Timber has been used as a building material since as far back as the Medieval and Tudor times. Whilst it is a more traditional building material, it is not likely to go anywhere. In fact, it is becoming more and more popular and many builders are selecting timber to build all sorts of houses, apartments and structures. Timber is often widely used throughout UK homes for window frames, floor joists, staircases, roof trusses and internal walls.

Softwood timber frame dwellings have been erected in growing numbers since the 18th century, according to the Structural Timber Association (STA), and timber framed houses account for around a quarter of new housing in the UK and more than two-thirds in Scotland.

With everyone being more mindful of the environment, climate change and the increased need to conserve energy, the appeal of timber appears quite obvious. Timber frame offers the lowest CO2 impact of any building system, making it the material of choice when it comes to meeting new energy efficiency standards.

So, What Is Timber?

Raw logs are milled and go through a process where they are de-barked and then machined to either create chips, used to make sheet materials or lumbered to create beams or planks. These beams and planks are then often dried in a kiln and sometimes treated with chemicals to preserve the timber, making it last longer.

Timber used for flooring can be sourced from many different countries, each having its own industry standards and grading rules. There is a great choice of UK produced products however, Scandinavian timber is often of a much higher grading due to the slower growth and colder climate.

Is Timber Sustainable?

Yes it is.  It is a renewable building material meaning it is derived from natural resources and can be replenished.  Timber frame homes generally use less energy to build.  Minimal energy is used to fell, mill, transport and construct.  

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their carbon footprint and are switching from cheaper, widely available PVC doors and windows to timber instead.  Many would agree that timber is the best material to use for staircases also.  This is because the alternatives, concrete, metal and even glass, are more expensive and produce a much higher level of carbon.  

Are There Any Potential Problems With Timber Buildings?

Generally, timber has a good reputation for its longevity but with any type of material used in any type of construction, performance and durability problems can arise. Problems with timber are usually linked to errors in construction quality rather than the materials themselves. Research carried out by the BRE - Building Research Establishment - proves that well constructed timber frame buildings did not encounter any longevity or durability issues. The construction method used to erect such buildings must have a controlled design and build process alongside excellent workmanship.

Softwood & Hardwood - What & Where?

Timber is incredibly versatile and can be used to build everything from domestic homes to skyscrapers.  There are several things to consider when choosing the timber for your build, these include the type or species of wood, how it will be used and the intended method of application, its durability and if a flame retardant treatment should be used.  

Softwood is often created from European species such as western red cedar and southern yellow pine.  Both of these species tend to have very little knots and make them suitable for decking.  The durability of softwood depends on the treatment.  Pressure treated softwood can last up to 30 years if properly maintained.  Softwoods tend to grow quickly and generally cost less than hardwood.  

Hardwood is often used for interior designs, it is a dense timber which makes it a great choice for hard wearing home installations such as staircases, window frames and doors.

Timber Care & Maintenance

Timber requires a dry, clean and ventilated storage space.  It is not recommended to store timber in a new build as appliances and building materials can make the atmosphere moist.  Timber should usually be stored on pallets so that they are raised off of the ground and air can circulate preventing any moisture from warping it. 

External woodwork will naturally fade or discolour over time as it will be exposed to the elements.   This can be rectified and freshened up by cleaning, sanding and re-treating or painting.  The perfect job to carry out during the summer months as the warmer, drier weather allows the paint to bond well with the timber providing the most durable finish.  

KPT supplies high quality timber to the construction industry as well as individual customers and self builders. We offer the highest quality timber including joinery timber, planed timber, fencing, decking and more at exceptionally competitive prices.    

Sources: https://www.nortonabrasives.com/en-gb/resources/expertise/complete-beginners-guide-wood