Wood performance holds up. Its proven safety, versatility, and natural beauty is why durable wood is used in many types of buildings, from single family homes to condominiums, multi-story offices, schools, industrial facilities, recreational centers, and arenas.
Wood buildings are designed to meet the same level of fire performance as buildings made from alternative materials.
Wood’s safety and performance is recognized by the International Building Code® (IBC), which allows six stories of wood construction under the 2018 code and is set to increase to up to 18 stories tall in 2021, when making use of mass timber construction.
Tests by the American Wood Council and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service, demonstrated it is possible to build a cross-laminated timber (CLT) building that exceeds code requirements for fire performance, even when timber is left exposed.
Valued for its beauty, strength, flexibility, and practicality, wood offers endless possibilities in architecture and design.
It can be a load-bearing structure, a finish material, or an exterior cladding that stands up to the elements. In all cases, it conveys natural warmth and sophistication. Because of wood’s long history of proven structural and fire performance, it is used not only in 90 percent of all U.S. home construction, but also in some of today’s most innovative commercial and multifamily architecture.
Unlike concrete and steel, wood has natural insulating qualities, and does not need a thermal break between the structural and exterior envelope. Precisely manufactured assemblies like prefabricated light-frame walls and CLT panels provide thermal mass, and can help building envelopes achieve superior air tightness.
Wood has a strong role to play in energy efficient green buildings that promote healthy work environments. In a survey of architects, developers, and other real estate professionals, 41 percent of U.S. respondents said they expect to work on green commercial buildings in the coming years. More than half (52 percent) cited client demands as the main reason they would build green.
Forces in an earthquake are proportional to a structure’s weight, and wood as a building material is substantially lighter than steel or concrete. Wood buildings tend to have numerous nail or other metal connections, meaning they have more load paths, so there is less chance the structure will collapse should some connections fail.
Wood’s elastic limit and strength are higher when loads are applied for a short time, which tends to be the case in high wind events. Diaphragms and shear walls constructed of wood can offer strong wind resistance. Want to learn more about wood’s resilience?