood is vulnerable to rotting, given that it is not water resistant. The moisture seeps inside the structure and accumulates, causing it to rot gradually and finally decay. The only way to prevent this is to apply a sealing coat on the woodwork.

It is an effective protective layer that shields the wood from direct contact with moisture. Meranti can be more durable and maintain its amazing look with other care and maintenance methods.

If your furniture or flooring is rotting, you can restore it by removing the affected areas, replacing them with new wood, and sealing the top part.

How Does Free Tree Removal in Exchange for Wood Work?

Free tree removal in exchange for wood is the most cost-effective way to go since you don’t have to hire a company to remove it and pay for the service. Interested parties can come to your home and remove any tree in your yard in exchange for the wood.

Free tree removal services are available from private or public institutions based on your location and the tree in question. You can always check if your area has such bodies and have them remove a dangerous tree from your home at no cost.

What Are the Grades of Marine Plywood?

There are four main grades of marine plywood. The A-A grade is ½ inch thick and comes in 4 by 8 or 5 by 12 feet pieces, while grade A-B comes in the same dimensions but is ¾ inch thick.

There is also the B-B grade plywood, Medium-Density Overlay (MDO) with high resin content and thermosetting fiber, and high-quality High-Density Overlay

What Is the Hardest Wood in the World?

You can quantify wood’s hardness using the Janka rating, the industry’s standard measurement that checks the resistance to denting or wearing. This rate is usually based on the wood grain and is in pounds-force (lbf).

The Australian Buloke, an ironwood native to Australia, is the world’s hardest wood, with an impressive Janka rating of 5,060 lbf.

Is Meranti Wood Toxic?

Luckily, Meranti wood is safe to use for all your exterior and interior projects. However, as with any other wood, it is best to be cautious when using it to avoid contact with dust particles during handling.

The dust can cause skin and eye irritation. Therefore, woodworkers wear goggles and gloves and have dust collection pipes to eliminate the particles immediately after they release into the air, avoiding further accumulation.

It also helps to use a well-ventilated room to avoid breathing complications, especially if you have underlying conditions. The wood may be safe, but the particles caused by using it to make furniture and other woodwork are not safe.

Is Meranti a Good Guitar Tonewood?

You can use Meranti for your house’s woodwork projects, but it is also handy in constructing guitars. Guitar anatomy consists of many wooden parts, and the wood type you choose for the body, fretboard, and neck determines the instrument’s overall playability and tone.10

A luthier making a wood guitar.

(Image: Endriqstudio14)

Meranti is a cheaper wood alternative for basses and guitars since it is readily available, but it is not the top choice if going for tone. It is sturdy and lightweight, ideal for the body, but its tone is typically neutral, and many find it too soft for fretboards and necks.

If you love hardwood furniture and finishes, consider using Meranti, a stunning wood type that comes in various shades based on your needs. It has a dulling effect, is readily available, resistant to warping, and generally easier to use.

It is cheaper than other species like teak and mahogany, but in contrast, it is less high-quality. It is not resistant to rotting and insects and is quite high maintenance since you must apply a protective sealant.

Meranti wood may be less durable or resistant to various conditions like mahogany and teak, but it is cheaper, versatile, and looks fantastic regardless of the project.

Frequently Asked Questions About Meranti Wood

How Much Weight Can Plywood Hold?

To those asking how much weight can plywood hold, a 12 by 36 inch ¾ plywood can effortlessly support 50 pounds without bending or breaking, but a ¼ inch plywood of the same dimensions cannot support as much weight, holding about 5 pounds before the weight overpowers it.

All plywood types usually handle 5-50 pounds depending on their thickness; the thicker the material, the stronger it is and the more weight it can carry.


1The State of Queensland. (2018, December 12). Meranti. Business Queensland. Retrieved January 4, 2023, from <>

2Mcilvain, G. (2022, April 22). Meranti Is the New & Improved Philippine Mahogany. Ipe Outlet. Retrieved January 4, 2023, from <>

3Geary, A. (2022). Comparing Wood Types for Outdoor Furniture. Sundaze Decor. Retrieved January 4, 2023, from <>

4Jacobs, D. F. (2006, March). Importance of Hardwood Tree Plantings. Purdue University Extension. Retrieved January 4, 2023, from <>

5WOOD Magazine Staff. (2017, May 1). Meranti. WOOD Magazine. Retrieved January 4, 2023, from <>

6Parker, W. (2022, October 22). 6 Main Disadvantages Of Meranti Wood. Wood Workly. Retrieved January 4, 2023, from <>

7Adler, L. R. (1995, September). Wood Finishing Stains, Sealers, and Fillers. UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. Retrieved January 4, 2023, from <>

8Nguyen, Q. (2023). How Sustainable Is Meranti Wood? Here Are the Facts. Impactful Ninja. Retrieved January 4, 2023, from <>

9Hawks, L. K. (1995). Finishing. Utah State University Extension. Retrieved January 4, 2023, from <>

10Musicians Institute. (2018, November 1). Learn The Anatomy Of A Guitar. College of Contemporary Music. Retrieved January 4, 2023, from <>

11Wikipedia. (2023). Teak. Wikipedia. Retrieved January 4, 2023, from <>

12Wikipedia. (2023). International Union for Conservation of Nature. Wikipedia. Retrieved January 4, 2023, from <>

13Zaishere. Pixabay. Retrieved January 4, 2023, from <>

14Endriqstudio. Pixabay. Retrieved January 4, 2023, from <>

153422763. Pixabay. Retrieved January 4, 2023, from <>

16Sam8927. Pixabay. Retrieved January 4, 2023, from <>

17Alfcermed. Pixabay. Retrieved January 4, 2023, from <>

18Meranti Furnier Photo by Porsche-Makus. (2015, January 11) / CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED | Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International. Cropped and added text, shape, and background elements. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved February 6, 2024, from <>