Last edited 07 Dec 2018

Timber vs wood


There is often confusion about the interchangeability of the terms ‘timber’ and ‘wood’.

The term ‘wood’ is used to refer to the substance that makes up the tree. It is the hard, fibrous structural tissue that is commonly found in the stems and roots of trees. The primary function of wood is to support the tree, enabling it to grow straight and tall enough to be able to absorb sunlight for photosynthesis. Wood also enables the transfer of water and nutrients to growing tissues and leaves.

The term ‘timber’ is used to refer to the wood at any stage after the tree has been felled. This can include the raw material, also known as rough timber or the processed material.

In the UK, Australia and New Zealand, as well as some other countries, timber typically refers to sawn wood products that will be used in construction, such as floorboards. 'Timbers' may refer specifically to timber beams or boards used in house building.

In the United States and Canada, timber often refers to felled trees, and the term ‘lumber’ is used to refer to sawn wood products.

NB See: The use of wood in construction for an alternative definition.

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