Structural engineering is the reason we have so many wonderful buildings that have stood the test of time. This discipline is responsible for understanding a building’s strength and stability, and how it will react to its environment and other external stimuli. Throughout the centuries of building structures, engineers have worked with various materials, from adobe bricks to steel beams, but one material has proved to be particularly advantageous for many projects: wood. Specifically, wood framing is one of the most popular materials used to frame projects such as homes, small commercial developments and multi-family units.
Speaking with RMG’s Structural Group Manager, David Schmidt, we learned more about the basics of wood framing and all its benefits, challenges and practical applications.
Wood Framing Benefits
As the only renewable building material, wood is the smart choice for environmentally-conscious builders. It takes less energy to extract, manufacture and transport wood and releases fewer greenhouse gas emissions than both steel and concrete. Additionally, planting new trees in place of the ones used for framing helps combat climate change. This is because of the tree’s natural process of converting carbon dioxide into oxygen (photosynthesis).
With RMG’s commitment to the environment, choosing wood framing for many residential and light commercial projects just makes sense.
- Better Insulation
Because wood offers “higher levels of thermal resistivity versus other framing materials” (about four times more than steel or masonry), wood framing is more energy-efficient for building and the client post construction. This is due to the cellular structure of wood, which naturally has air pockets inside of it. These high levels of thermal resistance are especially helpful in Colorado’s cold winter climate.
Wood requires fewer certifications and less technical skills than other materials such as concrete and steel. Additionally, it does not need welding or other special techniques that can add to the timeline and budget of a project. Wood is also a readily available, “off the shelf” product that is easily obtained at local big box stores. Finally, Wood is easy to maintain and repair as it ages, and it can be exposed and finished, providing an aesthetically-pleasing structural system. Wood can be used in a variety of structures, from residential to clubhouses to multifamily units, as well as commercial buildings.
Issues With Wood Framing
Because it is a natural material, wood is considered nutritious for many insects, such as: termites, beetles, ants and even some species of bees. Additionally, wood is particularly susceptible to fungi due to its carbon and nitrogen contents. Fortunately, these issues can typically be avoided with construction techniques such as coating, drying and applying wood preservatives, as well as providing adequate weather proofing to seal the exterior of a building.
- Fire Hazard
Arguably the most well-known issue with wood is that it can catch on fire easily. Considering it is made mostly from organic carbon and hydrogen compounds, adding oxygen to the mix can cause the wood to burn. To prevent this risk, fire retardants are used to reduce the wood’s flammability.
Wood framing is a reliable and long-lasting solution for your structural engineering needs, which is why it is so commonly used. If you’re looking to build a residential or small- to mid-commercial project, consult with a professional. This is especially important in states like Colorado where things like snow loads need to be considered. To schedule a consultation with our experienced team, click here.