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Last edited 13 Dec 2017
Wood and interiors
Interest in health and wellbeing in buildings has risen in recent years. As ‘sustainability’ as a buzzword lost some its novelty and glamour and just became business as usual for all responsible organisations, attention started to refocus on topics such as indoor air quality, natural daylight, thermal comfort, acoustics, biophilia and the impact on our physical and psychological wellbeing of the materials we use inside of buildings.
A US study conducted in 2001, funded by the US Environmental Protection Association, found that people spend 90% of their time indoors. This finding has influenced a lot of public policy on pollution, health and productivity.
It has led to is a greater understanding of the health benefits of living with wood, and the environmental benefits, comfort and aesthetic improvements you can achieve by choosing timber doors, windows, floors and staircases. Studies have shown joinery products can improve emotional state, reduce blood pressure, heart rate and stress and improve sleep patterns. Timber interiors also add warmth and character to a home.
Internal and external timber doors are great to look at, and to touch. They provide excellent acoustic and thermal properties. As with all interior joinery products, they can contribute to indoor air quality through effective humidity regulation.
For dwellings that need fire doors, such as blocks of flats and other types of shared accommodation, or homes with a loft conversion or where there’s an internal door between a garage and the home, timber fire doors are the perfect solution. Third-party certificated doors and doorsets provide proven performance against fire and smoke, protecting lives and property.
Timber framed windows, combined with double or triple glazing, save energy, carbon dioxide emissions and money. They can be manufactured in a variety of styles so are ideal for all types of homes. The wood can be painted and treated and can create a statement within a home. Treatment can be reapplied after 10 years, and in 7 year intervals after that, making them a long-lasting product.
The Wood Window Alliance (WWA) say; “While PVC-u windows - originally hailed as ‘the future’ for durability and ease and a new, cheaper option - were installed in their thousands in the 70s, 80s and 90s, today we’re seeing new questions arising. A growing recognition among environmentally aware millennials that wood really is good." Read the WWA’s report on the life cycle analysis of timber windows here.
Timber flooring can come in softwood such as pine, hardwood such as oak, and engineered boards. The latter is best for homes opting for underfloor heating. As with all timber joinery products, timber flooring brings a wide range of health benefits. For allergy sufferers, hardwood flooring is often cited as the best solution as it does not hold on to dust mites, mould or mildew. It is also easier to keep clean.
Stairs can be the centrepiece of a building, and tiny details can make the mundane magical in terms of the architectural styling of the stair surroundings. Timber stairs are often chosen for their high-performance characteristics, extensive and varied range of finishes and the sheer natural beauty of timber as a material.
Sources: US Environmental Protection Association; British Woodworking Federation; Wood Window Alliance; Wood Campus; Fire Door Safety Week; British Woodworking Federation Stair Scheme; Heriot Watt University; NHS; Allergy Store; Wood Awards; ASBP
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- 11 things you didn't know about wood.
- Cross-laminated timber.
- Off-site construction.
- Physical Properties of Wood.
- Testing timber.
- The differences between hardwood and softwood.
- Timber construction for London.
- Timber framed buildings and fire.
- Types of timber.
- Wood and modern methods of construction.
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