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ECM 206 - CIVIL ENGINEERING MATERIALS

TIMBER/WOOD

TIMBER / WOOD
by Dr. Rudy Tawie

INTRODUCTION
-

One of the oldest structural materials still in use.

In Malaysia, there are more than 2500 species of timber.

Timber characteristics and properties are distinct and more complex than those of other
common structural materials such as concrete, steel and brickwork.

Timber can be used for many purposes in building construction. Some of the applications
are:
o

Foundation piles

Structural components such as beams, columns, etc.

Roofing rafters, ties, struts, purlins and bracing.

Flooring

Walling

Ceiling

Door and windows

Advantages of timber include


o high strength/weight ratio (it is light but strong)
o toughness
o ease of working
o good thermal insulation
o it is more fire resistant than steel
o it has attractive appearance

Disadvantages of timber include


o Anisotropy of timber
o Defects in timber reduce its strength
o Limited in sizes (in section and in length) which are commercially available
o The difficulty of drying large sections

Timber is a term used to describe wood that has been processed for use

Processing of timber involves four basic stages:


o felling cut down by chain saw
o conversion logs cut into sections before seasoning
o seasoning timber dried in a controlled manner
o grading carried out visually or by mechanical means

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TIMBER/WOOD

ANATOMY OF WOOD

Trunk (bole)
o conducts essential mineral salts and moisture from the roots to the leaves, stores
food materials.
Growth rings
o occurs in timber grown in climates having distinct seasonal changes.
Bark
o Outer bark
a rough textured, dense material that protects the living tree from
extremes of temperature, drought and mechanical damage.
comprises dry dead tissue.
o Inner bark
comprises moist, soft material that conducts food synthesised by the
leaves to all growing parts of the tree.
Cambium layer
o an extremely thin, delicate layer.
Easily damaged
o cell divisions within this layer responsible for growth in the thickness of the tree.
Sapwood
o the outer or younger growth containing living cells.
Heartwood
o comprises the inner layers in which the sapwood has become inert (inactive).
o produces substances such as tannin.
Rays
o comprises narrow bands of tissue running radially across the growth rings.
pith
o comprises the core of the tree.

The growth ring has two parts:


- Early wood
o Generally softer, weaker and more porous than the latewood.
Late wood
o Grows more slowly
o Often denser, darker and narrower than the early wood.

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TIMBER/WOOD

Sapwood
Heartwood
- Contains starch (food)
- Produces tannins and other phenolic
- Lighter in colour
compounds that are toxic to insects and
- More attractive to fungi and certain
fungi.
insects because it contains sugars,
starch and water

Composition of wood
-

The walls of timber fibres are composed of cellulose and hemicelluloses and these are
bonded together essentially by lignin.
Sapwood generally contain more lignin than heartwoods.
The properties of the wood differ greatly in the three main directions. The three
directions are:
o Longitudinal (parallel to the direction of the trunk)
o radial (perpendicular to the surface towards the core)
o

tangential

The structural material that can be obtained from the tree is therefore anisotropic.

The strength of the material depends largely on the direction of the cells, with the greatest
strength being in the direction of the cells, longitudinally.

CLASSIFICATION OF MALAYSIAN TIMBERS


-

Malaysian timbers are classified into four categories:


o Heavy Hardwoods (HHW)
o Medium Hardwoods (MHW)

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o
o
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TIMBER/WOOD

Light Hardwoods (LHW)


Softwoods (SW)

The classification of the three categories of Hardwoods is based largely on the average
density of the timbers at 15% moisture content.

