Intelligent manufacturing: Weathertex and the production of natural timber panels

  •   10 October 2017

As the first manufactured product globally to achieve Platinum-rated GreenTag certification, Weathertex’s Natural Range of timber weatherboards and architectural panels represents a significant step towards conscientious sustainable development. GreenTag has been certifying products in the architecture and design industries since 2010, reaching high levels of respect and distribution due to its insistence on stringent, consistent testing methods. These methods are defined by International Standards and based on the entire lifecycle of a product and its individual components.

To achieve a Platinum rating, no toxins whatsoever can be used at any stage in the product’s lifecycle. The recognition that Weathertex has received for their Natural Range of timber products has come about as a direct result of tried and tested manufacturing processes and material choices. Weathertex’s Natural Range not only prohibits the use of toxins and other harmful additives, but the entire range of Weathertex timber products also have a better than zero-carbon footprint, storing carbon that would otherwise be emitted into the environment within the timber itself.

The manufacturing process begins with the processing and mulching of native hardwood trees, sourced from PEFC-certified forests. Weathertex maintains full Chain of Custody Certification for the timber to ensure it has come from a sustainable source and to provide peace of mind for consumers. Unlike other timber products, the water repellence of Weathertex’s Natural and Primed Ranges is provided with the three percent addition of natural paraffin wax to the timber, which permeates throughout the product.

Once the timber is mulched, it gets injected with high-pressure steam. This pulls apart base fibres and pre-cooks the chips, thereby removing most of the sugars and starches from the raw timber that termites would normally look for. A refining process reduces the fibre size further before excess water is drained and the now termite-resistant boards are formed.

At this point, typical timber cladding products would rely on the addition of binders, resins or glues in order to amalgamate the separate fibres to ensure durability. Instead, Weathertex utilises the natural lignin within the timber, liquefying it within a hot press and allowing it to bond to the fibres. This mimics the composition and durability of the original timber.

The hard boards are re-humidified to a stable 8 percent moisture content and planed down to the nominal 9.5mm thickness. From there, they can be made into any of the products that Weathertex have on offer – cut to size and run through moulders in order to give the panels standard profiles.

The fact that the Natural Range’s characteristics and weather ability are afforded without the use of any external products means that sustainability does not need to cost any more than unsustainable construction.

The standard ranges of Weathertex timber panels are not Platinum-rated due to their use of paint primer. Despite this, they have been certified with the highest possible Gold rating. This is due to the fact that, unlike many similar products, the primer itself contains no heavy metals. The lifecycle assessment shows that, even with toxins, correct management removes any chance of health and environmental impacts.

Weathertex undertakes regular quality assurance testing in order to confirm that all of the products shipped out comply with Australian and international standards. Their products have been tested and approved for use in bushfire prone areas, including and up to BAL 19, and are inherently termite-resistant due to the manufacturing process. All of their timber products ship with a 10-25 year guarantee not to rot, split or crack, demonstrating that long-lasting, high-quality architectural products need not hurt the environment.


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