There are many different subspecies of Shorea grouped here, the most common being: albida, glauca, laevifolia and laevis. These species are very common throughout Malaysia and Indonesia with some in the Philippines, all being large hardwoods growing within a range of 30 to 60 metres high.
The sapwood is usually very distinct being much lighter usually pale yellow.
The texture is fine to medium and even with the grain wavy and interlocked. Shrinkage rates are medium to low and all species are considered to be lyctid borer susceptible.
Balau has been widely used in South East Asia as a heavy construction timber as well as window joinery, boat building, beer and wine casks and in some cases veneer.
In Australia the timber has been regularly used for domestic decking and flooring, stair manufacture and window and door sills.
Note: Another group of Shorea spp. called Red Balau are sometimes offered as an alternative, these timber are slightly lighter in Density and of lower durability and should therefore be avoided for exposed external applications. Heartwood is usually a deep red-brown with the sapwood much lighter and easy to distinguish.