Classification
Heavy Hardwood
Medium Hardwood
Light Hardwood
Softwood
(Bontanical distinction)

Classification Table
Density range (15% M.C.)
800 - 1120 kg/m3
720 - 880 kg/m3
400 - 720 kg/m3

CLASS OF SOME STRUCTURAL TIMBERS


Heavy
Hardwoods
Balau
Balau red
Belian Bitis
Chengal
Giam
Kekatong
Keranji
Malangangai
Merbau
Penaga
Penyau
Resak
Tembusu

Medium
Hardwoods
Alan batu
Bekak
Derum
Entapuloh
Geriting
Kandis
Kapur
Kasai
Kayu malam
Tulang daing
Kelat
Keledang
Kempas
Keruing
Keruntum
Kulim
Mata ulat
Mempening
Mengkulang
Meransi
Merawan, Gagil
Merbatu
Merpauh
Mertas
Nyalin
Pauh kijang
Perah
Petaling
Punah
Ranggu
Rengas
Semayur
Senumpul

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Light
Hardwoods
Ara
Alan bunga
Babai
Bayur
Berangan
Bintangor
Binuang
Dedali
Durian
Geronggang serungan
Gerutu
Jelutong
Jongkong
Kedondong
Kelumpang
Kembang semangkok
Ketapang
Kungkur
Laran
Machang
Mahang
Medang
Melantai
Melunak
Mempisang
Meranti bakau
Meranti, dark red
Meranti, light red
Meranti white
Meranti yellow
Merawan
Merbulan
Mersawa

Softwoods
Damar minyak, Malayan kauri
Podo
Sempilor

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Simpoh
Tampoi
Tualang

TIMBER/WOOD

Nyatoh
Pelajau
Penarahan
Perupok
Petai
Pulai
Ramin, Melawis
Rubberwood
Sengkuang
Sentang
Sepetir
Sesendok
Terap
Terentang
White seraya

The distinction between the terms, Hardwood and Softwood, do not always related to
hardness. Thus, a softwood is not necessarily soft and similarly, a hardwood is not necessary
hard.
-

It is based on the botanical convention.


o

Hardwoods (angiosperms)
Not all hardwoods are hard
broad-leaved trees
most are deciduous
losing its leaves in autumn and growing new ones in the spring.

Softwoods (gymnosperms)
not all are soft
some softwood are very hard, strong and durable
needle-like leaves
Conifer evergreens
Tropical trees have leaves all year round

STRESS GRADING
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All timbers used for structural work should be stress graded.

There are two methods of stress grading:


o

Visual stress grading


A grading method that involves the visual judgement of the quality of
timber.

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Machine stress grading


Grading is done by mechanical means that evaluates the Modulus of
Elasticity value of timber

The timber shall be graded in accordance with the Malaysian Grading Rules for sawn
hardwood timber by graders registered with Malaysian Timber Industry Board (MTIB).

Malaysian structural timbers are graded into the following grades:


o

Select structural
Intended for special purposes, particularly when the strength/weight ratio
of the timber is to be a maximum e.g. towers for transmission lines and
trusses of very long span.
80% strength ratio

Standard structural
Should be specified for normal purposes.
63% strength ratio

Common building
Intended for wooden members used in less important parts of building
frames (not designed by calculations).
50% strength ratio

STRENGTH GROUPING
-

Species having similar strength and stiffness properties are grouped together for
simplicity in design.

Common grade stresses are allotted to each group. Seven such strength groups are
formed, namely SG1, SG2, SG3, SG4, SG5, SG6 and SG7 in order of decreasing
strength.

The groups formed are based on the weakest species in the particular group.

SG1
SG2
SG3
A. Naturally Durable Timber
Balau
Bitis
Chengal

Belian
Mata ulat
kekatong

Bekak
Delek
Keranji

Strength Groups of Timber


SG4
SG5
Giam
Malabera
Merbau
Resak

Teak
Tembusu

Berangan
Dedali
Derum
Kapur
Kasai
Keruntum
Mempening

Alan bunga
Babai
Balek angin bopeng
Bintangor
Brazil nut
Gerutu
Kayu kundur

SG6

SG7

B. Timber requiring treatment


Dedaru
Kempas
Merbatu
Mertas

Agoho
Balau, red
Kelat
Kembang semangkok
Kulim
Pauh kijang
Penyau

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Bayur
Damar minyak
Durian
Jelutong
Jenitri
Jongkong
Kasah

