Intergrain’s products and services are keeping Westfield Knox looking its best.

The number one thing that separates good builds from problem ones is collaboration. Because construction requires so many parts to come together well, the more each supplier can work with the others, the better the results, both at the start and for the lifetime of the structure.

The new Westfield Knox renovation in outer eastern Melbourne showcases this proposition. MASSLAM 45 glue-laminated timbers from Australian Sustainable Hardwoods (ASH) star in the graphic roofing system. And one key reason for the beauty of the design is the Intergrain coatings that protect those timbers.

“We’ve been working with ASH for several years now on a range of different finishing options,” says Gareth Connell, national specification manager at Intergrain Trade & Industrial. “That includes recommendations when people come to them with different proposals for their MASSLAM product.”

Intergrain’s Universal Timber Oil has become a significant part of that recommendation. “It’s a protective oil that ASH can apply to the timber product at its factory as a primer,” Connell says.

Daniel Wright is ASH’s national business development manager and has been helping to lead the uptake of timber in place of steel and concrete in larger commercial builds with the company’s range of MASSLAM products. “Our MASSLAM engineering team designed and engineered the mass timber roof system at Westfield Knox to be beautiful, strong and cost effective,” he says.

“It also has significant sustainability and wellbeing credentials, which emerged as priorities in our discussions with Scentre Group (Westfield).”

Scentre and ASH spent 12 months in those discussions, during which the ASH team introduced the Intergrain coatings.

ASH already primes much of its MASSLAM with Intergrain’s open-system (i.e. can be followed with water- or oil-based product) Universal Timber Oil. Because it can be wet-stacked, the oil is easy to apply in-house at the MASSLAM plant and the timber is then wrapped in a one-way vapour-permeable plastic wrap. This helps to deter damage as it’s shipped and stored on site. When it came to the final coating, ASH’s knowledge of Intergrain products again came to the fore.

“Sustainability mattered. MASSLAM 45 uses third-party verified sustainable timber, locally made by Victorians, exceeding the strict requirements needed to achieve the Green Building Council’s 6-star rating and also verified as being better-than-carbon-neutral through third-party EPD’s,” Wright says.

“We needed the coating system to both meet the low-VOC requirements of the specifications and perform well given the high level of prolonged UV exposure expected due to the large skylights. These timbers need to look good for a long time. Intergrain UltraClear has been proven by ASH’s in-house R&D team to perform in these environments over years of tests in mass timber systems and its now one of the MASSLAM team’s favourites.”


“This project shows what happens when you have partners who are well informed and when you have early involvement in the design and build process,” says Connell.

“We take a very consultative approach to component design, which includes: how these components are brought to site; how they’re stored at site; whether they’re assembled in situ… A major watch point for us at Knox was that most of the timber structure was being prefabricated at ground level and then stored for a period of time in areas that may not be protected from the elements.”

Given the weather in recent years and the visual importance of the timbers, protection was vital, and the priming with Universal Timber Oil gave that added reassurance.

“With that early involvement, we can work through and pre-empt some of the issues that can be expected with externally exposed timber if it’s not being protected,” Connell says. “We might suggest some technical or practical work-arounds to lessen the risk and maintain the look. And then our partners like ASH are able to add further to those.

“And while that’s vital on big builds like this, we can do the same for smaller builders, too, helping them to get the best results out of their timber with the fewest rectifications.”

This advice doesn’t end with completion. Intergrain has additional services available that offer a whole-of-life approach for their products in a building.

“We interface with the builder and client to organise an appropriate inspection schedule,” Connell says. “The team will use that to do a regular check of all the timber work and make sure there are no signs of any degradation. If there are, we provide solutions, which might be maintenance specifications, such as extra cleaning by their property service people, or using our network of accredited coaters to recoat when needed.”

It’s a level of care their clients appreciate. “When ASH is engaged to deliver a mass timber solution, we rely on our historic R&D to advise coating options tailored to the long term intent of the structure,” says Wright.

“There are a number of selection pathways you can take to meet each service life and Intergrain has these options. Intergrain’s service helps clients make an informed decision and that gives all of us confidence.”

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Image: Westfield Knox’s renovation featuring MASSLAM 45 timbers coated with Intergrain’s Universal Timber Oil and UltraClear.