Paulownia is the botanical name of the kiri tree. Its wood has extraordinary properties. It is stable, durable and is extremely lightweight. It has a remarkably smooth surface.
KIRITEC only sources sustainably grown paulownia wood with highly homogeneous material properties. You can find out everything you need to know about this type of wood, its cultivation and the tree’s environmental impact in the following.
Areas of application.
As a building material, paulownia is superior to many other wood types primarily because of its light weight. Its properties make the wood a true revelation for the expanding lightweight construction sector. The material is particularly popular in the following areas:
In addition, the wood is suitable for use in aircraft construction, boat building, for the production of furniture, surfboards, coffins and many other products.
A fascinating material: 8 facts about paulownia wood
Three times lighter than oak.
The kiri tree from the paulownia genus is the fastest-growing tree in the world, and its wood is among the lightest. It weighs just 250 to 350 kg/m³. This corresponds to one third the weight of a cubic metre of oak. The low weight makes paulownia an ideal building material whenever every gram counts: ship and boat building, the tiny house and caravanning sectors, interior fittings, packaging and sports equipment such as surfboards and skis.
High relative strength .
The wood has a honeycomb wall structure making it very strong relative to its weight and giving it exceptional stability. Paulownia wood is therefore known as the “aluminium among woods”.
Exceptionally weather resistant.
Unlike other types of wood, paulownia wood is particularly good for outdoor uses. Its special properties mean moisture dries very quickly, which helps to prevent the growth of moss, fungi and lichens. The Burckhardt Institute at the University of Göttingen proved in tests lasting several months that the wood does not split, cup or warp even after prolonged weathering.
As the tree grows, it traps a relatively large amount of air in its cells. This gives the wood its excellent insulating properties. Paulownia wood has around twice the insulating ability of oak (thermal conductivity for paulownia: 0.09, oak: 0.2). This makes it ideal for building saunas, houses and motor homes, doors, windows and blinds, as well as for cladding house façades.
The wood is very dimensionally stable, even in environments with fluctuating humidity. It has very low shrinkage and swelling.
The wood is light in colour, gently and regularly grained and pleasant to the touch with its surface being remarkably smooth. Only wood from first-class paulownia trees from European plantations makes it into the KIRITEC range. Their very straight trunks are almost branch-free. The smooth wood has an exceptionally high-quality look. This is why the high-grade wood of the paulownia tree is particularly suitable for use where appearance is also important, for example, furniture making, coffins and musical instruments. In Japan, they are traditionally used to make kimono wardrobes.
Paulownia wood has a comparatively high flash point: It only burns above 400°C. In comparison, a pine tree has a flash point of just 225°C.
Easy and versatile to use.
Paulownia wood is very easy and versatile to manually or mechanically process, whether as laminated wood, glued boards, wood-core plywood, scantlings or plywood. Boards and products made of paulownia do not splinter, but do absorb varnishes and stains very well.
THE LIGHTWEIGHT MULTITALENT
6 environmental facts
High carbon sequestration.
The paulownia can capture and store up to 35 kilograms of carbon dioxide per year – that’s up to 40 tonnes per plantation hectare. This corresponds to about four times the amount of carbon sequestration of a Central European mixed forest. Growing this wood is therefore helping to protect the climate.
KIRITEC only provides sustainably produced wood that has been grown on land in Europe. This means that the trees grow away from forests. Rather than putting pressure on natural forests, kiri plantations complement them, also because kiri’s low weight and special grain makes it a high-quality alternative to tropical woods such as balsa and teak. This preserves natural habitats.
Wird nachhaltig produziert.
Timber from KIRITEC is always produced sustainably. It is sourced from managed European plantations complying with strict European laws. The tree has no great impact on the soil and enhances the ecological value of agricultural land. Its flowers are a good source of nourishment for bees.
The kiri tree is fast growing and thus requires less water to produce a given amount of wood than other trees. Its heart-root system means that the tree generally uses water more efficiently than other species. It can be harvested after just five years.
The paulownia can be harvested over multiple generations, other trees only once. The tree resprouts straight from the stump. After ten years it reaches heights of 12 to 15 metres. Over this period, its trunk thickens by up to 40 centimetres.
Saves money and energy.
As the wood is exceptionally light, cargo spaces in trucks can be fully utilised without exceeding permissible total weights. This means more wood per load, less driving and less fuel.
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You can find more information about growing kiri here.
What does the bluebell tree have in common with paulownia?
The bluebell tree (paulownia tomentosa) is the best-known paulownia species. It is often found in parks and botanical gardens, noticeable by its large purple flowers. The bluebell tree usually has a gnarled growth. It is therefore unsuitable for professional cultivation and the production of timber and value-added wood.
Paulownia wood from KIRITEC comes from sustainably managed plantations where only protected kiri tree varieties grow. They owe their particularly straight and vigorous trunk growth to crossing the paulownia fortunei and paulownia elongata.