The Importance of Using Quality Timber
When beginning a woodworking project, you need to determine the right type of wood for the task. Does the job call for softwood, hardwood or sheet materials? Timber materials come in a range of different prices and often people can be tempted to go for the cheap option.
However, before you go out bargain hunting for discount materials, take a look at why it can be much better in the long run to prioritise quality over cost.
One of the biggest advantages of good-quality timber is its strength. Stronger wood can support far heavier loads.
If your project involves creating the foundations for a build, such as joists or framework, then strength is essential because everything that is built on top of those foundations relies on the base strength of the structural wood.
One of the most obvious indicators of a piece of timber’s strength is the number of visible knots. Cheap timber tends to have more knots whereas high-quality timber will have fewer.
For some projects, visible knots can add a desired rustic aesthetic. However, the areas around knots are more susceptible to cracking, warping and splitting because they are no longer a part of the natural structure of the wood that gives it its strength.
If the timber is of higher quality, it is much less likely to warp or split due to its denser and tighter grain.
On the other hand, cheaper alternatives tend to have a much coarser grain and are more likely to warp, split or twist over time. This is especially noticeable with long pieces of timber, as the warping will cause them to lose their straight line.
Because cheap timber has a coarser grain, it’s also more porous, meaning it will absorb moisture from its surroundings. The excessive water content will weaken the strength of the wood and leave it susceptible to warping, splitting and rotting.
Good timber is also easier to work with. When you are cutting or drilling into low-grade timber, the wood is much more likely to split, break off unevenly or otherwise be damaged during the process.
The wood you use needs to be tough to withstand shock and vibrations, such as those made by power tools and hammers. High-quality timber is much better at withstanding these stresses.
Quality timber lasts far longer. If you choose it for an outdoor construction project, the finished product will withstand weather conditions a lot better than cheaper alternatives and it is also less likely to rot.
Similarly, indoor timbers need to be resistant to the changing temperatures caused by heating systems. Lower-quality timber is not as insulating because of its coarse grain, so using cheaper wood could result in more expensive heating and electric bills.
A poor standard of timber will soon begin to show signs of age and decay, especially if it is exposed to the elements or constantly shifting temperatures. Whilst the obvious drawback of this is that the wood no longer looks aesthetically pleasing, it will also be much weaker structurally.
Choosing Your Timber
The suitability of any timber is relative to its type. For example, hardwoods such as oak and mahogany are unlikely to warp or split because they are much stronger than softwoods or sheet materials. On the other hand, they are also much harder to work with because of their natural strength and dense grain.
Sheet materials are a cheaper alternative to softwoods but they aren’t as dense. However, not all jobs require dense timber, especially if there are no structural demands or loads to bear.
When you know you have the right type of wood, it’s always best to opt for high-grade timber. Whilst it may cost more initially than cheaper alternatives, it will save you money in the long run in terms of repairs and replacements.
Most timber is tested and graded with a number that indicates its strength, and therefore suitability for different jobs. If you’re unsure of the type of timber you need for your project, it’s best to ask a professional for guidance.
Here at A&S Paving, we stock a range of timber supplies including fencing, plywood, decking and moulded timber.