Wood is the original high-performance building material. For thousands of years, builders with a vision for longevity, strength and versatility have turned to wood because of its unique qualities. Wood buildings that have stood for centuries offer testimony to the performance of wood and the skill of those who work with it.

Timber Floor Test, OSU | Image: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Wood’s strength, flexibility and ability to weather extreme climates come in part from its natural origins, embodying the same qualities that allow trees to grow strong and live long. Modern building codes emphasize wood’s capabilities and allow for its use as a raw material in a wide range of building types.

For more demanding applications, the natural strength of wood is complemented by modern engineering in technologies such as cross-laminated timber (CLT), nail-laminated timber (NLT), dowel-laminated timber (DLT) and glue-laminated timber (GLT), which deliver performance suitable for applications that might otherwise use concrete, steel or masonry while adding wood’s unique versatility and aesthetic.

When evaluating wood for your project, know that:

  • Wood is supported and emphasized by building codes for many building applications.
  • Wood can last for centuries in a wide range of environments. Unlike comparative materials, wood doesn’t rust, corrode or spall.
  • Wood is flexible—literally and in its suitability for a wide range of applications from light framing to long, strong spans.
  • Wood can help buildings survive extreme natural events when built to code due to its natural properties and modern wood construction techniques.

UCSD Shake Table Test, 2017 | Photo: Jacobs School of Engineering / UC San Diego

Resource Downloads

Learn more about wood's durability and performance in fire, high winds and earthquakes.

  • Fire Safety and Protection

    Fire codes demand that building systems perform to the same level, whatever material is used. Design and engineering analysis, along with supporting research, shows that wood not only meets codes but often surpasses them.

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  • Durability

    Durability is the ability of a building or any of its components to perform the required functions in a service environment over time without unforeseen cost for maintenance or repair.

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  • Seismic Stability

    When used with redundant and naturally ductile fastening, wood’s light weight allows it to be used to meet codes that make buildings safer in seismic events.

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  • Wind Resistance

    Wood’s inherent characteristics, such as its elastic limit and strength under short-term loads, make it an excellent choice when building for wind resistance.

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  • Acoustics and Thermal

    The many forms wood can take allow it to meet a variety of acoustic and thermal standards. It can block sound or create a specific acoustical environment, and it can insulate a little or a lot.

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