What is wood?

Wood is one of the most widely used, versatile, aesthetic and renewable materials available to mankind. For thousands of years, people have used wood for a wide variety of purposes: in construction, for the production of vehicles (boats, carts, airplanes), musical instruments, tools, weapons, fuel, furniture, medicines, paper, and also as a raw material for the chemical industry. Many other useful products can be obtained from the leaves and fruits of the tree. The value of wood is extremely high, so the main task of mankind is to protect the forest and extend the life of wooden products as much as possible by properly caring for them.

Everyone knows how wood is obtained. And what do we know about what it consists of or how it is formed?

Wood is the name given to a hard structured material produced by certain plants, mainly trees, but also shrubs and some climbing plants such as vines and creepers. The wood of climbing plants is used extremely rarely, so in the encyclopedia we will mainly consider material obtained from trees.

The cellular structure of wood gives the tree the strength it needs to support its own weight, and forms channels through which water, nutrients, and other chemicals move through the tree to keep it alive and growing. Mostly wood is obtained from the trunk of a tree, but branches and roots also consist of it.

Wood is formed through photosynthesis (the reaction of carbon dioxide with water under the influence of sunlight), which produces many chemicals. Some of them form the cellular structure of wood, others interspersed with it, giving it various properties, such as color and strength.

Benefits of using wood

Wood is one of the few renewable  building materials . With the right organization of forestry activities and with proper control, it is possible to fully satisfy the demand for wood, because new trees grow instead of felled trees. AkzoNobel is involved in the development of responsible and sustainable forest management by supporting the initiatives of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Growing trees absorb carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) from the atmosphere, which becomes part of the wood structure. At the same time, oxygen is released into the atmosphere, which is necessary for life on Earth. The health and quality of forest areas are critical in combating global climate change caused by rising carbon dioxide levels.

Wood is a relatively economical material, especially in regions rich in forest resources.

Wood has good thermal insulation properties, which is why it is often used in the construction of buildings, as it allows you to save heat and thereby reduce energy costs. The heat transfer resistance of a 2.5 cm thick wooden floor is higher than that of a 11.4 cm thick brick wall 1. In many countries, wood is once again becoming the main building material to save energy in buildings.

Pros and cons of using wood 

Wood is also a good electrical insulator and is practically unaffected by changes in dimensions during normal fluctuations in ambient temperature (in the absence of a sharp change in humidity). The structure of wood provides an excellent strength-to-weight ratio, which makes it possible to create relatively light and strong structures from it.

Wood is a material that can be processed with simple tools. Even a person who does not have special skills can make products of various shapes from it. Wood is easy to glue, it is easy to fasten it with nails, screws and self-tapping screws, which allows you to create complex and durable structural elements. Parts made of wood are often much easier to repair than some other materials such as plastic.

The environmental benefits of wood are not limited to those mentioned above: processing wood into wood and then into wooden parts consumes less energy than processing many other building materials. Experts estimate that the production of a PVC window can require eight times more energy than the production of a similar wooden window 2 .

Wood structures have a long service life; many wooden buildings stand for hundreds of years. The durability of wood depends on many factors, such as the type of wood, construction and design features, surface treatment with a protective coating and the treatment of the wood itself.

Compared to various materials such as steel, wood behaves more predictably when exposed to fire because its burning rate can be calculated and there is no sudden loss of strength due to melting.

Wood has pronounced aesthetic properties. The texture, texture, color, presence of knots and other features give each element
of wood a unique appearance. In addition, wood is perfectly combined with other building materials.

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