When it comes to selecting timber for construction projects, two common options are green and brown timber. These terms refer to the treatment processes the wood undergoes rather than the colour itself. Choosing the right timber is essential for ensuring the durability, longevity and overall performance of the finished structure. In this article, we will explore the differences between green and brown timber and discuss when one may be more suitable than the other.


Wood is a highly versatile and sustainable building material that has been used in construction for centuries. However, it is also susceptible to decay and insect infestations. To mitigate these risks, timber is often treated with chemical preservatives to enhance its resistance to external factors such as moisture, insects, and fungi. The primary difference between green and brown timber lies in these treatment processes and the resultant appearance of the wood.

Green Timber

Green timber receives its name due to the slight greenish hue that it acquires after being pressure treated with a water-based preservative. This green colour comes from the copper content in the preservative. Due to its treatment, green timber is resistant to rot and decay as well as damage from insects such as woodworm. This makes it more suitable for outdoor use, especially for fencing, decking, and garden structures. However, the green tint may not be favoured by some when it comes to aesthetics.

Brown Timber

Brown timber, on the other hand, is similarly pressure treated but possesses a more traditional brown appearance. This is achieved by adding a brown dye to the pressure treatment process, enhancing the wood's appearance while still retaining the benefits of the protective treatment. As a result, brown timber is slightly more expensive than its green counterpart.

Performance Comparison

In terms of performance, both green and brown timber offer similar levels of resistance to decay, insects, and weather-induced damage. The primary distinction lies in their appearance and price. If aesthetics are a priority, brown timber may be the preferred choice for exterior projects where the wood will be highly visible. In contrast, green timber may be a more cost-effective choice for projects where appearance is less crucial, such as for functional outdoor structures like fences and raised beds.

Choosing the Right Timber

The decision between green and brown timber ultimately depends on individual needs and preferences. Some factors to consider when deciding between these two options include:

  1. Budget: Green timber is typically more affordable than brown timber due to the absence of an added dye, making it a cost-effective choice for large-scale projects.
  2. Aesthetics: Brown timber offers a more traditional appearance and may better suit projects where the final look of the wood is highly prioritised.
  3. Application: Both green and brown timber are well-suited for outdoor use but consider which option will better complement the overall design and aesthetic of the project.


Understanding the difference between green and brown timber is essential to make the best choice for your construction project. Both options offer protection against rot, decay, and insects, making them ideal for outdoor use. However, their differences in appearance and price may influence your decision. By considering factors such as budget, aesthetics, and application, you can select the most suitable timber for your particular needs and enjoy the long-lasting benefits of quality, treated wood.