Mass Timber Construction, an Alternative to Steel and Concrete

Mass Timber Construction, an Alternative to Steel and Concrete

May 12, 2022

High-rise buildings are often made of steel and concrete. Ever thought about how a high-rise building can be made of wood? Mass timber construction is a climate-friendly alternative to the traditional building materials for high-rise buildings.


Defining Mass Timber

Mass timber construction is a system of construction using wood as its primary structural material. It is a viable replacement for masonry and metallic structure. The material is made of layers of wood that are stacked together, either glued, nailed, or glued together.

Due to their structural strength, that layer of wood materials can be used in multiple forms of construction, such as beams, columns, floors, roofs, and walls. Its strength is comparable to steel, with a lighter weight.

This building material belongs to a relatively new category of wood products, yet it innovates the way architects think about how buildings could be made and their limitations.


How Mass Timber Performs as a Building Material

Mass wood structures of the same size as concrete or steel will have less weight. However, that does not mean it is weaker than concrete or steel construction.

In fact, this layer of wood is structurally strong, like steel or concrete. This strength is due to how multiple layers of interlocked wood panels form mass timber. The structure is strong enough to withstand earthquakes and strong winds.

This wood layer is also fire resistant. You might think that a wood structure may be susceptible to fire, but mass timber resists fire precisely because it is wood.

When wood burns, it will form a layer of char on the wood’s outer layer. This layer acts as an insulator that keeps the core of the wood from burning, therefore preserving the wood structure’s integrity.

Another unique advantage is its effect on carbon. This building material stores carbon throughout its lifetime. This effect, called carbon sequestering, can reduce the amount of carbon released into the air, possibly slowing or even halting global warming. Producing wood in general also has less carbon cost than manufacturing concrete or steel.

Lastly, the production of these building materials can be sustainable if done right. Modern forestry requires sustainable efforts, such as replanting and selection cutting. With those practices, wood products such as mass timber can be produced repeatedly with minimal damage to nature.