Meranti shutters

Meranti Shutters Hinge on Quality

It’s commonly known that shutters were first used in ancient Greece to provide privacy and protect from light and the elements. From Greece, shutters spread west to Spain and England, which then influenced shutter use in the United States, where they can be seen on historic homes such as Monticello and Mount Vernon. Spanish-style shutters were most popular in the South, now known as Plantation Shutters, while the English-style shutters were most commonly used in New England. Over time, shutters have evolved in design and use, but remain popular to this day.

Centuries ago high-quality lumber species, like Mahogany, were often used for shutters, but with mass production and the post-World War II housing boom, manufacturers began using less expensive woods like Southern Yellow Pine. These soft wood shutters rotted and degraded more rapidly under constant exposure to rain, sun, and elements. Eventually vinyl, plastic, and other synthetic materials were used and while these didn’t rot like Pine, they looked cheap and  incongruous on an otherwise lovely home.

Today’s best millwork shops are returning to high-quality hardwood species like Meranti for shutters that last for decades, making them an excellent economical choice over the life of the shutter.

Nemesu Shutter sample.jpgMeranti is highly sought after for shutters for many reasons, both aesthetic and practical. For the homeowner, this wood species looks rich and warm with a stain, or looks just as beautiful with paint. With proper maintenance, either finish can last for decades.

Some importers selling Meranti market it as “DUC” (Dark Uniform Color) which is a misnomer, as there is a wide variance in appearance and performance. Unfortunately, this results in a product with disparate hues and poor quality. However, in order to deliver the enduring performance and more uniform appeal, Overseas Hardwoods Company offers two distinct, selected species of Meranti in its High Performance Lumber Products line. The first, Nemesu, is a dense/dark species, and the second, Dark Red Seraya, is a medium dense/dark species. Both have a rich, warm color range. By limiting our supply to two specific types, we ensure a consistent, reliable appearance and enduring qualities. Meranti also naturally resists rotting and pests, thanks to naturally-occurring oils in the wood, which is why it works well in exterior applications. Additionally, Meranti machines well, stays flat, and doesn’t warp, if painted or sealed correctly. It cuts well when going through the moulding machine, and doesn’t beat up the machinery.

Meranti is the economical choice for high-quality, long-lasting exterior shutters. They’re beautiful, durable, and have a long life.



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Baton Rouge flood surprise

 When the rain started falling in Baton Rouge on August 11, no one suspected that it would continue for three days and lead to catastrophic flooding. By now, we all know the scale of the flood: six lives lost; 20,000 people rescued; and over $8 billion dollars in damages. Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out all those affected by the wrath of Mother Nature



Silver linings sometimes occur during catastrophic events

While the area was in the earliest stages of recovery, a millwork shop owner began assessing the damage and loss of his work. Because of the heavy rain, he was unable to deliver any completed doors to their work site, so he was forced to keep them in the shop. This meant, unfortunately, that quite a few were submerged in up to three feet of water for several days.  

Once the water receded, he began the emotional and physical hard work of culling his damaged product. He lay the completed Meranti doors out to dry but never thought they might be salvageable. Once they finished drying he discovered something remarkable: the Meranti doors  and shutters hadn’t warped or twisted at all, as compared to doors made of other wood!


Meranti wood is known for its durability and ability to withstand wet conditions, but this level of stress had never been tested on entire doors before.

The Baton Rouge millwork shop owner was able to sand the watermark off his beautiful (and valuable) doors, stain or paint them, and deliver them to their final destination. In the midst of so much destruction of property and loss of income, this one surprising turn of events brings hope and joy to one small business owner in Baton Rouge.

As for the Meranti, does anyone recommend submerging it in water for several days? Certainly not! However, the anecdotal evidence does show that this beautiful, dense, exotic hardwood is even more durable and stable than previously thought.




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Featured Project: Spring Hill College

Located atop a scenic hill in Mobile, Alabama, Spring Hill College has enjoyed a long reputation for excellence in the Jesuit tradition.


