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16 comments
Associate

Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 38
Good Answers: 1

Is Timber Still in Use as Structural Member

07/25/2009 8:42 AM

I can see lumbers being used in construction but these lumbers are not suitable as structural members. It is only used for temporary supports like bracing, and will be removed when the structure stands for itself. Of course, they are being used at small construction sites.

Are timbers still in use as structural members in your area? Then what are the type of project they were in used (residential, ports, water gates, etc)?

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Guru

Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
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#1

Re: Is Timber Still in Use as Structural Member

07/25/2009 6:19 PM

I have seen three, four, and five story residential, multi-family structures framed here in Atlanta with two by fours and metal joins at key points.

j.

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Associate

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#3
In reply to #1

Re: Is Timber Still in Use as Structural Member

07/26/2009 7:27 AM

Thank you Jack Jersawitz for the information. I am now in the process of doing structural design of a two-storey residential house. I advice the owner (which is an American) to switch to steel and concrete because it is very hard to get good timber in our area. We will most probably pass through a needle's eye in acquiring these timbers. I tried my best to convince my client but he insist the use of wood and timber for his house.

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Guru
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#8
In reply to #3

Re: Is Timber Still in Use as Structural Member

07/26/2009 6:20 PM

RTFVerterra

I tried my best to convince my client but he insist the use of wood and timber for his house.

You don't seem to have a problem with your choice of materials but a problem with your client. Just show him some images of termite damage and you might get him to look the other way. I could see timber being used for floors and some interior but it would be very costly to do the lot in timber, which sometimes can come from dubious sources.

Get him to compromise and use both materials or more. He is more after the design feature (I bet) timber has to offer and is not concerned with structural issues. If all fails talk to his wife, they some times have more common sense.

I have seen fantastic houses in a combination of light steel, rock and timber. Show him some and go from there. Just Google. If he is a timber Barron himself suggest to make it from recycled paper and you will never have to talk to him again.

Good Luck, Ky.

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Guru

Join Date: Oct 2007
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#11
In reply to #3

Re: Is Timber Still in Use as Structural Member

07/27/2009 10:27 AM

Just have this in mind:

If the house should catch fire, a wooden structure will maintain it's structural strength enough for you to walk over it and not collapse even after burning for some time.

A metal structure on the other hand, when it gets hot, it loses its structural strength and when part of it goes it all goes. Hot beams start sagging from heat and once it starts it keeps going and becomes unstable.

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Guru

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#16
In reply to #11

Re: Is Timber Still in Use as Structural Member

09/05/2009 8:34 AM

There is nothing wrong with timber. As you have posted the structure holds up much better in a fire, borax treated timber is both fire and termite resistant.

Century old Queenslanders have endured cyclone after cyclone and survived. Native timbers are unfortunately getting much harder to procure around here at cheap enough prices for structural work due to the misguided closure of the sustainable yield forestry industry in North Queensland.

If properly managed, as in previous years, timber is completely sustainable.

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#2

Re: Is Timber Still in Use as Structural Member

07/26/2009 1:08 AM

Various information sources, including "Architectural Graphic Standards" as well as literature from wood-products companies, tabulate the structural properties of various woods. You can get compressive strength, modulus of elasticity, etc., from such sources. Wood is definitely a valid structural material, though you have to take into account such things as moisture exposure, termites and other borers, etc.

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Guru

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#4

Re: Is Timber Still in Use as Structural Member

07/26/2009 12:20 PM

Yes!

In Canada and the USA wood framed and timber construction is very common. From framed homes to 3 and 4 floor commercial buildings to magnificent arenas. Take a look at the Olympic speed skating oval just recently constructed in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada for the 2010 games www.richmondoval.ca

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#5

Re: Is Timber Still in Use as Structural Member

07/26/2009 12:54 PM

RTFVerterra,

Being an american who has lived for serveral years in the Philippines my opinion is it really makes absolutly no sense to construct there using structural timber.

Advise your client that all he will invite is premature deterioration from invasive insects, that no matter how often you treat will return again and again.

Block and steel are the preffered methods for a very good reason.

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Active Contributor

Join Date: May 2009
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#6
In reply to #5

Re: Is Timber Still in Use as Structural Member

07/26/2009 2:47 PM

Guest (post 5) wrote: "It makes no sense to construct using timber."

Agreed. This is very good advice.

RTFVerterra wrote: "I advised the owner (who is an American) to switch to steel and concrete."

