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Timber, Commonly Asked Questions Answered

What Is Timber?

Timber is just another word for wood and is often used as a building material, it is normally treated and processed into planks or beams.

You can buy timber pre-cut to a measurement of your choice and to suit your project or it is available to purchase at a standard size.

There are 2 main types of timber, softwood and hardwood and they are distinguished by their reproductive systems.

Softwood trees are known as a Gymnosperm which reproduce by forming cones and produce seeds which is spread by the wind to other trees. Usually found in a large area, these trees are evergreen and keep their leaves or needles all year round. The Gymnosperm tree such as the Conifer often drops its seeds by itself, the tree drops the seeds in a cone like case, when the seeds are disturbed, they release spreading over the land to grow.

The Hardwood is an Angiosperm, these trees produce seeds that are enclosed in a shell for example fruit or nut, which when disturbed releases seeds for re growth, these trees can grow flowers which attracts birds and insects. The birds and insects then fertilise the plant and assist in carrying the seeds over the land to grow. These trees are deciduous and tend to lose their leave in the autumn months.

Redwood and Whitewood timber is very popular in the UK, Redwood is often from Pine trees and is grown in a cooler climate, this means the tree will grow slower and this results in a tighter grain in the wood.

Whitewood is often from a spruce tree, as this tree is grown in wetter climates it is common for the grain to distort as it is looser. This type is more suited to construction carcassing as the redwood is better at taking fixing than the white wood.

Why Use Timber?

Timber is often used as it is more sustainable than other wood materials available. As timber is a good sustainable source of material, this means the wood is renewable as well as biodegradable.

Timber is also adaptable and can be cut in different ways to produce different look and durability and each cut provides a different quality of wood.

Softwood can become brittle and its strands become loose at the point of cut, whereas hardwood stays strong when cut as the wood is more compact as there is more cellular tissue present.

With the price of softwood timber being cheaper than hardwood or other wood alternatives, softwood is very popular in the construction industry. Softwood timber is frequently used for building structures and the use of building roofs and walls and due to the wood having a good absorption attributes and is sustainable.

Different Cuts of Timber

There are 3 main ways of cutting timber, each type of cut can define the woods strength and aesthetics.

The most popular way to cut the logs would be plain sawn, it is also the cheapest option out of the three. In this cut the log is rotated to a 90-degree angle, this ensures that the annular rings are less than 30 degrees to the face of the wood, this is often referred to as a tangential grain.

Quarter sawn gives a straight grain cut and is more stable than plain sawn, this cut produces more waste. As it is less efficient, this makes the wood more expensive to purchase. Quarter sawn timber is stronger than plain sawn wood due to the tight grain pattern produced by cutting against the growth rings

Rift sawn is the third option, this cut gives a straight grain feature with little or no fleck. This type of cut is the most expensive to purchase but it is the strongest cut available and can offer lots of design possibilities. This cut produces a near straight grain pattern and like quarter sawn wood the rift cuts are stronger and smaller than plain sawn timber.

What Are The Environmental Benefits Of Using Timber?

There are many advantages of using timber, the wood is readily available throughout the seasons which is mainly due to its quick growth, this makes the wood cheaper than other building materials available on the market.

As timber is a light and versatile material it makes it easy to work with, allowing us to cut it into many different shapes and sizes. With the wood being anti corrosive is often used for outside construction.

Timber can be recycled meaning instead of throwing it away, it can be used again and remade into a new product. This not only helps the environment but helps to positively address climate change, due to its sustainability and it is also carbon neutral.

Using timber as a material for designing and creating can give a warm and comforting feel and can provide a wide range of textures and finish options. The use of timber in building can be sustainable for renovation projects and newbuilds, the material is easy to repair if needed and can be easily complimented with a range of preservatives and treatments.


Why Use Timber Treatments?

Wood is an economical and renewable building resource, but if it is not treated it could leave the wood open to infestations of micro- organisms, insects and fungi growth.

Treating wood with treatments and preservatives can prevent these attacks and enhance the life of your material. When purchasing Timber there may be an option to buy pre-treated wood or you can simply do it yourself with paints and stain treatments.

You should treat your material regularly throughout the year to prevent it against the elements and any disease, coating around 2 or 3 times.

At C & W Berry we offer 2 types of treatments, an internal and external coloured treatment. These are undertaken by our timber experts on site and the treatment is injected into the wood to provide maximum protection. The wood is treated in specialised pressurised treatment tanks by our experts and provides effective protection against all forms of wood decay and insect attacks.

What Is Timber Certification?

There is a rising demand for responsibly sourced wood products, most timber merchants should be able to supply you with certification to show it has been sourced by ethical and sustainable resources.

This certification should represent the process of handling information and ensures the source provides accurate claims for the material to be sustainably certified.

What Do The Different Timber Grades Mean?

 At C & W Berry we stock 3 grades of timber, there is an option for a 4th grade from certain countries but due to its lower quality it is not something we would source.

There are 6 grades of timber available, most commonly referred to as first to sixths, with first being the best quality. This is due to the number of knots and it also has the tightest grain, whereas the sixths has the most knots and loosest grain.

The reason for timber grading is because the wood is sorted manually, the firsts to be extracted would be the sixths, then fifths and on occasions fourths.

Unsorted is the best grade available as the manual sorting process never separates the thirds or seconds. This grade has had fourths removed unlike sawfalling which incorporates it within.

What Is Structural Carcassing Timber?

C & W Berry stock 2 grades of structural timber, the majority is graded by our in-house qualified timer graders. We supply C16 which is the most cost-effective option available and meets the performance and requirements of most applications.

We also stock C24, this is a premium structural grade, it can take up to 50% longer for these timbers to grow, leading them to have more growth rings. The more growth rings timber has the denser it will be.

Both our timber grades can be used as structural wood and are kiln dried, meaning there is no more than 20% of moisture making it stronger as well as durable.

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