In fact, Spring HIll College is the state’s oldest institution of higher learning, founded in 1830 by Mobile’s first Catholic bishop. Spring Hill is also the first Catholic college in the Southeast, the third oldest Jesuit college and the fifth oldest Catholic college in the United States. Besides these historic accomplishments, it’s currently ranked by as one of America’s Best Colleges. Additionally, Spring Hill College was one of the first Southern colleges to integrate racially, and was even mentioned by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who praises Spring Hill in his 1963 Letter From Birmingham Jail.

A college with such a notable history and strong presence deserves to have a beautiful campus. Two of the buildings on campus, the Arlene Mitchell Theater and the Arthur R. Outlaw Recreation Center, prominently feature Meranti wood from OHC. Meranti was chosen primarily for its beauty and as an essential component of the campus’ tropical colonial architecture, which combines red tropical hardwoods with white stucco and other white elements.

Meranti is an excellent species for the balmy, tropical location, as this species of wood naturally resists damp conditions.

Students and other patrons of the Arlene Mitchell Theater enter through a set of large, handsome Meranti doors and transoms, immediately stepping into an inviting lobby lined with Tongue And Groove Meranti panelling stretching from floor to ceiling. The dramatic entry is appropriate to the drama that takes place inside the theater. Tongue And Groove panelling, which is a ¼” or ⅛” bevel on two of the edges of the face of the board, enhances the appearance of the wood by calling attention to the length of the board and the height of the wall. This technique is purely aesthetic, and is machined in-house by OHC.

The lobby of the Arthur R. Outlaw Recreation Center also features beautiful Meranti elements. A large trophy case lined with Tongue And Groove Meranti panelling contains the many athletic awards earned by Spring Hill College students over the years. The awards deserve to shine in a beautiful home, and the warm, rich Meranti handsomely contains them. The railings and bannisters in the Rec Center are also crafted from Meranti. They’re beautiful, and are durable enough to withstand the large numbers of students and community members who attend games, classes, and other events in the building.

OHC is proud to have supplied high-quality Meranti to Spring Hill College, a university with an esteemed history and a longstanding place in the Mobile community.

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Spring Boat Commissioning Checklist

Flowers are blooming, temperatures are rising, and you’re starting to imagine yourself out on the water with the wind in your hair and a light spray of water across your face. The only thing between you and your dreams is commissioning your boat for spring!

boat and yacht commissioning

Here are some important areas to check to get your boat ready for the season:


This is a great place to start, as it will take the most time and create the biggest mess. If you didn’t change the oil before winterizing your boat, do so now. This will eliminate water and acid buildup, as well as preventing corrosion, poor fuel economy, and engine failure. While you’re changing the oil, replace the oil filter as well. Flush the cooling system and replace antifreeze with a 50/50 ratio of water to coolant. Replace seawater pump impellers on main engines and generators. Check all fluids and even lights. Install fresh spark plugs. Reconnect fuel lines and tighten or replace hose clamps if needed. Replace the batteries and perform an engine test.

Canvas and Vinyl

Check all vinyl and canvas items, including bimini top, seats, and covers for tears, dirt, and mildew. Repair any tears or holes and clean with an appropriate cleaner.


Inspect the hull for blisters or cracks, as well as chalky residue. Repair any blisters or cracks. The gelcoat on the exterior repels water and keeps the outer surface looking smooth. If you discover a chalky residue, it likely means oxidation is present. If only light oxidation is discovered (the finish will look mostly shiny with a few dull patches), then an oxidation removal compound may be applied and will restore the shine. For more severe oxidation, buffing and/or sanding will be required and professional intervention may be necessary. Once the gelcoat is restored, keep it cleaned and polished throughout the boating season using proper cleaning agents and polishes. Clean the rest of the exterior using a marine-safe cleaner. Apply a fresh coat of wax to the hull.


The metal and wood components, known as brightwork, bring beauty and personality to your boat. These parts need to be cared for to prevent pitting and degradation. To care for the metal, use a specialized metal polisher. For Teak or Meranti, it’s best to lightly sand and then apply stain and varnish. Four coats of varnish are the minimum for UV protection, but eight to twelve coats offer superior protection and less maintenance over time.

Electronics & Interior

Test all electronics, including radio, GPS, depth finder, compass, and any other marine electronics. This way you won’t be caught off guard on the water if you discover an electronic component isn’t working properly. Clean the interior thoroughly to remove dirt and debris. Dirt and debris invite moisture and moisture brings rot.

