Staying warm: heat retention of wooden structures

Posted Oct 30, 2020, Category: Cabin production

Since Eurodita has been in business for 26 years already, we have received a lot of feedback on reasons why end customers choose glulam timber frame houses. Reasons can vary, from aesthetics, to functionality, to ease of construction. However, in this post, we would like to discuss one of the most frequently mentioned benefits that come with purchasing our contemporary log cabins and glulam log houses in general. That is the thermal properties of wood and how glue lamination process improves them altogether.

Thermal properties of wood – in technical terms

Wood has the tendency to expand and contract with varying temperatures. This dimensional change is, however, negligible compared to shrinking and swelling that is caused by variations in moisture content.

Most often, temperature-related expansion and contraction is extremely small and doesn’t contribute with any practical importance. Only in temperatures below 0 °C have the potential to cause surface effects, such as unequal contraction of inner and outer layers that may result in frost cracks. And these only apply to living trees.

Wood in general exhibits a low thermal conductivity (otherwise known as high heat-insulating capacity) compared with other materials. Most metals, marble, glass, and concrete – all of these materials, used in the construction of any dwelling, show low heat insulation compared to wood. Thermal conductivity increases with density and moisture content – that is why light, dry woods are better insulators. The best example from our experience in the Northern pine – our base raw material that we make our products out of.

Possibilities of burning – and how glulam solves them

When exposed to high temperatures, wood burns – this is the axiom that everyone knows. This property makes wood in general suitable for heating purposes. However, one could say that logically it would be disadvantageous while in use for construction. The potential fire hazard here could be too great. However, in this case, the chemical treatment that the wood receives blocks the potential fire hazard. It reduces the heating value of the wood and stops it from catching fire.

All that technical explanation simply means that wood is good for insulation. While your clients will still need to heat up their bespoke timber houses in winter, the heat itself should stay longer. This is especially important in colder climates, where winters tend to be harsher.

Slow degradation 

Another aspect of being good insulator and have reduced risk of catching fire, glue laminated wood is also known for its longevity. Due to low moisture content, that is reduced during oven-drying, bacteria can no longer live inside the wood. That is what causes most discolouration and other negative aesthetic effects. In general, wood is known to persist in relatively good condition for centuries and even millennia. With glue lamination, the degradation process is slowed further. Not only will bacteria no longer fester due to moisture content, the planks are also more impervious to outside forces. Be it rain, snow or sunlight, glue lamination ensures stronger material for made to measure log cabins to be built and survive for centuries or more.

New age materials

Glue lamination is a well-known process, applicable in the industry since 1800s. However, more recent advancements in this process during 1940s allowed for more resistant wooden planks to be produced. This gave rise to glulam house frames and expansion of possibilities to their designs. Now, new houses that are made from glue laminated wood and are impervious to outdoor elements, long lasting and sturdy are taking over this market. We are happy to report that this method of production really gives us an edge on design and construction quality. We are able to produce great pieces of contemporary log cabin homes that fit the residential caliber. We can only hope to continue contributing to the development of these beautiful designs.