Timber has been a popular material in construction and archaeologists have found evidence that shows timber-framed homes have been around for almost 10,000 years.
The timber frame market found that the sector was growing at an 80% faster rate than the UK economy and according to the STA’s Timber Trends Report, in 2016, there were 56,000 timber frame homes.
Due to the ever-growing interest of environmental well-being, timber is becoming more popular in construction because of its sustainable appeal and has a market share of 32% in 2018. Using paper-based materials and woods, such as timber, help consumers, investors, governments and retailers feel assured that they are making positive change within the environment.
Timber is becoming a regularly used material in today’s world of construction and here we will discuss the advantages of using timber in construction for the consumer, investor and the environment.
Timber has a low thermal mass which allows a space created by timber frames to heat up faster than masonry construction and also allows it to cool down quickly, making it appealing to those looking for a cool house in summer and warm one in winter. This further helps to reduce costs left with the homeowner when structural issues such as damp take place. Common problems with treating damp can end up being costly.
By being an efficient insulator, using timber in construction decreases the amount of energy used and fossil fuels consumed. Further, the cost then of additional insulation for the consumer can be avoided and there will be less maintenance on their to-do list post-construction.
Speed of Build
On average, the time it takes to build and construct a house made from timber is much faster than those built from traditional materials such as brick and concrete.
Using timber is a mainly dry construction process, however, construction built with all-masonry walls can often require longer for mortar and plaster to dry, meaning that the build time can be extended by several weeks.
The moisture component of the timber stabilises after it is weather-tight and then dry plasterboard is used to further stabilise the moisture acclimatisation.
The speed of the build also allows consumers to spend less time and costs on temporary housing and insurance to cover the site. Homeowners that are trying to avoid moving out during a major home renovation can be at peace knowing the build will be quick. Further, construction companies can focus on fewer specialist skills and have a straightforward plan for their process.
Depending on the scale of the project, timber can be surprisingly cost-effective. Typically, a timber-framed building will be less costly than a steel one but more expensive than a brick build.
Using a mixture of steel and timber or brick and timber constructions make it easy for contractors to cut down on overall costs of material whilst maximising the effectiveness and style of the build.
However, when looking at a construction project holistically, timber requires less maintenance due to its durability and so in the long run, timber will always be more cost-effective.
Timber can overcome several treatments to make it stronger and more durable and one of these treatments is CLT timber – cross-laminated timber.
The CLT treatment for timber has become increasingly popular in the 21st century and enables the timber to be stronger and more stable for high rise buildings.
It is created by cross bonding at least three layers of timber followed by smaller sections that are formed into larger structural panels which are stable and lightweight in comparison to brick and steel.
CLT timber is a light material in comparison to other materials such as brick and steel which means that there will be lower costs in areas of the project, for example, transportation to the construction site and the amount of labour used to transport it.
Further, the mobility of timber will require less manual labour to specify it and so, therefore, making it cost-efficient.
Versatility and Specification
Timber is the most versatile building material when also looking at brick and steel.
CLS timber – Canadian Lumber Standard – is usually the go-to timber framing and construction for ‘studwork’ internal walls and it is treated to enhance smooth round edges and stability.
As timber can be cut and measured to custom sizes, it makes it an incredibly versatile material to use in construction and helps to create some of the most visually and structurally pleasing buildings around the world.
The timber can be specified to help first-time builders create their perfect home and prove it is even better when it comes time to sell!
Timber carries a minimised carbon footprint and is outstandingly eco-friendly, making it the perfect solution to construction.
The appeal of timber is becoming more appealing now more than ever before due to its resourceful and sustainable nature.
It can be reused and recycled with little effort, which is attractive to governments and investors who are looking to please larger communities and will continue to have a positive impact on the environment.
Although timber frames may not have changed much in appearance over the years, there have been many innovations to improve the comfort and efficiency of the build, including but not limited to insulation, draft control and vapour barriers.
Fewer On-Site Building Skills
Due to the nature of timber structures being able to be assembled off-site, they play an important role in supporting the current construction industry and the potential lack of available labour.
When there is a shortage of skills on-site, timber structures are beneficial to all and require less specialised skills and manual labour to construct and move.
The UK has only recently started to recognise the endless benefits of using timber in construction and there will continue to be a surge in the number of houses and high rise buildings made from solely timber frames.
As the world we live in becomes more and more progressive in terms of fighting climate change and sustainable energy, the use of timber in construction is only going to increase. Not only this but the cost-effective and low-labour demand for timber will continue to grow in the foreseeable future.
Which do you think is better when working in construction in the UK? Timber, brick or steel?