Cyril Williams of Woodlink UK
talks to TTJ about drive, passion and the role of TRADA Technology
testing in bringing a product to market
• Lyptus® decking was an integral part
Monaco Garden at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.
• Lyptus® is a hybrid of Eucalyptus
grandis and Eucalyptus urophylla.
• Woodlink UK has supplied
• TRADA Technology designed a test protocol to establish technical data.
Cyril Williams states unashamedly that he has “put heart and soul” into
developing Lyptus® hardwood decking,
which burst so spectacularly onto the public stage at the Chelsea Flower
Show in May.
The product featured in the Gold medal-winning
Monaco Garden and, said
BBC presenter Chris Beardshaw, “is set to revolutionise decking in our
landscapes and gardens”.
It’s ironic perhaps that a few sound bites could endorse in minutes what
it had taken the David & Goliath partnership of Woodlink UK and
Weyerhaeuser months to do – give
credibility in the UK as a viable decking product.
This hardwood, a hybrid of Eucalyptus grandis and Eucalyptus urophylla,
is grown in managed plantations in South America and as such offers a
sustainable alternative to traditional Tropical Timbers. It is PEFC-certified
for good measure and, crucially, there is no seasonal variation in
supply – it can be supplied all year round.
Initially, however, that cut little ice with the UK market. Mr
Williams’s modest company in Essex had been a supplier of Weyerhaeuser’s
FAS kiln-dried Lyptus® for nearly
four years, but British buyers can be conservative and, despite a
willingness to embrace sustainability, they are wary of the unknown. It
was at this point that Woodlink UK looked hard at what the market
“There seemed to be a gap for a fully-certified decking product with
regular delivery,” said Mr Williams.
“We fervently believed that
suitable for the job, but without independent technical data we had to
accept that availability and green credentials were of little value if
the product had no means to prove its performance.”
Dimensional stability is an important property for decking timbers, as
excessive movement can result in warping which will cause a trip hazard
and may lead to failure of fixings – as well as looking unsightly.
Woodlink UK was able to draw on research by its former parent company,
Woodlink GmbH in Germany. The Hamburg Holz-Institut recommended that
only boards of a certain density should be used, sapwood should be
excluded and that the material should be dried to a moisture content of
10%. At its sophisticated mill near Vitoria in Brazil, Weyerhaeuser has
worked with Woodlink in ensuring its production meets these
However, the Hamburg testing recommended that the optimum profile for
decking should be 20x90mm to reduce risks of cupping or bowing resulting
from moisture-related movement in situ. This, said Mr Williams, was
another stumbling block.
“What 90% of the UK market wants is boards measuring 21x145mm, so we
invested in further testing with TRADA Technology of the profiles the
market demands here,” he said.
There are, however, no British Standards to provide limits on distortion
of timber decking, or guidance on testing movement that occurs in deck
boards when in service. TRADA Technology therefore designed a test
protocol, using two test rigs to expose deck boards under ‘real life’
conditions and in a climate chamber designed to expose the decking
boards to ‘harsh’ climate extremes.
Both rigs allowed for accurate monitoring of movement. These tests
indicated that, when boards were fixed according to TRADA Technology’s
guidance, set out in its Timber Decking Manual, “little distortion of
the boards occurred”.
Stainless steel fixings
Interestingly, the testing also demonstrated that because of the high
extractives content of this timber,
like several other species such as cedar and oak, was susceptible to
iron stain, but that this problem can be avoided if stainless steel
fixings are used.
“Our long experience with providing guidance on the installation of
timber decks, and evaluating performance of actual decks in service,
enabled us to recognise the properties that required testing and devise
methods to do this,” said TRADA Technology’s Dr Andy Pitman.
And the TRADA Technology test report is proving the key to opening new
doors for Lyptus®. Without it, Cyril
Williams said, “Chelsea might not have happened. Now, potential buyers
are clearly reassured that
do the job as soon as they see the TRADA Technology name.”