Ara
Batai
Geronggang
Laran
Pelajau
Pulai
Sesendok

ECM 206 - CIVIL ENGINEERING MATERIALS

Perah
Petaling
Ranggu
Durian batu
Tualang

TIMBER/WOOD

Meransi
Meranti bakau
Merawan
Merpauh
Nyalin
Perupok
Punah
Rengas
Simpoh

Kedondong
Keledang
Keruing
Ketapang
Kungkur
Melunak
Mempisang
Mengkulang
Meranti, dark red
Meranti white
Nyatoh
Penarahan
Petai
Ramin
Rubberwood
Sengkuang
Sepetir

Machang
Medang
Melantai/Kawang
Meranti, light red
Meranti, yellow
Mersawa
Terap

Terentang

NOTES:
1. For naturally durable timbers, sapwood should be excluded. If sapwood is included, preservative treatment is necessary.
(Source MS360, 1986)
2. For timber requiring treatment, they should be amenable to preservative treatment.

DESIGN STRESSES
The following stresses form the basis of design for various timber components.
-

Basic stress
o stress that can safely be permanently sustained by solid timber containing no
visible strength reducing characteristics.

Grade stress
o Stress which can safely be permanently sustained by material of a specific
section size and of a particular strength group or species and grade.

Wet stress/Green stress


o Stress applicable to material exposed in conditions which would result in timber
having a moisture content exceeding 19%.

Dry stress
o Stress applicable to material exposed in conditions which would result in solid
timber having moisture content not exceeding 19% in service.

Permissible stress
o Stress that can safely be sustained by a structural material under a particular
condition.

Strength ratio
o The ratio of the grade stress to basic stress.

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DEFECTS IN TIMBER
-

Defects can affect the quality of the timber, either by reducing its strength or marring it
appearance.

Natural defects
o Knots
The most obvious natural defect.
A knot is the part of a branch which became enclosed in a growing tree.

Conversion defects
o Wane
Bark or lack of wood on the edge or corner of a piece of wood resulting
from the piece being sawn from near the outer circumference of a
sawlog.

Sloping grain
Results from spiral growth or from conversion which is not parallel to
the axis of the tree.

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Seasoning defects
o Surface check
o Twist
o Cupping
o Honeycombing
o Cut surfaces
o Case hardening
o Spring
o Bow

Deterioration in use

TIMBER/WOOD

Weathering
Water
Flowing water
o Leaching of soluble colour
o Erosion of surface
Wetting and drying
o Expansion and contraction causing mechanical failure in
forms of cracks.
Sunlight
Fading of colour
Embrittlement of surface

Fire

Timber is combustible and evolves smoke and toxic gases.


Timber members survive longer in fires than equivalent unprotected steel
members.

Fungi Decay
The decomposition of wood substance by fungi.
Requirements for growth of fungi:
Suitable food i.e. timber
o In all species growth is more rigorous in sapwood than
in heartwood.
Suitable moisture content of timber

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At least 20 per cent moisture content is required for


colonization although fungi cannot live in saturated
conditions.
Suitable temperature
o Optimum temperature is about 30C. Growth is about
twice as rapid at 21C as at 10C.
Oxygen

Marine borers
Extremely destructive particularly in warm salt waters.
Gribble (limnoria lignorum), a crustacean
o The gribble creates small tunnels in the near surface
layers of exposed timber, weakening the timber which
may be abraded by water action, exposing fresh surfaces
for attack.
Shipworm (teredo navalis), a mollusc
o The shipworm bores into timber through a very small
entry hole which is almost impossible to detect.

Wood-destroying insects
Termites
a serious problem in many warmer temperate countries.
Beetles
In the UK beetles are the chief pest.
Unlike wood-destroying fungi, beetles rarely cause structural
failure.
in the UK the principle beetles in buildings are
o The common furniture beetle
o Death watch beetle
o Power post beetle
o The house longhorn beetle

PROPERTIES OF TIMBERS
-

Properties vary widely between species, between tress of any one species, in different
parts of a tree and in different directions.
o

Density
Expressed as mass per unit volume
The densities of timbers vary widely.
Numerous properties e.g. strength, shrinkage, stiffness and hardness,
increase with increasing density.

Thermal insulation
Timber is a good insulator.

Thermal movement
Thermal expansion is relatively small.

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TIMBER/WOOD

Expansion joints are not normally required.

Behaviour in fire
Fire resistance of timber generally compares favourably with other
structural material and is often better than most.

