Last edited 06 Mar 2019

Timber vs wood

Timbertrees.jpg

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.

What begins with timber in its most basic form can these days result in the most advanced of products.

From the versatility of plywood, the creation of massive glulam beams or even beautifully crafted veneer, engineered wood products provide a varied range of materials that use timber for an increasing list of both structural, functional and design applications.

These products are not only helping to redefine modern construction practices, but show that wood can rival more traditional building products in terms of its environmental impact, strength, cost, finish and workability.

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

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