What Is Rubberwood Furniture?

Rubberwood furniture is crafted in factories overseas and exported to the United States. Typically sold in big-box stores, rubberwood furniture may cost 10 percent to 25 percent less than than other hardwood products. A byproduct of rubber plantations in Brazil and other tropical regions, rubberwood is considered eco-friendly. Older trees are harvested when they fail to produce sufficient latex for rubber.

Couple Sitting on the Floor of a Living Room Building Flat pack Furniture
credit: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images
Rubberwood furniture is also marketed in kits.

Not Rubbery

Rubberwood, also referred to as plantation hardwood, para rubbertree or parawood, is a distant cousin of domestic maple. With a density rating of 960, on the Janka hardness scale, it ranks below maple, which has a rating of 1,450, and is comparable to domestic black cherry. Rubberwood twists, warps, expands and contracts without proper seasoning, making the export of raw lumber difficult. Rubberwood furniture has been cured to a specific moisture level and typically finished with lacquer when it arrives in the United States.

Furniture Properties

Rubberwood is perishable and has little resistance to rot, decay and insects. It must be treated with sealers for outdoor use. Rubberwood furniture is comparable with other hardwoods for durability when finished with lacquer, paint or other topcoat products for indoor use. Because of the high-utilization practices of foreign mills, small sections of rubberwood are often edge-glued to make panels, resulting in finger-joint patterns on rubberwood furniture. Grayish streaks on rubberwood furniture, similar to what you might find on oak, are caused by fungus or minerals and typically have no effect on the furniture's application.

Easy to Maintain

Keep rubberwood furniture dry, and wipe up spills immediately to avoid a milky appearance caused when lacquer gets wet. Avoid placing it in the path of humidifiers, cooling or heating vents. Don't allow rubberwood furniture to remain in direct sunlight for long periods of time to prevent bleaching and drying out.

The Color of Rubberwood

Rubberwood furniture is light cream in color without stain, medium in density and has subtle grain patterns. Although the wood may be finished with polyurethane or varnish, lacquer is used the majority of the time to keep costs down. Maintain rubberwood furniture by cleaning it with a dampened cloth.

Other Rubberwood Components

Asian plywood may be used in conjunction with rubberwood furniture. Sometimes marketed as whitewood or blondewood, this type of imported plywood is affordable and typically manufactured with any number of veneers, which may or may not originate from a rubberwood tree.