A natural and quality material with a long-standing tradition in architectural and construction work is wood. This makes sense for a lot of reasons and in this article, we talk about just a few of them. Plus, we talk about a few ways in which we can enhance and protect the properties of this ubiquitous construction material.
Wood has a lot of advantages, and one of the most basic ones is how much variety there is to choose from. According to the Botanical Gardens Conservation International, there are over 60,000 different species of trees that wood can be sourced from. And each and every one of them has its own unique properties. While some might be used for their aesthetic value like oak, or walnut , others are known for being the strongest wood in the world.
Speed and Simplicity
Building with wood is fast and simple. It’s easy to cut into the right dimensions, even on-site, without extremely heavy equipment. Some elements (like staircases and complex elements) can even be prefabricated, keeping construction times and costs down.
Insulation and Acoustics
Wood is great at retaining heat, unlike other materials like glass or concrete. This makes it a great insulating material, perfect for making buildings more energy efficient. This is due to wood’s low-thermal conductivity. Not only that, but it’s also great at absorbing sound and preventing echoes, which is why most instruments are made from wood. Depending on the purpose of the building itself, wood might be the perfect material.
Another great advantage is how easy wood is to maintain and repair. There are many products that can be applied to wood, like varnishes, oils, and paints that are effective almost immediately. And, if something needs to be repaired or replaced, it’s quite easy to repair. Besides wood, like all natural materials ages much better than many man made products
Clearly, wood has a lot of great natural properties. But, like any material, it’s not something that will last forever and can succumb to the wear and tear of time and the natural elements. Here are a few ways in which we can enhance and protect the properties of wood.
Stains and varnishes
The simplest way to modify a piece of wood is with a stain or a varnish. Because wood is porous, it readily absorbs these products, helping us change the color if we want, but also protecting it from the sun, moisture and parasites.
You are probably aware that moisture and wood are not best friends. By drying wood (during production), we minimize distortion, shrinkage and other problems that come with extended use and exposure to moisture and the natural elements in general. This is done in controlled kilns, or ovens before sandwiching the engineered layers together.
What we really want to do is preserve the state of the wood we use in its prime condition for as long as possible. There is a lot of research being done on eco-friendly varnishes to give wood different properties, like being anti-fungal, that would protect it and help it last longer.
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