Construction timber, how to ensure optimal materials?
Before concrete lived its golden age, construction timber was considered the main material for the construction of private homes and public buildings. After a period spent a while in dim light, in which the new materials seemed destined to take their place, the wood has returned to shine more beautiful and stronger than before. Thanks to recent technologies, which have enhanced its enormous peculiarities, construction timber has returned to establish itself on the market, thanks to its natural beauty and the immense versatility it is able to offer and which makes it the protagonist of uses in an endless field. of application.
What is meant by construction timber?
Before delving into its infinite potential, let's try to give a definition to "construction timber". This term means the raw material par excellence that is the basis of building projects capable of giving superlative beauty, as well as the indispensable material for the most fascinating do-it-yourself creations.
Precisely by virtue of its use and the reliability required of it, construction timber cannot be just any wood, but must be able to offer particular characteristics. First of all, this type of wood must guarantee high mechanical resistance, that is, a great ability to support efforts without breaking. It must also be free from defects: molds, bends and cracks would end up negatively affecting the finished product. Last but not the least important feature of construction timber is its durability, i.e. the ability to remain intact over time without requiring special maintenance.
Enemies of wood, what are they and how to fight them?
Among the most appreciated characteristics of construction timber is the one that sees it emanate an extraordinary beauty, a characteristic that makes it particularly appreciated for the construction of elegant buildings and capable of giving off a natural look that fascinates at first glance. But if the aesthetic factor is an intrinsic quality of wood, which already occurs in nature with a look embellished by its precious grain, the mechanical one can (indeed must) be corrected by means of special treatments.
Wood is, by its nature, a living and organic material, and therefore subject to degradation processes and biological attacks by fungi and insects, attracted by the starch-sugary substances of which it is composed. Not all plants are the same, and each species (coniferous or broad-leaved, European or exotic) is the result of a combination of different genetic and environmental factors that give it unique biological characteristics. In some, such as fir, the heartwood is undifferentiated and the degradation process can involve the entire plant, while others, such as larch, have a distinct heartwood resistant to attacks by fungi and insects. The sapwood, that is the young and physiologically active part of the trunk, is certainly the most "palatable" and therefore exposed to the greatest risk of deterioration, while the heartwood, the darkest part of the trunk and physiologically inactive, has now lost its starches and is little inviting for fungi and insects. Do we therefore have to deduce that only heartwood can be used for construction? Absolutely no. The "secret" consists in being able to eliminate those components that attract insects and facilitate the formation of fungi, even from the part that contains more starch-sugary substances. With drying it is possible to correct the humidity present in the timber and make every part of it usable.
But the advantages of drying wood are not limited to this. We have already mentioned that a good construction timber must be able to offer maximum durability, combined with adequate mechanical resistance and the absence of cracks and bends. All this can be achieved by correcting its hygroscopic characteristic. In fact, untreated wood will be subject to swell or contract depending on the water it absorbs and which modifies its cellular structure. A plant that has just been cut and reduced into beams or boards sees the surface exposed to the ambient air, which can be more or less rich in humidity. To create a balanced relationship between the humidity of the air and that contained in the trunk, it is necessary for a part of the water to escape from the wood, migrating towards the outside. To avoid biological degradation of the material, it is essential to reach wood moisture levels below 20%. To achieve this ideal hygrometric equilibrium, the wood is subjected to that process that we all know as seasoning.
Seasoning can be natural and artificial: two processes that lead to the same result but with timing