Chemical resistance
Compared with metals, wood has good resistance to alkalis and weak
acids.

Strength
Timber has a high strength:weight ratio both in tension and compression
and is elastic.
Generally, strength increases with density, particularly within a species.
Strength reduces as moisture content rises.
Temperature rise reduces strength.
Strength is reduced by the particular defects contained in each piece of
timber.

MECHANICAL PROPERTIES
-

Wood has nine independent elastic constants


o Moduli of elasticity (EL , ER, and ET)
o Moduli of rigidity (GL , GR and GT)
o Poissons ratios (RT , TL and RL)

The development of the mechanical properties of important species requires thousands of


tests in order to obtain true average values. Several hundred tests have been performed at
the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM), Kepong.
o

Testing Methods
Static bending test

Impact bending test

Compression parallel to the grain

Compression perpendicular to the grain

Shear parallel to the grain

Hardness test

Tension parallel to the grain

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Static bending test

Compression parallel to the grain test

Compression perpendicular to the grain test

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Shear parallel to the grain test

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TIMBER/WOOD

VARIATIONS IN MOISTURE CONTENT OF TIMBER


-

Drying timber from the green to the normal seasoned condition reduces its density by
50% or more with consequent shrinkage and increases in strength properties, thermal
insulation, resistance to decay and suitability for impregnation, painting and gluing.

MC % = 100 x (weight dry weight) / dry weight

Movements
o Variations in size of timber in response to variation of its moisture content as a
result of changes in atmospheric humidity.

Seasoning
o It is the controlled reduction of moisture content to a level appropriate to the end
use.
Air seasoning
Process of drying timber by exposure to air.
It is a cheap method but a relatively slow process
Kiln seasoning
Process of drying timber by placing the timber in a kiln (large
oven) and exposing the timber to heat for a prescribed period of
time.

Shrinkage
o Shrinkage can result in a number of defects such as twisting, cupping, bowing
and cracking.

DURABILITY OF TIMBER
-

Some timbers are naturally durable and may be long lasting. Others are very susceptible
to deterioration but they can be treated in some way to improve their resistance to fungal
decay and insect attack, these being the two most serious problems.

WOOD PRESERVATIVES
-

Timber can be treated with chemicals to protect it from fungi, insect or mollusc attack.
Wood preservatives can be classified as follows:
o

Coal tar creosote


Inexpensive preservative
For external use
Unsuitable for internal use due to its unpleasant odour
Difficult to paint over satisfactorily

Organic solvents
e.g. organotin, organocopper and organozinc fungicides
Suitable both internal and external uses
Penetration is superior to that of creosote

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TIMBER/WOOD

Waterborne preservatives
e.g. copper/chromium/arsenic compositions
Can be over-painted
Odourless
Deep penetration

METHODS OF PRESERVATION
-

The method used is normally based upon the end-use of the timber, the risk category and
the amenability of the species of timber to treatment.

The following outline descriptions of methods are arranged in ascending order of


efficiency and effectiveness.
o

Brush or spray
The preservative is flooded over the surfaces to encourage absorption.

Immersion
The period of immersion may vary from only a few seconds to a few
minutes or up to one hour.

The hot-and-cold open tank method


The timber is submerged in a tank of suitable preservative which is then
heated for several hours (bet. 80 and 90C). After that allow absorption
by the timber to take place as the liquid cools.

Pressure impregnation
The timber is sealed in a pressure vessel, air is removed under vacuum;
preservative is forced in under strict control and a second vacuum stage
removes excess liquid.

The diffusion process


The timber is close piled for several weeks during which the preservative
diffuses into the wet timber.

STRUCTURAL APPLICATIONS OF TIMBER


-

Marine work
o e.g. wharves, piers, sheet piling, cofferdams
o Nowadays concrete and steel is preferred because good-quality timbers of the
types traditionally used for marine work are difficult to find and are costly.

Heavy construction work


o e.g. piling, bridges
o Timber is still used where availability and cost of materials are favourable.
However, the use of timber in construction industry is being reduced by precast
and/or in situ concrete piles and steel sheet piling.

