Choosing Timbers For Your Home

by Scott Edwards
Jun
01

Once decided upon timber as a material, there are a number of things to consider which help ensure you choose the right species for your needs.

First of all, is the timber going to be located externally or internally, and what kind of finish and character do you want the timber to achieve? If your product will be outdoors and you are going to paint the wood your preferred colour, then there’s the possibility cost-effective softwood will suffice, as long as it receives the right treatments and aftercare. If however you prefer a wood with richer character and greater durability, then there are broad selections of hardwood timbers to choose from.

When using exterior hardwoods it’s advisable to look at those with a medium to darker natural colour as they will be less likely to show weathering. Lighter hardwoods such as oak, although very appealing, can tend to discolour easily if not well protected or in some way guarded from the elements. Certain hardwoods, for example American white ash are simply not suitable for exterior exposure at all.

There are specific exterior timbers best suited when you want to achieve a weathered effect, perhaps for a barn conversion or period building. Oak, Western red cedar and Iroko are good examples of natural timbers that will be consistently durable and achieve the desired look by turning silver over time.

If sustaining the natural character of the wood is your preference then a good quality sealant is essential. A clear, micro-porous varnish will allow the wood to naturally expand and contract without the sealant cracking and exposing the timber to the elements. However, there are many different kinds of coatings and their suitability may well depend upon the elevation the product will face, so consulting an expert before application is advisable.

For interior wood products that are being painted there is no great advantage of using hardwood, so a soft or redwood either stained or painted will meet almost any need. For hardwoods the focus is generally on character and contrast to the overall interior design concept. Therefore wood grain and colouration should be of paramount importance.

It’s important to realise that wood is a natural product and can subsequently expand and contract due to temperature and moisture changes. Although temperatures change externally, the quick temperature rises from heating systems in the home can cause timber to move, especially if the heat is directly aimed at the product. Always ensure your products are constructed from kiln dried timber with low moisture content. When installing new solid timber doors, stack the doors flat on top of each other and leave them to acclimatize for a few weeks before they are hung.

Your manufacturer should always advise the most suitable timbers for your purpose. Taking the time to make the right choice will give the greatest chance of your product lasting a lifetime.

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