When creating any project, it’s important to consider the durability of the material you are making it with. For example, when looking at timber for outdoor projects, it’s vital to ensure the durability of the timber can not only withstand the outdoor conditions it’s exposed to but also be strong enough to reduce the risk of injury to individuals over time.
For example, a gazebo made from timber needs to be strong enough so the outdoor conditions will not lead to the wood weakening, potentially leading to an accident while people are using it. Conditions timber wood can be exposed to outdoors include moisture, UV, and decay-causing fungi.
Timbersource have put together an interesting table regarding the durability class of timber, to help people understand its lifespan and durability.
The Durability Class
Here you can find the durability class for timber, which is really useful as an overview. Most timber used for indoor purposes is durable provided it’s in a dry area, so choosing durable timber that is only suitable for interior projects will not work well for outdoor projects. For example, beech is a very durable timber that will last decades indoors but outdoors, it will start to rot in 6 months.
The best timber woods to consider for an outdoor project
There are a few options to choose from when it comes to timbers for outdoor projects. Deciding to choose a durable timber wood results in strong strength and structural integrity, reducing the chances of it warping or weakening, which in hand risks structural failures that could compromise the safety of occupants and workers.
Some examples include:
- (Hardwood) West African Iroko: Iroko due to its high natural oil content is at durability class 1 and is grown in a very wet warm environment which makes it very resilient to outdoor conditions. Iroko is great for cladding, decking, pergolas, boat building and landscaping.
- (Hardwood) European Oak: European Oak comes in at durability class 2, meaning it’s a durable material that can withstand different outdoor conditions it can be exposed to. European Oak is a great choice for exterior cladding, window frames and doors.
- (Hardwood) West African Idigbo: A moderately durable hardwood that is a durability class 3, it’s a great choice for outdoor wet environments. It’s also commonly used for window frames and outdoor furniture.
- (Hardwood) West African Sapele: Sapele has a natural oil content like iroko and is very good for outdoor use especially for painting. Despite being tough it planes down to a fine smooth texture ready for painting. It has a durability class 2 rating and can be used for porches, garage doors, window frames and barge boards.
- (Hardwood) Yellow Balau: Yellow Balau is incredibly durable, with a durable class 1 rating. This means it can withstand most outdoor conditions and is a great choice for an exterior ‘decking’ profile, with it lasting 20-30 years in outdoor conditions.
- (Softwood) European Douglas Fir: European Douglas Fir is moderately durable with a durability class of 3. It’s also rot resistant, perfect for outdoor building projects like outdoor structures, pergolas and garden walling.
- (Softwood) British Red Cedar: Coming in with a durability class of 3, it’s a moderately durable timber wood that is a great choice for outdoor projects. It’s also resistant to decay, rot, and insects, thanks to its natural oil content. It can last over 20 years when used for outdoor structures.
- (Softwood) Canadian Red Cedar: With a durability class 1 Canadian cedar is the gold standard in exterior rated softwoods. It is grown in a climate of extreme weather from hot sun to brutally cold winters which gives it its highly durable resinous quality. It is also extremely stable and tends not to warp or move as it dries out. It can last over 30 years outdoors untreated and is no.1 for cladding, fascia boards, gates and fencing.
As well as the health and safety benefits, choosing a durable timber wood will reduce the need for maintenance over time including repairs and replacements. This will bring financial benefits, as well as reduce the risk of workers being exposed to potentially hazardous conditions.
How do different outdoor environments impact projects and workers?
Climates that have a lot of change in temperature ranging from warm, dry summers to cold, wet winters provide a tough environment for timbers. For example, the UK has a lot of damp months through the year which is the perfect conditions for fungi. As well as the harsh environment for timber, the health and safety of those in construction needs to be cared for when working out in these changing environments.
For example, if workers are out in the cold weather for a significant amount of time, ensuring they have appropriate clothes to keep them warm is a must. Similarly, workers who are exposed to warm environments need to ensure they are drinking enough water, and take breaks from the sun when needed. Timber exposed to hot temperatures expand and shrink, further impacting the potential time workers will be assembling projects.