Why Timber Cladding Has Become so Popular with Specifiers

Why Timber Cladding Has Become so Popular with Specifiers


In the last five years, we have seen a rapid growth in demand for timber as a material and for want of a better word to finish a building off in the form of timber cladding.

To give you some idea of the size of the timber cladding market, the Timber and Decking association estimated the timber cladding market in the UK was around £30m in 2007. In 2015 this doubled in size to £60m and it is expected to grow quickly to £90m by the end of 2018 and it is generally felt that it will continue grow rapidly beyond this.

The first reason which really started the ball rolling was accreditation. Since the introduction of the FSC and PEFC accreditation for timber companies it is possible to verify that any given piece of timber comes from a sustainable source. This is because it follows the timber from where is was felled right through to the point of final purchase.

So once timber had re established its environmental credentials this coincided with greater interest in global warming and a growing interest in understanding and measuring the level of emissions associated with a wide range of human activities.

One approach has been the development of a carbon footprint which basically attempts to assess emissions associated with each stage of a product during its life cycle.

In line with this it became more apparent to specifiers and end users there were many reasons to use wood for environmental reasons and a few of these are as follows.

• Wood is carbon neutral because trees absorb Co2 as they grow. In-fact, because of the Carbon Sink effect of forests, wood from sustainably managed forests can actually be better than carbon neutral.

• Wood has the lowest embodied energy of any mainstream building material. Compared to sawn softwood the amount of energy required to produce other materials are as follows. A ton of bricks requires four times, concrete five times, steel six times and aluminium 126 times.

• Europe’s forests are growing by over 1,500,000 acres every year the equivalent of three football pitches every hour, and over 97% of the softwood used in the UK comes from European forests.

• Trees absorb one tonne of Co2 and produce three quarters of a tonne of oxygen for every cubic meter grown.

• Wood is waste efficient. Virtually all parts of a tree can be utilised. Even waste products are converted into particleboard and chipboard. Wood is recyclable, it can be disposed of safely and it is biodegradable.

• Wood is available in a wide variety of densities, colours, strengths and sizes.

• The technical performance of timber is covered by many British and European standards and there is readily available technical data for the properties of timber

• The cellular structure of wood provides good thermal insulation. The equivalent thickness of wood is four and a half times better than brick, 15 times better as an insulator than concrete, 400 times better than steel and over fifteen hundred times better than aluminium. For example a 2.5cm board has a better resistance to the loss of heat than 11.4cm brick wall.

As trees need little more than sunlight and rainfall to grow, wood from sustainably managed forests is not just carbon neutral, its carbon positive and the UK Government has signaled its intention to include sustainable forestry as part of its larger strategy to address climate change.

3 tonnes of C02 can be saved by using timber frame from the 20 tonne C02 footprint of a typical 3 bedroom detached house. Increasing the timber content to include softwood cladding and other areas where timber can replace other materials can reduce the footprint to 2.4 tonnes – a total reduction of 17.6 tonnes C02 (Edinburgh Carbon Management Report – Carbon benefits of timber in construction).

So the reasons for using timber and timber cladding from an environmental point of view are clear and Brookridge Timber has been at the forefornt of supplying timber cladding both in the south west and nationally

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