Here’s why naturally altered softwoods are the future-conscious alternative to hardwood decking

A robust 100% real wooden deck that can accommodate the Weber, the bar and the outdoor couch is top-of-the-outdoor-list for most South Africans. But the catch often is that the world’s great hardwoods grow naturally in Asia, Africa and Latin America’s rainforests where they act as the  “green lungs” of the Earth and are home to an estimated 30 million animal and plant species. Destroying rainforests whose continued existence is key in the battle against rapid climate change, would also mean the loss of habitat for the many species who call it home and ultimately, extinction for all of us.


Homegrown entrepreneurs Scott Sargent and Stuart and Andrew Prior who believe that rain forests should be left alone, developed Rhino Wood, an innovative and sustainable alternative that has “hardwood” qualities using fast-growing South African pine. “Not only are tropical hardwood forests the “green lungs of the earth, they also have an average 80-100 year growing cycle,” says Sargent.  “To us it just did not make sense to destroy the planet when sustainable alternatives like local pine which matures in just 30 years can naturally and virtually overnight, be modified into sustainable ‘hardwood’ by using an ever expanding range of technologies.”


The Rhino Wood patented process gives softwoods, like pine, the same cellular makeup and characteristics of even the most durable and rarest hardwoods. The Sargent/Prior invention was so impressive that they were one of the first three companies in South Africa to receive the WWF Climate Solvers Award in 2014.2


But whilst their achievement received international recognition from the most credible of sources, South Africans Africans are still fairly new to the idea of modified timbers and further education around the product is needed.


So what is Rhino Wood really?  Is it still natural wood? What does altered or modified mean? Does the process involve harmful chemicals?


The first step in the Rhino Wood patented process is to thermally modify the locally sourced South African pine using a proprietary heat treatment procedure that collapses the cells and burns out the sugars and resins that would have made the wood susceptible to rot. Then the thermally modified wood is comprehensively infused with a patented natural non-toxic wax-like compound that pushes out any remaining moisture and fills the voids. This prevents future water absorption that leads to warping and adds hardwood stability, strength and load-bearing capacity to the product. An additional bonus is that the process prevents termites or woodborers from recognising Rhino Wood as a food source due to the indigestibilty of the compound itself.


The end result is Rhino Wood: 100% natural, free from harmful chemicals and a sustainable replacement for threatened hardwoods.