It has been a long time since something has come along that gets people excited in the building industry. Mass timber is getting people excited and creating quite the buzz. Designers are loving the idea of using mass timber in their projects. Builders love the strength and durability of timber wood; architects are on board with the aesthetics and potential of mass timber construction.
For most timber wood is a combination of aesthetics, the reduced carbon footprint of the material, and the endless possibility. In building this is a very efficient material that can reduce the amount of labor that is needed to affect the project to completion.
Is using timber wood in construction simply a trend, or is it here to stay? We are going to look at what mass timber is, how it is being used, and what the projections are for this building material.
What is Mass Timber
There are some very clear benefits to timber construction. It is lighter in weight then other construction materials; therefore, it can be used for construction where other materials would be weight prohibitive. It can speed up construction by about 25% which of course, is a cost savings to the consumer.
All the above still does not tell you exactly what this building material is. You likely gathered from the name that it is wood. It is a type of framing used in construction. Large solid mass timber panels are used to construct the frame, the roof, the floors, typically the panels are six feet or more in depth and/or width. These are massively large panels.
Mass timber is a category of framing styles typically characterized using large solid wood panels for wall, floor, and roof construction. It also includes innovative forms of sculptural buildings, and non- building structures formed from solid wood panel or framing systems of six feet or more in width or depth.
There are three different categories of this timber. CLT (cross laminated timber) NLT (nail laminated timber) and Glulam (glue laminated timber). The timber is created using different sections of wood that are connected using one of the category processes. The result is highly durable panels and beams that can be used in a wide range of construction and building projects.
It is a highly sustainable building material. If mass timber is used in the place of steel for framing, the carbon emissions from the project would be reduced by 15%-20%. There are other benefits that you can get from using this material:
- Mass timber is fire resistant
- Mass timber is durable yet lightweight
- It can cut down on the need for other materials
- It is a sustainable
- It is cost efficient
Fire resistant may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you are thinking about a wood product, but testing has shown that timber wood is highly fire resistant. A CLT panel that was 5 ply was exposed to temperatures of 1800 degrees Fahrenheit was able to withstand the heat for over three hours.
It is amazing how the fire resistance works. When exposed to fire, the outside of the timber becomes charred forming a protective layer which keeps the fire from spreading deep into the wood. In situations where the code requires that gypsum board is used to cover the timbers, the timbers remain further protected and can withstand a complete burnout with sustaining damage.
It is Strong Yet Lightweight Compared to Steel Beams
They are strong enough to replace steel and concrete yet weigh about 1/5th of concrete and steel buildings. This means that the foundation can be smaller requiring less material for the foundation. These timbers can easily withstand seismic activity and high winds.
There is a high strength to weight ratio that makes it a perfect framing material especially in areas where there is active seismic activity, high winds, and threats from hurricanes. This is a high-density material that is durable enough for tall buildings in some of the most challenging climates.
Unlike concrete, and steel there is no real weather limits associated with this construction material. For example, temperature, humidity and conditions play a critical role in how concrete sets. With mass timber you take all those concerns right off the table.
Of course, the fact that you require less foundation material because of the lightweight nature of mass timber means that you can expect fewer delays waiting for foundation structures to be erected. You can get to work sooner and complete the project sooner.
It is a Sustainable Material
Using CLT, NLT or Glulam in building can help to reduce carbon emissions. A building that is 7-14 stories tall can have the same effect on the environment as removing about 1 million cars off the road for an entire year. CLT, NLT and Glulam requires less processing than other materials like concrete and steel. It is an eco-friendly material that easily stands up to most building codes, as a matter of fact it exceeds most building codes.
There have been studies that have supported the idea that building with mass wood produces far less greenhouse gases than other materials. The goal today is to use less material and get more out of the material that you are using.
Protecting the environment is a feature that every builder, architect, and designer should be considering and making a priority. Reducing the amount of material, it takes to erect a building is an easy way to build a reputation as an environmentally friendly company.