RTFVerterra, this is very good advice you are giving. It sounds like your client is quite unintelligent, if he does not understand your above advice. Wood is easy to cut, but is a relatively very weak structural material. Aside from other reasons cited above, wood is usually completely ruined by flooding (due to mold, etc.). And the structure is basically "match sticks" with respect to fire. Not built to remain a long time. Worldwide deforestation is also environmentally irresponsible.

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Active Contributor

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Is Timber Still in Use as Structural Member

07/26/2009 3:44 PM

In my above post, I was referring to strength per unit area, not strength per unit mass. But the edit time is far too short on this forum. Should be an absolute minimum of 2 hours. Or 24 hours would be good.

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Guru
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#9
In reply to #7

Re: Is Timber Still in Use as Structural Member

07/26/2009 6:23 PM

Measure twice, cut once.

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#10

Re: Is Timber Still in Use as Structural Member

07/27/2009 3:27 AM

Glued-laminated beams are an important structural component in much timber construction in Europe, particularly in Scandinavia where there is a lot of timber available as a resource.

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#12

Re: Is Timber Still in Use as Structural Member

07/27/2009 12:15 PM

You may well be correct, for your location, in your climate, within your perspective for the 'goal' of the home.

Your client may not, on the other hand, have the same 'goal' of long-lasting construction in that location, but may be looking at first cost based on assumptions of cost he has in his background that do not transfer to your location. In that case, he needs feedback from a 3rd party source that he deems credible, and you need to be able to point to that 3rd party source for the proof so that you are 'beside' your client helping, rather than 'across' from him arguing.

If the use of timber for this client is his desire to have exposed timber for the design asthetic, you can and should accomodate this, while pointing out the concealed nature of the steel and concrete used for foundation and exterior walls.

You may also look into ICF construction, which allows for inexpensive and fully insulated construction with poured concrete and steel reinforcement for seismic and storm resistance, wherever the labor cost itself is cheap. Timber detailing can then be integrated into the 'finish' rather than the structure.

Best for residential there may be a welded-wire-through-rigid-foam 3D-panel system, if there is a supplier/producer in the Phillipines (there may not be, patented process). The integration onto rebar-foundation tie-in and gunnite sprayed into it is sealed, insulated, pest resistant, and even more seismic/hurricane resistant as well.

IF timber is to be used for structure in that kind of location, I would expect to see only glue-laminated beams protected from water and pests, and even then only where the beam will be partly exposed in the interior for the appearance.

Even a flexible wooden ('stick-built') home with metal joint ties and reinforcements can't withstand long-term water and pest damage, so the ENTIRE structure would require pressure-treated lumber - which is expensive and in short supply in island locales, and would be less resistant to seismic and storm events.

It is likely your client is simply bringing his preferences with him from what was "typical" back-home, and thinks this is a way to bring a piece of 'home' with him...and needs education to overcome this bias. Don't 'push' based on logic, get the spouse with him and visit a few sites and talk with respect to professional builders of 'high-end' homes and appeal to the emotional aspects of security and safety of the home investment in that environment.

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Associate

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#13

Re: Is Timber Still in Use as Structural Member

08/08/2009 6:24 AM

Hello everyone, thanks for your response. We are becoming busy the past days in clearing the area and mobilizing. Last week, I meet my client personally for the very first time and and guess what, he read this post of mine but he did not comment. He wants his privacy so please don't ask me his user name. He is a retired construction engineer and he knew exactly what he wanted. The structure is not for their residence but a vacation pad, he want it to be made of timber and his his wife want many vegetation around. My initial design was all discarded because he brought with him his own sketch, it is a little smaller though. I am happy working with him because he is very friendly, helpful and I learned a lot from him. Experience really matters. My project is his third house in the Philippines, his two house are made of concrete. I convinced him however to do concrete footings. Thanks guys for your response, I hope I can have more American clients :) I am really very happy because the payment is not just good but very good.

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Guru
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#14
In reply to #13

Re: Is Timber Still in Use as Structural Member

08/08/2009 4:41 PM

RTFVerterra

Your preparation was good and you committed your self professionally so you deserve it, well done. You are also thanking us which should happen more often when people find assistance, help or encouragement. Hope there are many more to come, Ky.

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Guru

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#15
In reply to #13

Re: Is Timber Still in Use as Structural Member

08/09/2009 3:11 AM

Hmm, Concrete footings, frame construction. Typical Vancouver house construction!

Here it is a temperate rainforest (over 1100mm rain per year), and earthquakes are common.

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Users who posted comments:

aeon (2); Anonymous Poster (1); Emjay4119 (1); GW (2); Jack Jersawitz (1); Janissaries (1); ky (3); PWSlack (1); RTFVerterra (2); Sandman (1); Tornado (1)

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