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Timber wall and ceiling linings are becoming more popular across commercial and residential design because of the softness, texture and warmth timber can provide to the atmosphere of a room or space. The term ‘timber makes you feel good’ is now becoming understood and accepted as a statement backed up by scientific fact, as well as aesthetic appeal.

However, because timber is sometimes misunderstood, I wanted to share a few simple tips to help you protect your timber specification, and answer the questions I receive every day. There are  4 simple questions to ask yourself when considering a timber product, plus a specification checklist to use when finalising your documentation. Let’s use Porta Contours timber linings as the product example.

Article by Claire Greenwood, Porta – National Project Specification Manager.

1. What Group number is required?

Ask if a fire assessment has been done and if a high retardant product is required, that is a Group 1 or 2. This is typical of large entrance foyers, lift lobby’s, fire exits, common areas or anywhere near or acting as a fire exit. Because all timber, including Contours linings achieve a group 3 rating, you need to specify a coating that changes this to a Group 1. Group 1 coatings are available. One well-known brand on the market is Fireshield, a clear coating by RESENE. It can be factory applied or applied on site. Ask Porta for an introduction. Fireshield means you can now use timber anywhere in your design!

2. What appearance grade of timber do you want?

Timber can be specified to achieve varying degrees of character. This means the natural ‘characteristics’ such as gum vein, knots, dark spots, grain markings (and more) you see in timber is available in different intensities. Timber is grouped (or graded) into 3 types of appearances you can specify (as per the Australian Standard). Select grade timber has very little, to no character, offering a clean finish. Medium Feature (also called Standard or Prime) grade has more character than Select, and High Feature (also called Classic) grade has substantially more character.  By talking to a timber supplier, you can see how different grades can offer you different styles, and potentially support project budgets. Porta Contours is available in different timber grades so call me to arrange a meeting and see how they can offer different styles for your project.

3. Do you require a hard timber and a hard wearing coating?

This is often a question not asked, however, it is important to answer at the specification stage. If your design is in an area of high wear and tear, meaning potential contact from feet, people or items being carried, the hardness of the timber and the coating serves to protect the timber surface. Contours is made of Tas oak as it is a hard timber for internal use. Contours can be purchased pre-finished with a factory applied, industrial strength coating that offers moisture and scratch resistance protection. This is because it contains polyurethane which ‘cures’ and hardens. Pine is a very soft timber and can be dented easily (great for ceilings, and is great value for money!). Also, not all coatings and the method of application offers a protective seal.


4. The design profile you desire?

Timber is a very versatile material as it can moulded to achieve textured profiles or unique shapes. I encourage you to create your own profiled linings. Custom moulded linings are not substantially more expensive than the range we stock, a misconception I often hear. The price is impacted by the timber species, thickness, width and quantities. The Porta Contours linings are made to a size that ensure stability, availability, limited waste and concealed joints. Don’t let the word custom put you off, we can help to meet your deadlines and importantly desired profile and finishing requirements. Start talking to us early so we can help you understand the options available. (MOQ apply for custom projects)


Performance requirement check list:
The performance requirement check list below is a guide to help protect your specification, but also serves as a list of terms to understand when designing with timber. One critical question to also consider is the available budget. This can help greatly  knowing what factors to pull to ensure your specification is also accepted and budget met. I can also provide options should VM or estimators seek to reduce costs. My role is to help you understand each of these terms so please call or email me to discuss your project and where you would like timber to be used.

Specification Checklist:

  • Supplier name
  • Product name, code, length, dimensions – an image of profile also helps
  • Timber species
  • Certification – FSC, PEFC, Responsible Wood (formerly AFS)
  • Hardness – Janka
  • Grade of timber – appearance
  • Fire retardant coating for Group 1 – i.e. Fireshield
  • Pre-finished product by Porta, including colour reference
  • External requirements (for next month): Durability, Pre-coating, Maintenance schedule, Leaching

A timber supplier with experience sourcing, moulding and finishing timber is a valuable relationship to build. At Porta we offer honest advice as we have been working with timber for over 75 years, and confident in our  experience to help you achieve the style you want, but also importantly provide a stable and compliant product.

Lastly, if you see your timber specification removed after VM please call us. We can provide other options that seek to meet your budgets. Our goal is to have Australia enjoying the feel and atmosphere timber creates in interior design!

Any questions or comments on this please call me!

Claire Greenwood – Project Specification Manager, Porta
[email protected] / 0427 771 072


Any questions or comments?