Meranti is a common name applied commercially to four groups of species of Shorea from southeast Asia, most commonly Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. There are thousands of common names for the various species of Shorea, but the names Philippine mahogany and lauan are often substituted for meranti. The four groups of meranti are separated on the basis of heartwood color and weight. About 70 species of Shorea belong to the light and dark red meranti groups, 22 species to the white meranti group, and 33 species to the yellow meranti group.
Meranti species as a whole have a coarser texture than that of mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) and do not have darkcolored deposits in pores. The grain is usually interlocked. All merantis have axial resin ducts aligned in long, continuous, tangential lines as seen on the end surface of the wood. These ducts sometimes contain white deposits that are visible to the naked eye, but the wood is not resinous like some keruing (Dipterocarpus) species that resemble meranti. All the meranti groups are machined easily except white meranti, which dulls cutters as a result of high silica content in the wood. The light red and white merantis dry easily without degrade, but dark red and yellow merantis dry more slowly with a tendency to warp. The strength and shrinkage properties of the meranti groups compare favorably with that of northern red oak (Quercus rubra). The light red, white, and yellow merantis are not durable in exposed conditions or in ground contact, whereas dark red meranti is moderately durable. Generally, heartwood is extremely resistant to moderately resistant to preservative treatments.
Species of meranti constitute a large percentage of the total hardwood plywood imported into the United States. Other uses include joinery, furniture and cabinetwork, moulding and millwork, flooring, and general construction. Some dark red meranti is used for decking.
*Much of the base wood information presented here is made available by the USDA FPL FS. If you are interested in a much more technical description of wood properties, I encourage you to visit the source.