Introducing wood

Introducing wood

Date Published

15 August 2022

Document Type




As a construction material, timber has a very distinct advantage over the alternatives, namely that trees are a living thing and therefore a renewable resource. With the use of correctly managed forests, timber represents an excellent way of creating a more sustainable construction industry.

The treatment of timber as a ‘crop’ which must be managed is something which is carefully adhered to in much of Europe, but remains problematic in other areas of the globe.

This Wood Information Sheet will give readers a general overview of timber as both a living, biological organism and as a construction material. This WIS explains the terms used when describing timber and their properties. It also covers the process of turning logs into timber, timber’s performance in fire, moisture content and chemical resistance.

Key Information

Hardwood and softwoods are grouped by whether or not the tree is cone-bearing, not by the hardness of the timber.

Durability refers to wood’s resistance to biodegradation. Sprecifiers can select species according to their durability rating.

Wood generally performs well in corrosive situations and, for this reason, is preferred for some insdustrial purposes.

Preservatives can increase the durability of wood. The most durable species are generally hardwoods, which are generally unsuitable for preservation because the wood does not permit the chemical to penetrate far.

Case studies

St. Clare’s is a private sixth-form college which provides courses in the International Baccalaureate. It was founded in 1953 and has 375 students, most of whom are boarders. The college is housed in a number of discreet “villas” along the Banbury Road, Oxford, one of which, a fine detached Grade II listed Arts and Crafts villa, was built in 1903 to the design of the architect Henry Thomas Hare, a former RIBA president.

The theatre accommodates a variety of formats to suit drama, dance, music theatre and musical performances as well as school assemblies. It is also a highly sustainable, low carbon building, achieved by the use of a timber structure and cladding together with a natural cooling and ventilation strategy.