It’s all in the detail
With so many rooflight manufacturers using plastic or white painted softwood for their interior finish, you might well wonder why Stella rooflights buck the trend and only use predominantly hardwoods. For us, the interior finish of our rooflights is just as important as the exterior and by using a natural and beautiful hardwood every Stella liner is as unique as our frames.
Timber comes in all shapes, sizes, and species whilst also being incredibly versatile. As well as some types of wood boasting natural strength comparable to stone and steel, timber can also be treated in a variety of ways to improve its capability.
To maximise its strength, timber will be put through a drying process. Wood subjected to drying is placed into a kiln until it reaches a moisture content of less than 28% to reduce the risk of distortion, staining, or drying stresses, such as warping or bowing. The wood used for a Stella rooflight liner would typically have a moisture content of around 12-14%.
The reduction in moisture will also increase the effectiveness of any preservative treatments you may want to apply. Indeed, some treatments – such as preservatives and the application of fire-retardant chemicals require timber to be treated before they can be utilised. Additionally, drying timber will reduce vulnerability to fungal decay and any bugs or insects will be eliminated during the process.
Timber is broadly classified into two groups – softwoods and hardwoods. You might be surprised to learn that these terms do not relate to the relative hardness of the wood but to the type of tree from which it comes. A good example is Balsa wood which despite being one of the softest woods of all, is technically classified as hardwood. The classification of timber is actually based on the species it comes from, rather than its hardness or density:
Softwoods come from coniferous trees, such as: true cedar, fir, pine and spruce.
Hardwoods come from broadleaved trees, such as ash, mahogany, oak and walnut.
It is a well-known fact that timber is a natural insulator – it stores heat during the winter and keeps cool throughout the summer – for this reason, it has been the number one building material for most of human history. Due to building requirements for energy efficiency, combined with new insulation materials, timber can offer greater thermal effectiveness than the equivalent thickness of brick.
As timber is considered carbon-negative, it has been confirmed by a host of international studies that timber construction is an environmentally responsible material to use.
The most popular choice of liner for our rooflights is American ash but we can produce your rooflight with any wood of your choice. A few examples of wood that we offer are:
The American Ash used on a Stella rooflight tends to radiate a beautiful light to medium brown colour which compliments most interior designs and colour schemes. It has a medium to coarse texture similar to oak and the grain is almost always straight and regular.
White Ash, an alternate name for American Ash, has excellent shock resistance which is why it is one of the most commonly used hardwoods for tool handles particularly in shovels and hammers where toughness and impact resistance is important.
American Ash would be our first choice of wood for customers who wish to have a painted liner finish.
Our European oak tends to hold a nice light to medium brown, commonly with an olive cast, though there can be a fair amount of variation in colour. Quarter sawn sections display prominent ray fleck patterns. Grain is straight, with a coarse, uneven texture. Oak may have irregular or interlocked grain depending on growing conditions of the tree. Other uses of European oak can be seen in furniture, interior trim, flooring, boatbuilding, barrels, and veneer.
Stella rooflight liners use European oak rather than English oak because it has fewer knots and blemishes. Although unique and often beautiful these traits are often seen as flaws in construction which is why we use the European version.
One of the most famous English Oak trees, The Major Oak, is a massive tree located in Sherwood Forest, in Nottinghamshire, England. The tree is estimated to be approximately 1,000 years old, and is purported to have been a common hideout for Robin Hood and his outlaws.
American Black Walnut
Another popular choice for our Stella rooflight liners is the American Black Walnut, otherwise known as Eastern Black Walnut. This wood can range from a lighter pale brown colour to a smooth dark chocolate brown with darker brown streaks. Figured grain patterns such as curl, crotch, and burl are also seen.
The grain is usually straight, but can be irregular from time to time with a medium texture and a moderate natural lustre.
Black Walnut is extremely popular among woodworkers as its cooperative working characteristics, coupled with its rich brown coloration puts the wood in a class by itself among temperate-zone hardwoods. To cap it off, the wood also has good dimensional stability, shock resistance, and strength properties.
Western Red Cedar
The Western Red Cedar comes in reddish to pinkish browns which often have random streaks and bands of darker red/brown areas.
Because of its low density and coarse texture, Cedar has incredibly good thermal and insulating properties. It is considered the best insulator amongst many other common softwood types and is far superior to brick, concrete, and steel. For this reason, it serves really well keeping your house warm in winter and has a great ability to dampen vibrations. It is often used in the making of acoustical structures, making it perfect for panelling and moulding for the place where it’s needed to reduce or confine noise.
Another prominent feature of cedar is a high decay resistance. The natural durability of western red cedar is due to the presence of extractives in it.
Stella rooflight customers often choose Cedar for high moisture environments such as bathrooms and kitchens.
Using Utile for your Stella rooflight internal liner will give you a warm reddish-brown colour that provides an interlocked grain with a medium uniform texture and lacks any dramatic figuring of grain that is common in the closely related Sapele. Regarded as a high-class hardwood, Utile is a durable working material imported from West Africa.
Sometimes called Sipo Mahogany, or simply Sipo, Utile is in the Meliaceae family, and is somewhat related to the true mahoganies found in the Swietenia genus.
It responds incredibly well to glues, nails, stains and polishes and is perfect for furniture, joinery, cabinet making and exterior work. Utile offers all the strength of standard mahogany with a strikingly exotic and distinctive look.
The Meranti timber used for Stella rooflight liners starts its life as a pale yellowish-orange when freshly cut but as it goes through the aging process and becomes a beautiful golden yellow-brown. It has a coarse texture with medium to large pores and the grain is sometimes interlocked. It also contains a high level of silica which is over 0.5% of dried weight.
Sometimes referred to as Lauan wood in the Shorea genus it is very commonly used in Southeast Asia and there is an abundance of variety between the difference species: each with different working properties, appearances, and mechanical strength values.
The Sapele wood used for our rooflight liners is a golden to dark reddish brown. Besides the common ribbon pattern seen on quarter sawn boards the grain is interlocked, and sometimes wavy. Sapele is also known for a wide variety of other figured grain patterns, such as quilted, mottled, wavy, beeswing, and fiddleback. It has a fine uniform texture and good natural lustre.
Sapele is a commonly exported and an economically important African wood species. It is sold both in lumber and veneer form. Occasionally used as a substitute for genuine Mahogany, and sometimes referred to as Sapele Mahogany. Technically, the two genera that are commonly associated with mahogany are Swietenia and Khaya, while Sapele is in the Entandrophragma genus, but all three are included in the broader Meliaceae family, so comparisons to true mahogany may not be too farfetched.
Painted Stella Rooflight Liners
Whilst we offer a range of stunning natural wood options for our liners, we understand that occasionally our customers may prefer to have a painted finish to match their interior décor. As such, we also offer a pre-painted liner finish to your required colour.
Our first choice of wood for painted rooflight liners is the American ash, or for bathrooms and high moisture areas, Cedar.
Our painted liners are produced using a high quality undercoat and two top coat finishes.