Non-destructive testing of timber

Non-destructive testing of timber

Date Published

22 August 2022

Document Type




Non-destructive testing (NDT) may be defined as ‘any means of determining the properties of a material, without causing significant changes to those properties’. This definition permits some degree of damage, providing the performance of the material, in this case timber, is not affected.

This Wood Information Sheet is an introduction to non-destructive testing of timber in buildings and other structures for architects, Design > Engineer;s, surveyors and building inspectors. The various NDT techniques are discussed, together with their capabilities and limitations.


When to use NDT techniques
NDT techniques
Use of NDT in surveys
Further reading

Key Information

Non-destructive testing (NDT) techniques minimise disruption and the need for opening up works during the preliminary phase of a building investigation.

The most NDT techniques currently applied t timber are decay detection drilling, endoscopy and load testing.

Case studies

The Hurlingham Club, founded in the 1870s, is a famous sports club with a Georgian clubhouse, polo grounds, croquet lawns and tennis courts set in 17 hectares of picturesque grounds alongside the Thames in Fulham, London.

Westonbirt, the National Arboretum near Tetbury in Gloucestershire is one of the most spectacular collections of trees in the world.