It is Cost Effective
Here is where more and more builders are won over. Building with mass timber can require 90% LESS construction traffic. There are less materials involved, like a smaller foundation, and there is less labor involved.
This may be one of the most cost-efficient ways to build. Builders and others in the construction industry are finding that they can cut costs dramatically without sacrificing any quality in construction. They are finding that buildings that are constructed with this material are durable, fire resistant, aesthetically pleasing, and costing less to construct.
Mass timber buildings are a win-win situation for everyone involved. Building with timber is turning out to be something that everyone can benefit from.
Construction typically generates a lot of debris and waste; with mass timbers you can easily cut back on the waste. Less waste means less clean up time and expense. It also means the need for less equipment on the job site.
These preformed timber panels mean less room for error. A few cuts if needed and your done and ready to install. Less energy needs to be used on the worksite, which of course is an additional savings. The list of ways to save with this building method is endless.
Less materials, less labor, less equipment means less disruption on the work site and it also means you are reducing risk. Job site safety comes down to a few simple factors. The less people that you have on the job site means there are less people that can be injured on the job site.
Less labor, less equipment, and less interaction of the two also means you are looking at a reduction in risk for potential injuries. This can be a tremendous cost savings. On the job injuries can really ring up the cost of any project.
This may be the material that is going to change the construction industry and how building in managed. It can be the ideal way to curtail costs, reduce safety risks, help the environment, and get high quality structures that are built to last and withstand whatever nature must throw at them.
What Is the Difference Between Mass Timber Building and Other Wood Building Techniques?
There may be some confusion when it comes to what the difference is between mass timber building systems and other lumber options. Traditional stick-built buildings do not offer what timber-built buildings do.
Mass timber panels are pre-manufactured. They are resilient panels that deliver the strength of steel without the weight of steel. Because they are manufactured off site, there is less labor involved in constructing with mass timber.
When you choose mass wood you are choosing an option that delivers flexible design support. You can use mass timber for precise building that helps to improve energy efficiency. This building option can be installed with less labor, and less disruption to surrounding buildings.
Unlike stick built construction, each panel is ready to install, and can be installed by a diverse labor force without specialty skills. Of course, stick built cannot compare to the fire resistance that is available with mass timber.
The idea of using mass timber for tall buildings can at first seem like “huh how can that work?” but builders are finding that timber wood can be used in tall buildings, short buildings, and other structures. While this building technique is still in its infancy around much of the world, it is changing how builders think about building materials and the possibilities that this material has to offer.
The Growth of this Building Style
As more and more architects and designers are looking to more environmentally friendly methods of building, the demand for builders that can offer this building style is going to grow. There are plenty of online and offline resources that share information about how to use this building style.
Taking the time to learn this skill set can be very lucrative for you and your business in the future. More designers and developers are going to look to this building technique in the future. Consider the benefit of a building material that is easier to work with, just as stable and resistant and current favored materials, and less costly. You can see how there is sure to be a tremendous amount of growth in this sector.
Aligning yourself now to take advantage of the growth potential can be one of the best moves you ever make for your business. There have been few times in history where a building material has gotten so many industry members as excited.
People that are looking for a better way to build will soon be demanding that mass timber is used in their projects. Set yourself up for success by offering this building option and sit back and enjoy the growth that your business will experience.
Should You Be Getting Excited?
If you are in the building industry you can almost guarantee that this will not be the end of hearing about mass timber. This material is set to make some serious changes to how tall buildings and other structures are constructed.
Currently there is a push around the globe to work with regulatory bodies that create building codes to help make this as popular material as its steel and concrete counterparts. It is a strong possibility that you will be hearing a lot more of building with timbers in the future.
Any progress that answers so many problems should be celebrated by industry members. You should be getting excited about the possibilities that mass timber has to offer. The building community is a buzz with the capabilities that this building option is offering.
Get on board and learn more about how mass timber can change how you do business. Develop your skill set and get ready for the influx of requests for this building option. It is coming.