Wood: A truly remarkable natural resource

As professionals in the building industry, we work with wood structural products every day but may take for granted what wood represents a resource that we use in our lives. You can find wood in structures and products all over our planet.  Wood has been a building block of our civilizations for ages.  The applications for which it can be used seem to be always expanding and I am continually amazed at what can be done with wood.  What makes wood such a remarkable resource?  Let’s take a look.

We can grow it:

Wood is a naturally occurring material.  You can plant some seeds, add some water, and after some time you have a tree that can be used for the production of a myriad of products. That may be a little simplified, but the fact that we can create a raw material simply thru a natural process and not one that requires any mechanical or industrial process is remarkable.  If managed correctly, wood can be a sustainable resource for generations to come.



Wood can take many different forms:

Wood is all around you during your day in many different forms.  For those of us in the building industry, it’s used in every facet of the building process from studs, rafters, trusses, I-joists, beams, plywood, trim, cabinets, and furniture to name a few.  Wood is used to create instruments, works of art, toys, and sports equipment.

“Wood is made of tiny fibers called cellulose and the natural glue that holds them together is called lignin.  When wood is turned into pulp for paper, heat and chemicals dissolve the lignin and release the cellulose fibers.  By-products of this process are used in asphalt, paint, chewing gum and turpentine.   Other refined cellulose products include rayon, nitrocellulose which is used in the production of nail polish, solid rocket fuel, and industrial explosives. “1

These are only a few of the products that can be created from wood – the list can go on and on, but it is clear just how versatile wood can be.



Wood can be formed

Compared to materials such as steel and hardened concrete, wood is relatively soft and can be manipulated into many unique shapes and forms.


Wood is structurally very strong

As a building material wood has many advantages.  One of those being its strength to weight ratio. “ A comparison with steel and concrete shows that structural timber has a strength to weight ratio 20 percent higher than structural steel and four to five times higher than non-reinforced concrete in compression.”2


Wood is environmentally friendly

Wood is the only naturally renewable mainstream building material.  Trees give off oxygen and consume carbon dioxide.  There is not the impact on the environment to produce trees that you have when producing other materials such and steel and concrete.

Wood is aesthetic

Quite simply wood looks good.  It can make spaces feel warm and inviting.  With all the different varieties of wood and finishes available, you can create almost any look you want.


These characteristics are just a handful of reasons why wood is such a remarkable resource.  Hopefully, this post will get you thinking of others and help to increase your appreciation of this resource.

I would also invite you to read some previous posts related to this topic.



1 www.idahoforests.org

2 http://makeitwood.org


Bill Hoover

Operations Manager

Gould Design, Inc.