Wood – decorative and practical

Date Published

11 August 2022

Document Type




An overview of the considerations you should take into account when selecting and specifying a timber species for use in the UK. It includes colour photographs of a core selection of 50 timbers which are generally available or are commonly used in the UK, along with information on their suitability for typical uses.

Key Information

Timbers are usually divided into two types, which are distinguished botanically: softwoods and hardwoods.

For structural timber, ensure that the correct strength grade is selected.

Durability classifications for timber relate to the resistance to fungal decay of the heartwood.

Case studies

Cowan Court was needed to house Churchill College’s growing undergraduate numbers, many of whom had to live offsite. It was also important that the building would centre the students in the campus, would be environmentally sound and fit within its historic surroundings.

The building follows the form of a pair of railway carriages; their long single-storey shapes with gently arched roofs are linked by a lower roof and one of the pair is set further back from the other, as if they were passing on different tracks.