May 18 2022, by Fleetwood Urban

Exploding Six Timber Maintenance Myths

We’ve written about it before. We’ll most likely write about it again. Yes, it’s time to, once more, challenge the persistent myths and misconceptions surrounding the durability of custom timber structures. Why? Because in the vast majority of cases they simply aren’t true and, even worse, they may be leading you away from an otherwise fantastic solution for your local community – something we sadly see, time and again.

Myth 1: Timber doesn’t last in outdoor environments.

This couldn’t be any further from the truth. When it’s the right Class 1 durability timber, designed and used in the right way, it absolutely does last – decade after decade. From bridges and boardwalks, to decks and wharfs, there are hundreds of examples of outdoor timber structures across Australia with service lives already well over 50 years, and they’re still going strong. (As for plastic structures of the same age? We’re not sure you’ll find many of those.)


Myth 2: Using plastic is easier because it doesn’t require maintenance.

Sorry to say, but plastic structures do require maintenance! All outdoor structures require maintenance, especially when they’re in the public domain like bridges, boardwalks and community playgrounds. Thing is, when plastic components are broken or damaged, they almost always need to be completely replaced. Timber is often much easier and faster to repair than worn and damaged plastic components, especially ones that need to be pre-fabricated and/or imported from overseas.


Myth 3: Timber needs to be sanded and oiled every 12-18 months..

You absolutely can do this for your timber structure, especially if it’s an important part of the aesthetic you’re looking to create and preserve. But in so many instances, ongoing sanding and oiling simply isn’t necessary from a structural integrity or design life perspective. When the timber has been properly specified and treated, you can let it ‘grey off’ naturally over time with very minimal maintenance. In the right circumstances you won’t even need to touch it to achieve a great design life!

Myth 4: Timber is a fire and vandalism hazard.

You may be surprised to know the exact opposite is true, especially when it comes to the dense hardwood timbers we typically use here at Fleetwood. Hold a lighter to an Ironbark post and see how long it takes to catch alight. (Tip – you’ll end up with a sore arm). Then imagine doing the same with a plastic slide, swing or climbing frame. (Tip – have your fire extinguisher handy). Hardwood is also strong and durable, making it less susceptible to costly vandalism repairs, while to remove graffiti all you need is a little sandpaper. That’s far easier than plastic and catalogue components which can require costly chemical cleaning, recoating or even full replacement.

Myth 5: Timber components are harder to replace.

Again, this is a situation where perceptions don’t always align with reality. All custom timber structures designed and delivered by Fleetwood use readily-available Class 1 timber that’s 100% Australian-sourced and produced. That means should any repairs be required they can be done quickly – and locally. Whereas the bulk of catalogue items will need to be pre-ordered, fabricated and then shipped from overseas suppliers, a long-winded process that can mean your structures are out of action for weeks, if not months. (We’ve heard the stories!)

Myth 6: Custom timber structures aren’t covered by warranty. 

We can’t speak for other companies here. But when you work with Fleetwood, your timber structures are always 100% covered by our industry-leading structural and parts warranties. Even better, everything we design and install is covered by our Care Plus™ maintenance plan at no additional cost. On completion, our specialist crews will inspect (and service if required) your structure every 6 months for the all-important first 3 years, making life even easier for you and your assets team.

Read more about our Warranty and Care Plus Plan here.


Like to know more about maximising the service life of your timber structure, while also reducing maintenance? Contact us today.

You may also like to visit the WoodSolutions website. It’s an excellent free Australian-based resource with a wealth of specialist timber information and advice. We use it ourselves.



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