Design life for wood and wood-based products

Design life for wood and wood-based products

Date Published

6 September 2022

Document Type





The construction sector is under pressure to improve its cost effectiveness, quality, energy efficiency and environmental performance and to reduce the use of non-renewable resources. This has led to establishing the “bio-based economy”, which represents an increasing area of development globally and covers a wide range of activities incorporating bio-based material. “Bio-based” in this context means that the materials and products are made from renewable resources, with the criterion that a renewable resource recovers faster than it is drained, in contrast to many mineral and fossil resources.

Key Information

The development of new treatments such as wood modification, as well as an increased use of engineered wood products such as glulam and CLT, provide ways of achieving modern construction needs over reduced construction time. While timber, through its natural state, is at risk to biological decay, this can be reduced or circumvented in modern construction through a combination of correct material selection and design meeting use needs.

Increased understanding of performance in service, through projects such as WoodBuild, PerformWood and DuraTB, has led to modelling of products during their service life, as well as providing guidance for avoiding decay risks often associated with prolonged exposure to high moisture levels.

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Case studies

Studio Hagen Hall’s transformation of a constrained terraced house takes inspiration from the precision and elegance of sailing boat joinery, with ingenious storage solutions concealed within the bespoke elm veneer furniture and fittings.

Dungeness Beach in Kent is the largest area of shingle in Europe – 1,600 hectares of it. The harsh and dramatic landscape, dominated by the bulk of Dungeness B power station and dotted with a cottage or a fisherman’s weekend hut, is an architectural conservation area and has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) to preserve its unique ecology of grasses and shingle plants.