When looking around for timber fencing and gates, Merbau is often the first product you encounter. As one of the cheapest materials available, it is no wonder it is so popular.
However, there are many factors that need to be considered in determining the total cost of your fencing and gates before you rush in. For example, there are different grades of Merbau, and in general you get what you pay for. It is not uncommon for the cheaper grades of Merbau to be warped and display many of the timber's natural imperfections such as knotholes. If you want to avoid such issues, you can expect to pay approximately double for the select grade.
Installing timber fencing and gates is a time-consuming and labour-intensive activity. A tradesperson is usually required for the job, costing up to four times more than the timber itself.
Once the fence is installed, the timber needs to be pre-treated, which is a three or four stage process. First, the timber must be cleaned thoroughly with a timber cleaning product in order to remove excess tannins and oils from the timber and prepare the surface for painting. Next, the fence needs be primed with one or two coats of a high quality product, such as Intergrain 4. Then the final coat is applied, offering UV and water protection. Altogether, these products can add up to $20 per square metre to the price of the fence, not to mention the cost of your time.
This process must be repeated on a regular basis in order to prolong the life of your timber fence and prevent weathering as much as possible. The general consensus is that the more often you re-stain your merbau fence, the longer it will last. Many recommend sanding back the timber and applying several coats of a stain or oil every six months. However there is still the well-known issue with Merbau fencing that the tannins leach when wet and stain the ground below.
Finally, the cost to the environment is one which cannot be put into a monetary figure. Most Merbau is largely sourced from Indonesian rainforests, endangering animal species through the destruction of their habitats and food sources.
You can seek out timbers that have been certified by genuine environmental bodies, or alternatively you can opt for timber-look aluminium products which do not threaten biodiversities and never need painting or staining. DecoWood is a wood grain powder coating on aluminium that is ideal for fencing, gates and privacy screens as it is durable even when exposed to harsh weather conditions such as direct sunlight over long periods of time.
The technology used to make DecoWood look and feel so similar to natural timber has been tried and tested in Europe for two decades, and complies with all Australian and international standards for quality. DecoWood also has a lower installed cost than timber once you take into account the installation, maintenance and durability costs involved with products such as Merbau. Not only do you save money, you also free up your weekends to do the things you love to do.