Red Grandis is a wood that varies in color from pink to white cream to light rose but its claim to fame likely belongs to the fact that it is certifiably green. It is the trademarked name for hardwood from a plantation-grown Eucalyptus tree (Eucalyptus grandis) that boasts FSC certification.
The wood is described as straight-grained, medium textured and available in excellent widths and lengths in lumber, veneer and plywood. Red grandis is being touted as a possible alternative for a variety of hardwoods, including mahogany and sapele. Northland Forest Product’s tech sheet compares Red Grandis’ durability to dark red meranti or sapele with a dimensional stability that is similar to cherry or hard maple.
Red Grandis was the award winner of the Sequoia New Product Award at the 2011 AWFS convention in Las Vegas, for product innovation and leadership in the woodworking industry in the category of Green/Environmental Leadership in raw Materials.
Common uses include cabinetry, furniture, doors and windows, millwork, interior flooring, moldings, decking, exterior siding and trim, outdoor furniture and patio equipment. Plantation grown eucalyptus can be found in products by Crate & Barrel. The company uses plantation grown eucalyptus in a variety FSC-approved products and collections, which include chaise lounges, armchairs, tables, umbrella poles and more.
Cofusa and Urufor are forestry companies located in the north of Uruguay involved in the growth and manufacture of Eucalyptus grandis timber products since the 1980s. Uruguay, according to Urufor, offers an ideal climate for plantation grown eucalyptus. “Historically the country has had an agricultural and cattle breeding tradition and few native woodlands,” says Urufor in company literature. “The forestry sector in the country began its steady growth in the late 1980s as a result of government policies.”
Keith Atherholt, president of Lewis Lumber Products, has been an early fan of the wood, which he describes as a mahogany alternative when the correct stain is applied. Atherholt said the wood has desirable properties including exterior properties which could make it a viable choice for users especially with its green properties. The Lewis Lumber Products' website describes Red Grandis as “a versatile, strong and beautiful lumber considered one of the first substitutes for tropical lumber. It is an excellent lumber for furniture, house interiors, flooring, framing and decorative products.”
Atherholt said in his experience, users of Red Grandis typically go on to use it a second, third and fourth time. “It is priced very competitively and has a lot to offer. It’s a very good wood,” said Atherholt.
Shannon Rogers, director of marketing, J. Gibson McIlvaine Co., said his company considered offering Red Grandis, “but we weren’t able to get ‘traction’ with it. There is nothing wrong with the wood. I think it is a case of our customers already working with several mahogany alternatives and perhaps not interested in trying something new.”
Rogers personally worked with red grandis and found it extremely adaptable when it came time to be finished. “It is a wood that takes a variety of treatments well and can offer dramatically different looks depending on the finish used.”
Information regarding red grandis on the Gibson McIlvaine Co. website describes Red Grandis as a potential alternative for such species as mahogany, Spanish cedar and even cherry “because of the aesthetic similarities but also the physical workability, stability and durability. It is a bit softer than genuine mahogany with a Janka rating of 720 psi and the density is almost exactly the same.” The company adds that the highly sustainable material is FSC rated and will qualify for LEEDs points. While the website admits red grandis probably won’t replace genuine mahogany, it says Red Grandis is an alternative for a “cost effective, high quality, red colored wood.” Rogers said Red Grandis is a popular choice in Europe where it seems to have gained market acceptance.
The Lancasters, Hyde Park, London, reportedly used Red Grandis from a company called Timbmet to produce some 800 doors and windows for a high-end residential development in Central London. Project architects specified the FSC-certified hardwood, according to Timbmet, because it met the group’s specifications for performance, stability and natural durability as well as aesthetics. “Continuity of supply of the engineered timber” was also a factor in its selection for the project, according to manufacturer George Barnsdale and Sons. Timbmet said Red Grandis can be easily stained to resemble oak, sapele and meranti.
Eucalyptus grandis is native to the east coast of Australia, where it is often known as rose gum. Rose gum is described as one of the most important of the commercial eucalypts. Southwest Florida reportedly is one of the areas that has been attempting to cultivate rose gum as a plantation grown commercial species. Additional areas where the species trials have been conducted include California, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.