PAR or Planed All Round is one of the most common timber terms that, like the name suggests, means that the timber has been planed on all faces. This gives a flat, uniform finish to all the surfaces and sides. Benches and seating are most often specified with this finish type. This is because it is safest for human touch and aesthetically appealing. A good example where you can see the PAR finish is on the Accrington Town Hall War Memorial project. The photos clear show the smooth radius edges on the timber seating.
PR or Pencil Round refers to the finish on the corners of the wood piece. A straight edge is susceptible to spelks and is simply not comfortable to sit on, and so is not generally desirable for benches and seating. The corners are rounded off with a router and then given a light sand to ensure the best finish. Most seating is specified with pencil rounded edges, but the size of the radius can vary. We can pencil round timber from 3 mm up to 25 mm, but our normal is 6 mm.
Standard finishing generally refers to PAR timber that has been sanded up to 80 grit. This gives the timber a smooth-to-touch feel and is suitable for all types of outdoor seating and benches.
Polished finish is a finer version of SF timber. The grit used to sand the timber is much finer than 80 grit used in an SF finish, so the resulting finish is much smoother. It is rarely used in the outdoor furniture market due to the added cost and the weathering side that will ruin the finish in time. It may be an option though if the bench or seating is situated in a sheltered area such as under a canopy.
This term refers to the state of wood when it comes out of the sawmill, pre-planing or finishing of any type. It frequently has saw lines on it, and although straight, is rough to touch, and not safe for benches. Depending on the size of the timber, it will either have straight (band saw) cut lines or circular (circular saw) lines. This finish is rarely sent out for projects mainly due to the poor aesthetics and safety issues. It does not look the best, but if a post-industrial appearance is required it may be an option. It is much cheaper than other finishes. For more information on Rough Sawn timber, this blog may be of interest,
Most of these timber terms refer to furniture, however this term refers to a finish more common in the flooring industry. Old floorboards were planed flat by hand, and as the blades had a slight curve to them, it was not possible to get the timber completely flat. This gives a beautiful ripple effect to the timber and although expensive, is a very appealing finish. The fact that it is rarely used does not mean that it should not be used. In fact, we welcome opportunities to produce more timber street furniture with this finish as it does have a unique aesthetic.
Again, rarely used, this is a term more often used when referring to softwood finishes and is very striking. It is probably the most distinctive of these timber terms. To achieve this finish, a high-power wire brush is taken over the surface of the wood. This rips out the soft summer growth and leaves the hard winter growth standing on the surface. This makes the wood grain stand out much starker than before and creates an impressive finish for a softwood bench. The finish does not work so well with hardwoods due to the tighter grain. However hardwoods will still have an attractive worn look.