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How to Build with Wood

For Nordic Municipalities who want to explore the possibilities that wood offers in building greener, healthier and more liable urban areas, this How to Build with Wood guide will give you the introduction. The guide is divided into the different processes there will be in a municipality that consider or is already using wood. The different sections contain relevant links and resources at a national level, where you can learn more about the situation where you are.

Exterior versus interior wood

When discussing the maintenance requirements of wood, one must differentiate between wood exposed to the exterior environment (e.g. cladding for façade) and interior wood not exposed to the environment (e.g. structural wood, walls, floors). Interior wood requires very little maintenance and can last for hundreds of years without loss of performance, whereas exterior wood generally requires some degree of maintenance and will have a measured lifetime.

"The operation and maintenance costs has so far been a positive experience building with wood."
Allan Werge, Manager, Al2Bolig, Denmark

Interior wood

Interior wood requires very little maintenance – sometimes no maintenance – to preserve its performance or appearance. Experiences show that interior wood requires less maintenance compared to other materials. If wood is kept dry, its expected lifetime is measured in hundreds of years.

Wood buildings may also be adaptable to different configurations and uses over time, which increases building longevity. Structural wood should be inspected periodically to check that the wood is dry and sound but does not require maintenance. Periodic inspections are especially important near the building envelope i.e. roof and façade. The link below gives you information about the benefits of using interior wood.

Exterior wood

Wood used for exterior purposes, mainly for façade cladding, are exposed to rain, sun, and shifting temperatures, which will slowly degrade the wood. The service life of exterior wood can be extended considerably through a combination of choice of wood species, building design, chemical wood protection, surface treatment (painting) and regular maintenance.  An example on a project where the design where in focus for protection the exterior untreated wood is to be found at this link.

If wood cladding is undesired for a given project, due to fire legislation, maintenance issues, or architectural considerations, one can choose a non-wood cladding option and only use wood for the interior of the building (structural system, walls, floors, etc.). The links below give you more information about wood protection and maintenance of wood.