Why wood – pros and cons of timber construction

Why wood – pros and cons of timber construction

Why wood – pros and cons of timber construction


Astel Modular has been using wood as a construction material for building modular houses for decades. But why? Let’s take an look at the advantages and disadvantages of wood as a construction material.

Why does Astel Modular use wood as its main construction material?

The answer is simple – history and tradition. Wood is a construction material that is readily available to us, and with over 70 years of experience in manufacturing wooden houses we how to handle it. Over the years wood has become more popular as eco-conscious consumers turn away from non-renewable resources and look for greener alternatives.

But wood also has to be used sustainably and responsibly. This is why Astel Group made the effort to get FSC-certified.

Benefits of wood as a construction material

Wood has plenty of advantages, even before anyone has treated. Let’s have a look at some of the properties that make wood an excellent construction material:

Thermal properties

Many materials change their size and volume when the temperature changes. For example, steel expands when heat increases and contracts when it decreases. Wood does the opposite – warmer temperatures dry it out and strengthen it.

This is because the thermal conductivity of wood is very low, transmitting heat several thousand times slower than metal. This is why wood is often used for making handles of hot objects like kettles, but also used as a construction material. As a poor conductor of heat, a wood room stays toasty warm in winter, barely losing any heat to the air outside

Mechanical properties of wood

Wood is incredibly strong. There is a reason why laminated wooden beams are often used in the ceilings of wide-gap constructions like sports halls. When hung, as a result of its own weight, a laminated wooden beam easily beats the breaking length of hardened steel.

Electrical properties

Dry wood is a very good electrical insulator – the dryer, the better. What does this mean when comes to construction materials? Metals and plastics often make static electricity, sometimes at dangerous levels, but in wood static that is dangerous for humans is not observed. This is why wood is considered a healthy construction material.

Acoustic properties

Wood is not great at sound isolation. But its unique acoustic qualities make it a perfect construction material for studios and concert halls. Wood also echoes less than other materials.

It’s no coincidence that wood is often used for making musical instruments, where low friction, due to the lightness and structure of wood, minimises sound energy loss.

Maintenance and repairs

It’s generally easy and relatively cheap to repair and maintain wood. The materials and solutions for doing so are usually readily available and accessible to basically everyone. There are special techniques for restoring and maintaining older wood, but in general, wood can more often be repaired than it needs to be replaced.

Disadvantages of wood as a construction material

There are some disadvantages to using wood as a construction material, but these can easily be avoided or mitigated. Some of the better-known disadvantages are:

Shrinking and swelling

When it’s rainy and air is more moist, wood tends to swell. This happens because wood is a hygroscopic material. It absorbs condensable vapours and contracts when it dries out. This is why some doors jam easily in winter but have visible gaps in the summer.

Biotic deterioration

Wood is an organic material. This means that it provides nutrition to animals and plants. Insects can drill holes into wood or fungi might cause the wood to decay etc. But these processes can be avoided when construction wood is dried properly and treated accordingly by coating or impregnation.

Abiotic deterioration

Wood tends to catch fire. The organic compounds of wood are mainly carbon and hydrogen. Combined with oxygen, they burn. It is possible to make wood non-combustible using fire retardants and reduce its flammability significantly.

Wood as a construction material is the way forward

We know that using wood is the way forward in construction because right now it is the most sustainable of construction materials, and relatively easily renewable. As construction techniques evolve, wooden buildings have become less restricted in form, and now almost any building bar skyscrapers can be built (or manufactured) using wood as its main construction material.

Join us on our journey – get in touch here.

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    Assembly and construction of modular buildings

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