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

In the last few years, the derelict 12 acre walled garden adjoining Alnwick Castle has been transformed into a contemporary, public garden where an underlying planted structure unifies the Garden’s themes – spectacular water displays and quiet contemplative areas.

Inn The Park is a new restaurant in St James’ Park, the oldest of London’s Royal Parks. The brief from the client, the Royal Parks Agency (RPA), was ‘to create a high quality and low-profile building which must nevertheless advertise its presence.’