All About Deluxe Iroko Worktops: A Worktop Express® Nutshell Guide
Deluxe Iroko – otherwise known as African Teak – is one of our favourite worktops here in the offices. We’ve collated all the information you’ll ever need to know about this charismatic timber, including its science, history and more.
Iroko is one of the largest hardwood trees in Africa, and whilst the wood initially has a yellow hue, it will mostly darken over time to a rich brown. Some staves have a beautiful golden sheen that reflects the light and stops the worktop absorbing all the light in a room.
We also stock a standard form of iroko with staves of 40mm rather than the more lavish 90mm staves of our Deluxe worktops. In the wider form, iroko looks incredibly high-class and would make an excellent dining table.
To see more photographs of Deluxe Iroko worktops up close and personal, take a look at our Worktop Image Gallery.
TYPE OF WOOD AND GRAIN STRUCTURE
Iroko is a fairly large deciduous tree that grows to over 50 metres tall. Whilst the bark is a pale grey colour, the darker hardwood hidden within has a relatively coarse texture, with open pores and an interlocked grain.
‘Medullary rays’ are present throughout the timber, which are the radial sheets and ribbons that extend vertically throughout the tree and across the growth rings. Our Deluxe Iroko worktops are constructed from quartersawn staves, which shows off the wood at its finest and keeps the character of the grain intact.
Poorer quality examples of iroko timber may contain deposits of calcium, which forms cavities and weakens the structure of the wood. You can recognise these deposits of calcium if the wood displays lots of small dark patches. Our suppliers would only construct an iroko block worktop from wood which does not exhibit these qualities.
SOURCE AND MANUFACTURE
There are two main trees that constitute towards the supply of wood commonly known as iroko. Both of the Moraceae family, Cholophora excelsa is the most common, though the very similar Cholophora regia is also frequently used.
These species of tree are found throughout Central Africa, with the largest concentrations found in wet savannah, rainforest, and low-altitude evergreen forests.
It’s our top priority to source wood that is not only hardy and attractive, but also environmentally sound where possible. Due to its African heritage, iroko cannot be classified under the European FSC certification, but we have gone through great lengths over the last few years to ensure that our timber only comes from sustainable, legal sources. We demand a chain of custody for all timber imported, and only ever deal with suppliers that promote proper environmental practice.
To find out more about our environmental credentials, please read our Environmental Policy page.
Since the inception of Worktop Express® we’ve delivered over 150,000 worktops and are proud to now be considered experts in the field. We fabricate and deliver worktops and accessories of the highest quality at excellent prices. We only ever deal directly with suppliers, cutting out any middlemen and ensuring we always have the best relationships with the manufacturers. To keep our standards at the highest level, we visit our suppliers at least once every three months. To find out more, read our ’Sourcing and Manufacture Guide’.
Whilst our standard worktops are constructed from a 40mm stave, our Deluxe Iroko worktops are constructed from more lavish 90mm wide staves of varying lengths, highlighting the beauty of this African timber in a most elegant way. A number of the staves are joined together to create a larger piece of wood suitable for our solid wood worktops. We have worked closely with our manufacturers to ensure that staves of the highest quality are chosen, prioritising aesthetic continuity and regularity of grain pattern and colour.
The 90mm staves are finger jointed under high pressure to create a consistently smooth surface. By using this particular type of joint we can ensure that our luxury iroko worktops are made to be not only aesthetically pleasing, but can stand up to the stresses of daily life within the home.
For more information on the construction of our worktops, visit our ‘Construction Types Explained’ information guide.
- Tree Size: 30-50m tall, up to 1-2 m trunk diameter
- Density: 550-750 kg/m3
- Average Dried Weight: 660 kg/m3
- Janka Hardness: (5610 N)
- Modulus of Rupture (bending strength): 87.6 MPa
- Elastic Modulus (‘stiffness’ of wood): 9.38 GPa
All species of wood have natural colour variations that can, occur for a variety of reasons, including factors in its environment during growth. Due to oxidation and UV exposure, the timber from most trees steadily changes colour once they have been cut down. Iroko is especially sensitive to the oxidation process (particularly when left in direct sunlight), and therefore darkens more quickly noticeably than other wood, transforming from a golden yellow and maturing to a rich deep brown with a stunning sheen. We display images of our beautiful Deluxe Iroko on our website as the colour it becomes over time, in order to give the most accurate representation of how your worktops will look in the long-term.
Courtesy of djembe-art
It’s difficult to find as much historical information on iroko as that which surrounds European and American trees, but we do know that in West Africa iroko is often considered a sacred tree. In the past ritual sacrifices would take place underneath a solitary tree, and gifts were given to them. It was believed that spirits were trapped within the tree, and was also associated with fertility and birth.
The timber has been used for ceremonial drums and coffins, as well as masks and small carved idols. Its bark and leaves is also believed to have medicinal uses, which it is still prescribed for to this day, by native doctors who do not have ready access to modern medicines.
In more recent times, iroko has been used to create more modern tourist versions of the face masks and idols that were once more sacred to the tribes of West African culture. Of course it’s also used for furniture and our rather lovely wooden worktops.
As leaders in the field of solid wood worktops, we go through great lengths to make sure that we are able to offer Deluxe iroko and other hardwood worktops at an extremely competitive price. This involves us streamlining our processes to become very efficient as well as high-volume purchasing to keep cost prices as low as possible. At any one time we have over 5,000 worktops in stock, meaning we can deliver direct to the public and trade quickly and efficiently with our own in-house delivery team.
We have specialist online stock ordering systems that help us reduce the quantity of dead stock and wastage, which in turns helps us to reduce costs. Our ‘direct-to-public’ e-commerce business model has meant that we’re able to drastically save on overheads compared to some of our competitors. We’ve also been the first in our industry to introduce various new practices and the most up-to-date products.
We take regular trips to Europe to visit our supplier – usually every three months. We never use third-party agents as we believe that it’s very important that we see the products first hand, to ensure that our high standards are continually implemented. We’re looking to expand in to further European markets throughout 2014.
Deluxe Iroko worktops start at £210 for a 2m worktop – excellent value for such a lavish work surface.
Deluxe Iroko worktops are ideal for kitchens with both contemporary and classic design themes. The rich bronze timber complements kitchens with lashings of un-painted wood, or alternatively can be used as a nice contrast within ultra-modern kitchens that favour monochromatic schemes. Consider under-counter lighting to reflect the iridescence of iroko’s surface.