What Wood Is Used In Shipbuilding?

What Wood Is Used In Shipbuilding - Merchant Navy Info - News

Ships have been a very integral part of human civilization for centuries, dating back to ancient Egypt. Shipbuilding Woods was the preferred construction material for boat construction because of its availability and durability. Although shipyards are switching to other processes, wood still plays an important role in the maritime industry. With so many types available, manufacturers have countless options at their disposal. Information on lumber for shipbuilding.

What Is The Most Common Wood For Shipbuilding?

Shipyards around the world have relied on wood for centuries, and the type of wood needed varies based on location, infrastructure, and preference. Here are eight of the most common types of wood for ships.


Teak is one of the best woods for Shipbuilding Woods due to its durability. Native to South Asia, the teak tree grows in hardwood forests and is known for its leathery scent. Most of the world’s teak comes from India, with 66,000 pieces shipped each year to the United States, Britain and other countries, experts said. However, due to cultivation in these regions, there are also exports from Africa and the Caribbean. Shipyards use teak wood for its tensile strength and durability. 

A 2022 Materials Today study found that teak wood has a tensile strength of 71.15 megapascals, proving its natural strength. Additionally, teak is easy to process and is a sustainable option for shipyards. Boats are exposed to sun and salt water every day, and teak is more resistant to corrosion than other woods. Teak boat crews have been a popular choice for centuries because they are less susceptible to rot and insect damage. Teak wood is still available in traditional boats in Indonesia and elsewhere.


Teak can be expensive for shipyards due to high demand and relatively low supply. Mahogany is a natural alternative due to its low availability. Because it is lightweight and relatively inexpensive, it is a wood that is often used for ships and furniture. A 2021 IOP Science study investigated the quality of laminated mahogany compared to teak wood and found that it met minimum requirements for tensile and flexural strength. 

Therefore, fishing boats can use mahogany for shipbuilding. Mahogany is often chosen for ocean-going vessels because it can withstand the sanitizing conditions of seawater. This wood is characterized by its excellent durability and low shrinkage and warping under environmental conditions. However, freshwater bodies are not ideal for mahogany, as water intrusion causes rot.


Another alternative to teak comes from balau, a wood native to Southeast Asia. Balau, like teak, grows in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and other regions. Although wood has become less important in modern ships, balau remains a standard Shipbuilding Woods source for locals needing transportation in interisland coastal areas. A 2020 IOP Science study concluded that balau is a viable alternative to teak for shipbuilding, along with Kupang, Terntum and others.

Balau is popular as a marine wood due to its density and durability. Ships built with Balau are usually sturdy and, therefore, can withstand strong ocean forces. In boat building, Balau is often used for panels, docks, and decks, regardless of the colour of wood the manufacturer uses. Although practical, Balau wood has drawbacks, including toxicity to some users and susceptibility to insect infestation.


Oak has a long history as a Shipbuilding Woods, as nations have used it for trade, war, exploration, and other important purposes. This hardwood was popular during the Age of Discovery because its planks could support ship hulls and strengthen sheathing made from weaker woods. Warships benefited greatly from oak wood, as it allowed military personnel to maintain their boats during battles. 

Oak is less common today, but still plays a role in modern boat building. For example, the U.S. Navy owns a white oak forest in Indiana where they repair antique and historic vessels that are displayed in various museums. Restoring your ship with oak allows you to maintain the integrity of the structure due to the strength of the wood.


Cedar is another timeless and reliable material for the Shipbuilding Woods industry. This wood is unique in that it is soft, but its light texture has been known for centuries, and historical documents mention the use of Lebanese cedar in ancient ships. For example, the 14th century BC shipwreck of the Uluburun. In the 4th century BC, the Cedars of Lebanon were used to transport precious metals, but they sank near what is now southwestern Turkey. Another great feature of cedar is its resistance to rot and pest infestation. It has been known for a long time for the pleasant scent of natural resin. This sealant protects cedar at sea, making it a durable option for crews.


Although hardwoods receive attention for their strength, softwoods are an important part of the lumber industry. Experts believe it accounts for 70% of all wood production and is about four times more common than hardwoods. Pine is also a coniferous tree used for Shipbuilding Woods and is a genus found on almost every continent. Pine is inexpensive and easy to work with, making it a popular choice in shipbuilding. 

This selection is one of the strongest in the conifer family, but it is less common than oak and other hardwoods. Pine was widely used in early shipbuilding, but its perishability made it difficult to work with. Factors such as suboptimal soil moisture can cause pine trees to rot faster, making them dangerous to ships.

Douglas Fir 

Douglas Fir may remind you of a  Christmas tree, but this plant from the Pinaceae family is a solid material used in shipbuilding. Native to the Pacific Northwest, the Douglas Fir is a versatile, strong coniferous tree that is well-suited for boating. Builders can take advantage of wood’s durability, as studies have shown that wood retains its mechanical properties even when exposed to temperatures in excess of 280°C.

What Role Does Wood Play In Modern Ships?

As Shipbuilding Wood Technology improved, completely wooden ships became less common. However, hardwoods and softwoods still play a role in modern ship construction. Here are some ways modern Shipbuilding Woods timber supports ships. 

Carbon Fiber 

Although the wood is not very important, other materials can strengthen the wood and make the ship suitable for the sea. For example, carbon fibre has high strength and good elasticity but remains relatively thin. Therefore,  it increases strength when woven into materials used in shipbuilding. Carbon fibre reinforcement makes your boat look more authentic while supporting structural integrity. Italian shipyard Castagnola Yachts produces carbon fibre yachts that sport black hulls.


The most common place for wood on modern ships is the deck. While some decks have been converted to steel, others still use wood for practical and aesthetic reasons. For example, teak decking makes sense because it is more resistant to rot and pest infestation than most hardwoods. Regardless of your wood choice, your deck will benefit from non-slip deck paint for added safety. The crew was able to apply her Durabak marine liner. 

This is because it adheres well to the wood and prevents it from slipping. Interior Design Wood doesn’t hold up as well in exteriors as fibreglass or steel, but it’s still a good choice for interior design. Shipyards often use wood for furniture and hardwoods for aesthetic and practical reasons. Different types come in light and dark shades, depending on operator preference. Properly treated wood can easily last a long time on board and is flexible for almost any purpose. Fuel Making ships more sustainable is a priority for the maritime industry, so all options to reduce emissions are on the table.

How Can Ship Operators Make Their Ships More Environmentally Friendly?

Bulk feedstock wood is an alternative fuel strategy because it is more sustainable and cost-effective than traditional fossil fuels. Oak, maple, and other hardwoods are great examples of greener energy production.

Frequently Asked Questions: Do Ships Still Use Wood?

Most shipyards choose steel and fiberglass because they provide better insulation and are more durable. However, wood is still used for various parts, such as ship decks.

Where Is The Wooden Ship?

Most wooden ships are found in museums and historic sites. For example, the US Constitution of Boston is one of the few constitutions still in force.

Are Hardwoods Or Softwoods Better For Boats?

Hardwoods are generally better than softwoods because they are stronger and more durable. However,  if the operator requires a lightweight, maneuverable wood, softwoods will also work well.

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