In Design, Timber Posted


What is Opepe and how does it compare against Iroko? Let’s find out…



Opepe is a very durable Marine Hardwood, which is used for Sea Defences.  It can be used untreated in contact with the soil and is often used for long lasting durable decking, it is initially a bright orange colour which will age to a silver grey

Opepe is a very large, well-shaped tree, from 35m to 48m tall and 1.0m to 2.0m in diameter at breast height. The trunk is generally without buttresses, although old trees often have a basal swelling that extends not more than 1.0m above the ground. The bole is slender, cylindrical, and free of branches for 20m to 30m.


Origins: Africa from Sierra Leone to the Congo region and eastward to Uganda

Also Known As: kusia (Ghana), badi (Ivory Coast), bilinga (Gabon)

Wood Type: Hardwood

Durability: Class 1 – Very Durable

Treatability: Vey Easy

Moisture Movement: Small

Density (mean, Kg/m³): 750

Texture: Coarse

Use(s): Heavy structural use, Joinery – Exterior, Flooring, Decking

Colour(s): Pink/pale red, Yellow brown


The timber

As fresh sawn Opepe is a uniform golden-yellow or orange-brown. Once the Opepe hardwood has seasoned it maintains the uniform but in a silvery grey colour. The texture is tight and the grain frequently interlocked although once machined an excellent smooth and lustrous finish is obtained.


Opepe is exceptionally strong and durable, superior in all strength and durability categories in comparison to most other hardwoods. It is also a very hard and heavy timber weighing in at around 750 kg/m³.


Opepe – Fresh

Opepe – Dried



The wood itself is a golden/orange brown colour, the sapwood is a yellowish whitey colour. It may be darker if there are large, hard calcium-carbonate deposits in cavities in the wood. So the texture is even but slightly coarse. This is due to the grain being interlocked but sometimes this may be irregular,

It is a hard wood, so as a hardwood it is quite solid. This results in it being a very durable outdoors, and is quite resistant to fungi. However the sapwood has a breathable coat.


Origins: Africa from the Ivory Coast southward to Angola and East Africa. West Africa from Gambia to Ghana

Also Known As: odum (Ghana and Ivory Coast), mvule (East Africa), kambala (Zaire), bang (Cameroons), moreira (Angola), tule, intule (Mozambique)

Wood Type: Hardwood

Durability: Class 2 – Durable

Treatability: Extremely difficult

Moisture Movement: Small

Density (mean, Kg/m³): 660

Texture: Medium

Use(s): Joinery – Exterior, Joinery – Interior, Cladding, Decking

Colour(s):  Yellow brown


The timber

When freshly cut, or when unexposed to light, the heartwood is a distinct yellow colour, but on exposure to light it quickly becomes golden-brown. The sapwood is narrow, being about 50mm to 75mm wide, and clearly defined. The grain is usually interlocked and the texture is rather coarse but even, and the wood weighs on average 660 kg/m³ when dried. Large, hard deposits of calcium carbonate called ‘stone’ deposits, are sometimes present in cavities, probably as a result of injury to the tree. They are often enclosed by the wood and not visible until the time of sawing, though the wood around them may be darker in colour, thus giving an indication of their presence.


Iroko has excellent strength properties, comparing well with teak, though weaker in bending and in compression along the grain.


Iroko – Fresh


Iroko – Dried



Colour: While opepe has the yellow & pink and iroko has the yellow and browns, this is just superficial as both timber will weather to a silver grey and you can’t tell the difference visually.

Durability: Opepe is class 1, Iroko is class 2. What this means is opepe will outlast iroko as its a much more tighter grain.



Both timbers are an excellent choice for street furniture products.

Opepe is superior in terms of durability hence it will last longer, although Iroko has more market presence.


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