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TIMBER/WOOD

Medium/light constructional work


o Timber in this type of construction work has much more range of uses due to
availability and east of working and handling of the cheaper types of timber.
o Roof trusses, partitions, screens, floors and wall panels are often produced in
factory in large numbers

PROCESSED TIMBER PRODUCTS


-

The use of solid timber in construction has been gradually reduced by a range of
processed products (sheet materials and glued-laminated members) which can overcome
some of the disadvantages of using solid timber.

Sheet Materials (sheet, board and panel products)


o

Veneer plywood
Commonly referred to simply as plywood.
Plywood is defined in BS6566: Part 2 as a material in which all the plies
are made of veneers (thin sheets of wood) oriented with their plane
parallel to the surface of the panel.
Ply is defined as a measure of thickness of wood.
Veneer is defined as a thin layer or sheet of wood.

Core plywood
Manufactured from strips of solid timber, normally edge-glued together
to form a solid slab of material which is then surfaced with one or two
cross-banded veneers on each face.
Most commonly referred to as blockboard or laminboard. The distinction
between block and laminboard is based on the width of the core strips.
Blockboard
o The core strips can be up to 25 mm wide.
Laminboard
o Strips less than 7 mm wide.

Particleboards
The basis of these materials is that by breaking the wood down into relatively
small pieces, and resembling these pieces with a binder of some kind, the effects
of the original grain structure and natural defects are removed and a more
uniform product can be obtained.

Chipboard
The raw material may be solid wood such as sawmill offcuts,
logging waste, or wood residues.
Fed into a chipper which cuts the required sizes and shape of
particle.
The cips are then dried and screened to separate out oversize
chips and fine dust, and sometimes to classify the chips as face
or core, face chips being finer.

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After that the chips are mixed with a carefully controlled small
quantity of resin and then formed into a mat on a flat plate, the
chips being oriented totally at random.
o In some cases the mat may be layered with finer chips at
the top and bottom to give a smoother surface to the
finished board.
The mat is then pressed to the required thickness in a hightemperature press which brings the particles into intimate contact
and cures the glue.
Manufacture is completed by trimming to size and sanding.

Oriented strand board (OSB)


A type of particle panel product composed of strand-type flakes
that are purposefully aligned in directions that make a panel
stronger, stiffer, and with improved dimensional properties in the
alignment directions than a panel with random flake orientation.

Cement bonded particleboard


Quite different from other boards
o Bonded with cement rather than with sythetic resins.
o Wood content of the finished board is quite low.
o Density is much higher.
o High resistance to fire.

Fibreboard

A broad generic term inclusive of sheet materials of widely varying


densities manufactured of refined or partially refined wood (or other
vegetable) fibers. Bonding agents and other materials may be added to
increase strength, resistance to moisture, fire, or decay, or to improve
some other property.
There are two basic processes
Wet process
o Fibres are added with water to form a slurry which is fed
under thicknessing rollers on to a wire mesh conveyer
where the water drains out.
For hardboards, this sheet is then pressed on
mesh plates to allow the remaining water to
escape, and heated to promote rebonding of the
fibres by their residual lignin content.
For softboard or insulating board, the wet sheet
is simply fed through drying ovens to remove
the moisture and promote the fibre bonding
process.
Dry process
o The fibres are put into a dryer, where they are mixed
with urea formaldehyde or other synthetic resin, before
being formed into a mat on solid plates.

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o
o

TIMBER/WOOD

After an initial pressing the mat is cut to size and then


subjected to heat and pressure to compress the fibres and
cure the resin.
The material produced by this process is called medium
density fibreboard (MDF).

Glue-laminated sections (Glulam)


o
o
o

refers to two or more layers of wood glued together with the grain of all layers or
laminates approximately parallel. The laminates may vary as to species, number,
size, shape and thickness.
Accepted as being generally stronger and stiffer than solid timber.
Advantages of glue-laminated timber include:
Flexibility of shape and size.
High standard of material quality.
It is a controlled factory production.
Superior performance in fire.
There is no need for expansion joints.
o Low coefficient of thermal expansion.
Defects such as knots are restricted to the thickness of one lamination
and their effects overall structural behaviour is significantly reduced.

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