Make the most of our timber knowledge

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Knowledge is the most powerful weapon that any company can have at its disposal – and that’s especially true for builders’ and timber merchants. Timber Development UK’s David Hopkins reveals the latest educational resources available to timber and builders’ merchants.

The merger of the Timber Trade Federation and the Timber Research and Development Association (TRADA) has brought together two of the biggest timber organisations to create a comprehensive supply chain body that spans from sawmill to specifier, and all points in between.

The newly formed Timber Development UK (TDUK) now sits at the very heart of the timber supply chain, helping to better connect our members with each other just as merchants sit at the heart of the construction product industry, connecting suppliers with tradespeople.

As the construction industry continues to evolve post-pandemic and the net-zero challenges that we face become clearer, TDUK is determined to lead the best-practice charge and accelerate the UK’s move towards a low-carbon future. We’re building the largest, most comprehensive online library of technical specification and design guidance for our members, offering merchants the tools and training they need to upskill to a sustainable timber supply chain.

We want to position timber as the first choice for any UK construction project, maximising its sustainability credentials as the best route to decarbonising our built environment. But we know that many other building materials are more commonly used by tradespeople, so we’re working hard to change that.

Merchants – and timber specialists in particular – can help lead the way to a more timber-focused construction industry by making sure their staff are experts in the different timber species they stock.

We already offer a wide range of knowledge and educational tools that you can use to upskill your own staff on the latest Building Regulations, as well as the various industry initiatives designed to promote the use of timber. You can also take advantage of a wide range of free online training guides on subjects such as strength grading, timber fixings, roof battens, cladding, decking and preservative timber treatments. These guides can be accessed online and give merchant staff a thorough understanding of the different types of timber they may come across in branch, as well as answers to some of the frequently asked questions that their customers might be seeking advice on before purchasing.

We’re also currently working on a brand-new Handbook – The Merchant Guide to Selling Timber – which will bring many of these subjects together in one easily digestible reference guide for merchants of all sizes.

We’re also working with NMITE and Edinburgh Napier University to create a new series of Timber Technology Engineering Design courses to encourage the building of net-zero structures using sustainable materials, such as timber. The 12-week Timber TED (technology engineering design) courses have been split into three modules covering design, materials, sustainability, construction and manufacture, and are open to anyone who works in the built environment industry, including merchants. By the end of the course, students will be able to design and execute a sustainable built-environment structure using timber, as well as developing a thorough understanding of timber construction.

You can find more information on the Timber TED courses and all our merchant-specific training resources online at

  • This article was originally published in the October 2022 issue of Builders’ Merchants News.