Building materials

From an environmental point of view, sustainably sourced wood is one of the best building materials. Items such as wooden window frames, doors and floors are, also, generally more cost effective and attractive than non-wood alternatives.The production and disposal of PVC-u items involves the release of highly poisonous chemicals. The National House Builders Federation concluded in its 1998 report 'Standards in Quality & Development' that softwood was preferable to PVC-u windows both in terms of initial capital costs and life cycle costs.

A sympathetic restoration may be a positive feature when selling your home. Formerly, native British hardwoods such as oak, elm, ash and hazel were used, almost exclusively, in construction. Use of these timbers has now declined to such an extent that many small woodlands lie in a neglected state. At the same time, exploitation of tropical timbers, like mahogany, is having a disastrous effect on the native peoples and ecosystems of the countries where they occur.

Extinction of species dependent on the rainforests, extensive soil erosion and a massive increase in carbon dioxide (one of the main greenhouse gases) from uncontrolled forest fires are just some of the problems being caused. Imported timber also has an environmental cost in terms of the fossil fuels needed to transport it. For these reasons, preference should be given to:

Native Hardwoods: The ideal choice. This may be a more expensive option in the short term but appropriate British hardwoods are extremely durable.

FSC logo
Forestry Stewardship
Council

Softwoods: e.g. pine. Preferable to plastics and tropical hardwood timber. Ensure the timber comes from a sustainable source (Forestry Stewardship Council certificated) and choose the preservative with care. Avoid preservatives which contain penta-chlorophenol, lindane or tributyltin oxide as these persist in the environment and may be harmful to humans.

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Last updated:
23/02/2016

Assigned review date:
18/02/2017

Awaiting page content review by the allocated team


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