To make the right decision on a thinner access mat look at two things: Material strength and Total Cost of Ownership. The two are related because material strength is a good predictor of mat life and mat life is the biggest component and predictor of your Total Cost of Ownership.
You could make an access mat using poplar, but you wouldn’t want to use it.
Table 1 – Clear specimen data (Source: Wood-database.com)
Note that the above numbers are not design values. They are values based on testing. But, the relationship still holds: Poplar is not very hard or strong especially in comparison to Southern red oak. Definitely not strong compared with Eucalyptus!
So, if you are going to use a thinner mat, make sure you think about the following:
- The strength of the wood species: Stronger species generally yield stronger, safer, and more sustainable mat results. Unknown species or mixed species yield unknown or mixed results.
- The geometry and quality of manufacturing: Timbers should be square and hold together well as a unit. Irregular shapes in a thinner mat can create bigger issues than in a thicker mat.
- Examine the defects: If there’s missing wood or rot your timber mats isn’t going to hold together well. You are paying for something you didn’t get.
- Think more about strength and less about dimension: For example, a 4” thick Eucalyptus mat is roughly equivalent in bending strength to a 4.75” southern red oak mat. Or, a 4″ Eucalyptus mat is roughly equivalent to a five ply CLT. A 6.75” Eucalyptus mat has about the same bending strength as an 8” southern red oak mat.
- Look at Total Cost of Ownership. The lower the better.
Contact Jeff about our thinner mats or a custom TCO analysis and how a thinner Eucalyptus mat substitutes for a thicker mixed hardwood mat.