Advantages and Disadvantages of Timber in Structures

Advantages and Disadvantages of Timber in Structures

Timber has been used in structures for thousands of years, and as time has passed, it has developed to help the construction industry achieve the efficiency in the structures they create. Due to its versatility, this building material is still widely used due to its excellent load bearing and thermal insulation properties; we recently even saw the tallest all-timber building built in Norway.

This proves that timber will always be a staple in the construction industry, but with any building material, it does have its advantages and disadvantages which we have taken a look at below.


Versatility and Durability

As briefly mentioned above, timber is one of the most versatile materials used within the construction industry. This material can be bent into its required shape, connected to another material and much more. Many types of timber are capable of withstanding harsh weather conditions and are resistant.


The cost will, of course, depend on the scale of the project, but timber can be cheaper than a steel-framed building or masonry building, partially due to its speed of construction. If large open plan spaces are required, however, steel framing will likely be required to ensure structural stability.


Timber can be great for insulation on buildings, whether that is sound or heat. Timber tends to perform a lot better than steel or brick when used in external cladding to help keep the heat in, and this can be extremely beneficial for those looking to create a structure which is more efficient and environmentally friendly.

It is also important to know that timber is a renewable resource making it incredibly eco-friendly.


Shrinkage and Swelling

Timber is a natural material and may shrink or swell as it has the ability to absorb water. Timber should always be suitably treated depending on its use and exposure, and if left exposed to water rot can lead to loss of quality.


Condensation is a problem which can occur in any type of structure but having to deal with it can be extremely difficult. Condensation occurs when warm air from the inside touches a cold wall which has not been insulated well. If this happens to a structure which has a timber frame, it can rot the skeleton of the building.


If by any chance a fire breaks out, a timber-framed house will not be able to withstand the heat and flames in the same way a brick or steel structure would. Although a timber-framed house can be treated with fire retardants, this tends to slow down the surface spread of flames as well as reducing the production of smoke.

Choosing the right material completely depends on your given project, but each building material has its own advantages and disadvantages, there are many different materials to choose from.

However, timber will always be widely used throughout the construction industry, as one of its biggest advantages is that it is a natural resource, making it readily available and very economically.

It is important to remember that no construction material is perfect, and that is why a number of different ones are often used for each project. Aluminium is expensive, steel is one of the most popular materials but has a relatively poor strength to weight ratio, rusts in an untreated state and can sometimes be prone to brittle fractures.

If you require a structural engineer in Cornwall or just some advice on your building project, here at Martin Perry Associates, we provide a range of services from surveying to party wall services. If you have any questions, then please do not hesitate to get in touch on 01579 345777.

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