5 rules of building with wood, from author and architect Duo Dickinson, AIA, Madison, Conn.

January 24, 2009 |

Author, lecturer, and architect Duo Dickinson, AIA, principal of his eponymous design firm in Madison, Conn., explains that there are many complexities when dealing with wood.

Even wood from the same log has different properties. Adding engineered wood or reclaimed wood to the mix makes things even more complicated.

To simplify things, Dickinson offers a few tried-and-true rules for building with wood:

1 Avoid wet materials. When the temperature is above 50ºF, wood that gets wet and stays wet for a very long period of time will destabilize due to rot, swelling, and decay.

2 Protect against sun. Exposed surfaces of wood that sit out in the blazing sun for a very long period of time will begin to destabilize.

3 Don’t attach wood at the end grain. It’s never a good idea to attach any fastener into the end grain of any wood, says Dickinson.

4 Specify for strength. Quarter-sawn wood is always stronger and more stable than flat-sawn wood.

5 Follow vendor recommendations. Never deviate from the recommended attachment and installation procedures or assemblies prescribed by engineered-wood companies supplying your building products.

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