Wood has a natural beauty and an elegance that cannot be duplicated. From crisp yet rich tonal properties to intricate whorls representing its time and place, wood can create inspiring indoor and outdoor sanctuaries, embolden traditional architecture or bring warmth to the most modern design.
Every piece of wood is as unique as your fingerprint. Grain patterns and color vary, adding texture and personality while blending with any architectural style.
Wood’s beauty is more than just skin deep: it can also contribute to a greater sense of well-being. Research has found that people feel an instinctive connection and attraction to natural materials such as wood.
No matter what your desired effect is, softwood lumber can help you achieve it. From adding a wall enhanced with wood, installing a sophisticated wood ceiling, or creating your dream outdoor oasis, wood allows you to add character and dimension to your home like no other material can.
Wood is a Natural Insulator
Energy efficiency is critically important as we seek to better use the planet’s finite resources. As more homes move towards a net zero goal, meaning the amount of energy used is roughly equal to renewable energy created by the home, more attention is being paid to the building systems, design and appliances that best support energy efficiency.
Softwood lumber as a structural material is cost-effective, versatile, easy to build with and familiar to builders and contractors. This makes it ideal to create the enclosure for an energy efficient home.
Because of wood’s higher R-Value, an insulated wood framed home will be more energy efficient than a similarly insulated home built with steel framing. Wood’s thermal insulating properties promote energy efficient walls.* This means homes use less energy for cooling in the summer and heating in the winter.
Thermal diffusivity is a measure of how quickly a material can absorb heat from its surroundings. Because of the low thermal conductivity and moderate density and heat capacity of wood, the thermal diffusivity of wood is much lower than that of other structural materials, such as metal, brick, and stone.
The coefficient of thermal expansion describes how the size of an object changes with a change in temperature. Wood’s coefficient of thermal expansion is less than half that of steel or concrete.
*“Among structural building materials, wood has by far the lowest heat conductivity. As a result, it is typically easier to meet certain insulation targets (e.g., effective R-value, or U-factor) with wood-based wall systems when following current construction practices.”
As trees grow, they absorb harmful carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, naturally purifying our air. Through photosynthesis, the carbon gets stored in wood fibers in a tree’s roots, trunk and branches, and oxygen is released—so that people and animals have healthy air to breathe. When trees are harvested, the carbon they captured continues to be stored in the wood.
More than half the energy used in manufacturing wood products in the U.S. comes from wood itself, also known as biomass, in the forms of tree bark, sawdust and papermaking by-products. That means wood is used efficiently as the energy source to create wood products.
In fact, wood product companies in the U.S. and Canada utilize nearly 99 percent of the wood they process (pre-consumer recycling) at sawmills and at secondary wood processors such as furniture and cabinetmakers—resulting in almost no wood
When it comes to health and wellness, the design of your home may prove to be just as important as your diet, sleep habits or exercise routine. This is the premise behind biophilic design – the idea that incorporating natural elements into your home, such as wood, water, sunlight or plants, can actually improve overall health.
A review of research from Canada and Austria found that humans automatically relax when they’re surrounded by elements from the natural world, like wood. In fact, these materials have a pronounced effect on the autonomic nervous system, lowering blood pressure and stress levels.
Whether purchasing a new home or remodeling, nature is easily incorporated into a home through a wood feature wall, ceiling, wainscoting or floors.
“We’re talking about wood where we can see the grain. This really has a fundamental effect on the autonomic nervous system,” environmental psychologist Dr. Sally Augustin says. Unlike other natural elements, wood can also be used for a home’s structure and exposed beams still produce a stress-reducing response.
So, however you choose to bring wood into your living space, its health benefits are more than just instinctive. There’s real science behind why the nature of wood helps you live a healthier life.
Sustainable forest management helps meet society’s need for wood products, while respecting the values people attach to forests and preserving forest health and diversity for the future. Modern forest practices help keep the environment in balance, taking into account water and soil quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and biodiversity, as well as community and recreational opportunities.
Healthy, sustainably managed forests provide clean air and water, a habitat for plants and wildlife, and employment opportunities for nearby communities. Sustainable forestry plays an integral role in the health of our planet.
Independent forest certification systems help give you confidence that the wood you use comes from sustainable, well-managed forests—so you can be sure that water, air, soil and wildlife habitat resources will be conserved, and sites will be replanted with native species.
When it comes to building and remodeling, it pays to consider the financial return you realize in the event you sell your house. Wood can contribute to a return on investment on your remodel and there are some standout examples of where real wood pays off.
Wood deck additions are one of the top remodeling projects for homeowner return on investment, boasting an average ROI of nearly 81 percent, higher than the ROI from a non-wood deck. That’s because wood decks are an affordable way to extend your living space and deliver on the increasingly popular inside/outside living concept.
Building with wood is fast and efficient, and can be undertaken year-round in almost any climate, which helps keep building costs down.
Furthermore, using wood in the construction of your home – in the framing and other structural applications – can save you time and money, when compared to brick, steel or concrete. Wood is much less expensive than alternative materials like steel, and costs less to install, as more contractors are familiar with wood – this also means you have more contractors from which to choose.
An added bonus? Wood-framed houses allow for easy modifications during and after construction because of their versatility and cost-effectiveness – something other materials can’t achieve.
Whether you’re building a new home, remodeling your existing interior, or building a backyard oasis, wood is an investment that will add value to your home for years to come.
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