Boat Trailer

An often-neglected part of boating, you will increase the life of your boat trailer with a little care taken every year. Prevent rust by keeping it painted, repairing dings and nicks, and rinsing off salt water with fresh water. Check the winch straps and chains for wear, and lubricate winch if necessary. Check the bearings, light bulbs, tire pressure, and the license plate. Getting a ticket for an expired license plate is not the way to start off boating season!

Safety Gear

It can be easy to overlook this important component, but it’s essential to have all signaling devices, hand pumps, life preservers, first aid supplies, and fire extinguishers in good, working condition. Check expiration dates on anything with time-sensitive components.

Taking the time to adequately prepare for boating season will pay off in the long run with fewer repairs and hassles, ultimately giving you more time to enjoy your boat.

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Featured Project: St. Lawrence Catholic Church

It’s been said that humans have a primordial need to build wooden structures, stemming from eons of building and living in them. The stunning millwork in St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Fairhope, AL fulfills that need, creating a feeling of warmth and security for its parishioners.


A contemporary, octagonal structure capable of accommodating 600 worshippers, the interior of the building mixes brickwork and millwork to achieve a warm but airy space.

Meranti Dark Red Seraya was the first choice for the millwork, due to its striking beauty and durability in the continually changing climate of the coastal location near Mobile Bay.


St. Lawrence Catholic Church faced a special challenge with its design: the 40-foot wood panels on the walls and ceiling needed variation and depth to avoid monotony and heft. Fortunately the beautiful grain and skilled custom millwork break up these substantial sections. Also, the gorgeous natural color of the Dark Red Seraya complements the pink/red tones of the brickwork, creating contrasting textures and producing an aesthetically pleasing mix.

The architects utilized gapped siding to show off the Meranti Dark Red Seraya and break up the large wall and soffit sections. Instead of placing the boards right next to each other, the designers left a space in between, highlighting the character of each individual plank.

Overseas Hardwoods Company’s Meranti Dark Red Seraya is known for its workability and its proficiency at remaining stable and lying flat in service. 


The cupola in the center of the sanctuary lets in natural light, breaking up the paneling and playing up the differing appearance of the wood. Although the same wood species and the same finish was used for the panels and the cupola, the cupola looks quite distinct from the soffit. Meranti boasts a tight grain structure, allowing designers and builders to use the same species but achieve different looks, depending on the light.



Another interesting detail of the cupola are the decorative circles nestled between support beams. Intended merely as a point of interest, these circles speak to the workability of the wood. OHC’s Meranti provides a restrictive premium grade that includes PHAD (Pin Holes Are Defects), meaning architects and millwork companies have a greater latitude in design and creativity due to the absence of virtually all defects. 

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Is Philippine Mahogany A True Mahogany?

Here's the truth behind Philippine Mahogany:

Vintage boat with Philippine Mahogany

The term "Philippine Mahogany" was used largely in the 1950's and '60's to describe wood species used on luxury boats or yachts.

For many years the Meranti wood species has been known as "Philippine Mahogany." Philippine Mahogany is a term that generally applies to a number of wood species native to southeast Asia. Confusingly, Philippine Mahogany is not actually a type of Mahogany at all. Many types of wood have co-opted the name but aren’t truly Mahogany, such as Royal Mahogany and East Indian Mahogany. “True” Mahogany comes from the Swietenia and Khaya genuses, while the name “Philippine Mahogany” has been used to describe many types of lumber species from the Shorea genus. (Things get even more confusing when buying lumber in Australia, where wood from the Shorea genus is marketed as Pacific Maple!)

Philippine Mahogany encompasses many different varieties of wood that have been offered by non-traditional lumber companies, creating negative results and a bad rap for the name. The five main groupings (based on heartwood color and weight) for Philippine Mahogany are Light Red Meranti, Dark Red Meranti, White Meranti, Yellow Meranti, and Balau.

Each of these types not only has a different appearance but has different mechanical strength values and different working properties.

Many Philippine Mahogany/Meranti importers in the United States sell a commercial grade known as DUC (Dark Uniform Color), but unfortunately, actual uniformity has been sorely lacking. This grade has wide variances in grain, color, and tone.

