Widening the span with wood
8th August 2019

Widening the span with wood

Sustainable forest Södra Wood Sweden

Builders know a ‘nice bit of wood’ when they see it. Yet today’s range of wood products, with their technical and climate change capabilities, are broadening builders’ horizons. With the help of our members, we brought Federation of Master Builders members up-to-date on timber products, treatments, standards and sustainability, enabling you to make the most effective choice for your projects.

The natural look and feel of wood has the ability to connect with people on a human scale, and is now a recognised component of ‘wellbeing’ in the built environment. From the builder’s perspective, wood is easy to work with and can swiftly produce good-looking results. Timber frame home construction now represents close to 30% of the market, delivering faster build times than traditional construction. For bespoke projects, from refurbs to extensions, builders’ merchants are starting to make new technologies like Glulam beams more readily available, to replace carbon-intensive steels.

In an era when the use of plastics in construction is increasingly being questioned, ancient solutions such as timber spout guttering can still be found if you look for them. Much progress has been made in other areas such as wood fibre insulation, being used where ‘healthy buildings’ are in demand. As timber technology develops, architects are also using CLT – cross laminated timber panels – for up-market domestic extensions, as well as for major housing projects across the country. CLT is thermally efficient, dimensionally stable, and produces less waste and greater acoustic performance.

East Brothers hardwood sawmill Wiltshire

The humble timber panel has also changed in response to different end uses. A form of MDF now exists which is water-resistant and has a 50-year service life above ground outside. OSB products can be manufactured with integrated fire retardant, which means the fire rating is maintained even when cut. Innovation has also produced gains in OSB’s strength, moisture resistance, and load-bearing capacity. Finding the right panel product for a specific need on a build has become a much easier prospect.

Perhaps the biggest reason why so much more wood is being used is its ability to lock up CO2 in the fabric of the wood. Building a typical 3-bedroomed house using timber wherever possible locks up around 19 tonnes of CO2, storing it in the wood fibre. International progress on sustainable forestry and legality of timber harvesting, and strict due diligence and auditing systems like our Responsible Purchasing Policy, means that in buying from a TTF member, builders can rest assured they are purchasing #TimberYouCanTrust