Principles of green oak construction

Date Published

13 August 2022

Document Type





There is growing interest in green oak framing for a variety of reasons, from satisfaction in hand craftsmanship to the ecological advantages of using a renewable material.

This Wood Information Sheet (WIS) is an overview of the design and construction principles that specifiers should consider in order to ensure that green oak construction is correctly specified and that clients know what to expect.

The materials used, structural design and construction details are discussed, concluding with a helpful summary checklist of best practice tips for successful green oak buildings.

The content has been updated with some minor amendments and clarifications to the text and to incorporate references to the latest versions of British Standards and other documents cited.

Key Information

Green oak’ means European oak used before it has seasoned. Initial moisture content will be typically 30% or more. Other timbers can also be used, such as sweet chestnut and Douglas fir.

Anyone contemplating using this form of construction should be aware of some important characteristics of green oak construction that affect its appearance and weather resistance. These include the tendency to distort, crack and change colour if exposed to the prevailing weather.

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Case studies

Zaha Hadid Architects has designed a new building for St Antony’s College, Oxford, a beautifully crafted structure with a sinuous, shimmering stainless steel façade, positioned with great care alongside its period neighbours.

The holiday and sailing resort of Dartmouth in Devon was chosen by Sainsbury’s as their first new site to trial ‘green building’ in earnest across all aspects of the store’s design and operation.