Out of all of the false Mahoganies, those in the Shorea genus probably come the closest to genuine Mahogany in look and workability. Philippine Mahogany/Meranti has been used for centuries as a less expensive substitute for Mahogany and is an excellent choice for everything from structural work, boat building, outdoor furniture, and decking.

All true Mahogany species in their native countries are listed in Appendix II of the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Philippine Mahogany/Meranti is not listed on CITES II, making it a more ecologically sound choice.

Meranti and Philippine Mahogany are two names for the same species of wood, but in order to be more precise and deliver a more uniform and consistent product, Overseas Hardwoods Company (OHC) has decided to focus on two specific types of Meranti. 

DR_Seraya_front_grain.jpgClassic Meranti Dark Red Seraya

Nemesu (Left) & Dark Red Seraya (Right)

Meranti Nemesu is a dense/dark species, and Meranti Dark Red Seraya is a medium dense/dark species. Both have a warm, luminous appearance with consistent color and grain variation, and a high degree of workability.

Thanks to OHC’s outstanding reputation as a top source of high-quality lumber, you can eliminate uncertainty and count on a reliable, consistent product when you choose Meranti for a project.

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Featured Project: St. Ignatius Catholic Parish

It’s rare to find a church that feels both sacred and inviting. St. Ignatius Catholic Parish in the College Park area of Mobile, AL is one such church. Worshipping together since 1937, the church dedicated its first building in 1978, added a vestibule in 1979 and completed a major choir loft renovation in 2015. 


Mobile’s coastal climate requires a high-functioning wood species, but just as high on the list of specifications was a wood that would age with beauty and create a warm and inviting space.

Thanks to its reputation for withstanding high humidity and resisting rot, Meranti Nemesu was utilized in the church’s original construction. Therefore any new renovations needed to match the look of the existing millwork.



Any millwork shop, builder, or architect is concerned with the durability of a wood species. Walking through St. Ignatius and comparing the wood from the 1970s to that of the 2015 construction gives a good sense of how this particular species of wood ages. Not only has it held up without warping or unseemly wearing, the Meranti Nemesu has mellowed into a dark chocolate finish that very nearly glows.

The rich, organic feel of the Meranti Nemesu millwork in St. Ignatius expresses the warm and inviting atmosphere of the building.


The expansive coffered ceiling, which is inset with lighting, plays up Meranti’s natural glow, reflecting light as it bounces from surface to surface. This design element shows off the wood’s beauty, but also diffuses and softens the light in the sanctuary. The oculus directly above the altar also lets natural light in, adding another dimension of light and warmth to the room.



The paneled wall and inlaid icons complement the building’s atmosphere. The icons, which are painted onto a golden background, play up the wood’s natural glow and gold undertones. The icons and Nemesu panels are so lustrous that they appear to be subtly lit, but are simply reflecting the ambient light of the church.



The modern stained glass windows seen throughout the church invite contemplation of the sacred, marrying contemporary design with biblical and ecclesiastical iconography. The amber, chestnut, and ochre tones of the stained glass echo the rich tones of the paneled walls surrounding them. Additionally, the circular shape of many of the stained glass windows repeats the circles seen in the heavy wood doors of the church, creating a pleasing sense of continuity.




The parishioners of St. Ignatius worship together in the original church pews from 1978. Each pew, milled from a single board of Nemesu, has no seam, and has borne the wear and tear of constant use for nearly 40 years, but they look just as beautiful and welcoming as the day they were installed.

Meranti Nemesu is available in extra wide (12”) cuts as well as extra long (8’ to 22’), making dramatic design possible.


Several design elements in the church would not be possible without OHC’s long cuts of wood. These seamless boards are featured on the coffered ceiling, the vestibule, the altar dais, and the paneled walls of the choir loft. The planks emphasize the height of the sanctuary, drawing your eyes up, as befits a house of worship. It simultaneously makes the space feel both vast and intimate, which is quite a feat.



A particular challenge for this project was the large sections covered with wood paneling. With Meranti Nemesu’s varied grain and slight variation in color, the wall has ample depth and character which prevents it from appearing dense and monotonous, like a large brown painted wall.

St. Ignatius Catholic Parish has welcomed multiple generations of worshipers to its building, and with the beauty and longevity of its Meranti Nemesu millwork, it will last for many generations to come.

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