What Is Lauan Wood?

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Lauan wood refers to timber harvested from Pacific rim tree species.
Lauan wood refers to timber harvested from Pacific rim tree species. (Image: Stojan Mihajlov/iStock/Getty Images)

Lauan wood is the common name assigned to a number of types of timber harvested from Pacific rim tree species. Other names associated with the wood include Philippine mahogany, Luan and Meranti. Lauan wood is not a true mahogany but can be finished to resemble it. The wood is sometimes marketed as solid boards but in the U.S. it is more often supplied as light plywood.

Physical Appearance

Lauan wood ranges in color from pink to a dark reddish brown. The wood has a wavy grain and a coarse texture but can be sanded to a smooth finish. Application of reddish stains lead to a finished product resembling the more expensive true mahogany woods.

Uses of Luan Wood

Solid Lauan wood is often used in furniture and trim work. Luan plywood is softer than other plywood, allowing the wood to be more readily worked or carved. Because Lauan plywood is available in thin panels it is often used in miniature constructions such as doll houses. The plywood is 1/4-inch or thinner and is sometimes referred to as die-cut plywood because it can be cut to shape with dies rather requiring the use of saws.

Sources of Lauan Wood

Much of the world’s Lauan plywood is imported from the South Pacific and southern Asia. It is commonly available from home improvement stores, craft stores and lumber yards and is also available online from specialty wood retailers.

Tree Species

Several species of trees are harvested and marketed as Lauan wood, but the most common source of the wood is the Shorea family of trees. Balau and red meranti result in Lauan wood with the deepest red color. White Lauan wood results from white or yellow meranti.

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