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CCE 520 (Spring 2015)

Civil Engineering Materials
Lecture 15: Wood - 2

Wood is unisortopic.
Strength of wood is high dependent on
direction: tensile strength in
longitudinal:radial:tangential directions vary in
the ratio of 20:1.5:1
Strength of wood is constant above FSP
Below FSP the strength of wood decreases
with increasing moisture
Creep decreases strength of the wood


Sawing Lumber

(Source: Gates Lumber Company, TN)

Sawing Lumber
Plain or Flat Sawn
1. Less waste but more stable
2. Easier to kiln dry
3. More shrinkage in width
4. Less expensive
5. Wider widths
Quartered and Rift Sawn
1. Most waste and therefore most expensive
2. Most stable but narrow widths
3. Shrinks more in thickness than width
4. More difficult to kiln dry
(Source: Gates Lumber Company, TN)


Process-Related Defects


Importance of Saw Location



Softwood Lumber Classification

Board Lumber
Thickness: < 2 in

Dimension Lumber
Thickness: 2 in 4 in

Timber: posts, beams, stringers

Thickness: > 5 in
Width: > 5 in
(Source: B&D Softwood)

Dimension Lumber
Used in most structural applications
Popular sizes:
X-section: 2x4, 2x6, 2x8, 2x10, 2x12
Length: 8 ft, 10, ft, 12 ft (max 28 ft)

The cross section of softwood lumber is

specified by nominal dimensions
2x4 lumber
Nominal dimensions: 2 in x 4 in
Actual dimensions: 1 in x 3 in


Dimension Lumber
Sold by volume
Unit: board foot (bd-ft)
1 bd ft = volume of 1 in x 1ft x 1ft lumber
1 ft3 = 12 bd ft

Engineered (Structural) Products

Glulam lumber
Structural Composite Lumber (SCL)
Plywood Panels
Oriented Strandboard Panels (OSB)


Glulam Members
Engineered product
Glue-laminated lumber
Individual lumbers pieces glued together
Large cross sections

(Source: American Laminators)

(Source: Pan Abode Building Products

Structural Composite Lumber

Laminated veneer lumber (LVL)
Dried wood veneers (wood slices less than 3
mm or 1/8 in thick) are glued together
Grains of veneers run in the same direction
Unlike plywood (veneers are cross grained)

(Source: Fine Home Building)


Plywood Panels
Glued wood veneers under heat and pressure
Grains direction is changed in each layer (cross

Oriented Strandboard Panels

Made with wood strands
Alternate layers of strands are oriented at
right angles to each other
The several layers are glued under heat and

(Source: Lionel Allorge)


Durability - Fire, rot, termite attack

Fire The fire resistance of wood is not that bad if the members are large. The burn rate is
slow and predictable.
Fire resistance can be increased by treating the wood with fire-retardant chemicals.
The most common are salt solutions that are absorbed into the pores of the dry
wood. When the water evaporates, the salt remains in the pores. The salts hinder
the access of oxygen to the burning zone.
Fire resistance can also be increased by using various sprayed coatings. Most are
harmless. One in particular (asbestos) can cause cancer, and should not be used.

Durability - Fire, rot, termite attack

Rot Rot is caused by micro-organisms that
require water (rotting occurs when wood is wet)
are aerobic (rotting can only occur in the presence of oxygen)

Therefore, rotting requires moist air, or cycles of saturation and drying. Rotting can be
prevented if wood is kept dry (no water) or under water (no oxygen).


Durability - Fire, rot, termite attack

Termite Attack A significant problem with wood, especially in wood-based construction. Termites are
wood-eating insects.
They build nests as much as 20 to 30 feet below the surface of the ground.
They need moisture.
When they feed on wood at the surface, they build mud channels to go from
underground to the wood and the tunnels keep the termites moist

Protecting against termites


Termite channel, permitting

termite attack of wooden

metal sheet

Use of termite shield to

prevent termite attack

Use termite shields (see above).

Protect wood with chemicals that kill termites (usually
pentachlorophenol). Note that this is a carcinogen.
This is not effective if brushed on after construction, because it will not
permeate the areas where termites will travel and feed. To be effective, it
must soak into the cut end of the wood.
Termites seem to like dark wood less (higher lignin content).