Pros & Cons: Wood as a Building Material

By Brian Ki, P.E. | November 21, 2019

Wood, or lumber, is considered as one of the oldest and most convenient materials used to construct any type of building or structure. Whether it’s 2×4’s or 2×12’s, the material literally grows on trees and is widely available. Because wood is also lightweight and can easily be cut, contractors typically consider lumber as their go-to building material.

From an engineering standpoint, wood has many pros and cons that may not be known to the average person. You may be surprised to read some of the properties below:


  • Variation: According to the Botanical Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), there are over 60,000 different species of wood in the world, each with its own distinct properties. One piece of lumber may be prettier than the other, and another may be stronger in strength. One thing is certain, there definitely is a variety from which to choose.
  • Acoustics: We all know wood is a common material used to construct most instruments. This is because wood is ideal for sound absorption by preventing echoes and vibrating noise. When it comes to buildings, wood is heavily favorited in concert halls.
  • Warmth: Wood generally gives off a warmer feeling when compared to concrete or steel materials. This is because the amount of energy to change the temperature, or specific heat, of wood is almost twice that of concrete and three times that of steel.
  • Maintenance & Repair: Wood is easy to maintain and repair. There are many treatments for wood finishes including oils, stains, and paints that can be applied and effective within a few hours. If repairs are needed, both contractors and homeowners can easily use handheld tools to cut, plain, or fasten wooden materials together.


  • Shrinkage and Swelling: Trees need water to grow and wooden materials can easily absorb water if not treated or maintained properly. When water gets into the wooden fibers, the material expands, and its structural properties become much weaker.
  • Pests & Fungi: Certain pests, insects, and fungi have the ability to digest wood. If a home is not protected against them, it’s a never-ending buffet. Some small insects, such as termites, may drill and drive lines into the wood fibers that can lead to significant deterioration of the wood material before it’s too late. Not only will pest treatments be needed, but wooden structural members may need to be replaced as well.
  • Fire: Unless treated with chemicals, wood can easily catch fire and is considered a combustible material. Thicker wood may extend the burning point of wooden materials, but engineered materials, such as oriented strand board or engineered I-joists, can easily catch fire, burn quickly, and spread very fast.

If you, as a homeowner, or your contractor have any questions about using wooden materials and their properties, feel free to contact us at Team Engineering. We’d be happy to share our thoughts and help you with your upcoming projects.

10 thoughts on “Pros & Cons: Wood as a Building Material

  1. Eli Richardson

    My wife and I are interested in investing in building our dream house, so we’re currently researching construction materials. It’s interesting to know how wood could be repaired and maintained easily, so we’ll look into it thoroughly. Thanks for the information on building materials and why wood’s an effective one.

  2. Victoria Addington

    Thank you for mentioning that wood is a fantastic building material because it is simple to maintain and repair. A bridge would be a terrific addition to the current project that my uncle has been considering, in my opinion. Yet it could be far better to work with someone who has experience creating one rather than trying to do it yourself. I’ll make sure to let him know about this and look for professional contractors for him. I appreciate you sharing!

  3. Shammy Peterson

    What caught my attention was when you said that handheld tools can easily be used by contractors or homeowners to maintain or repair wood. This reminds me of my mother who is interested in ordering structural timber that can be used for the construction of her log cabin later this month. I will ask her to consider your tips in order to ensure that wood materials will benefit her in the best possible way.

  4. Luke Smith

    I like that you mentioned how wood generally gives off a warmer feeling when compared to concrete or steel materials. We want our house to have a warm impression and I think using would for our house would help with that. So first off, we need to get some supplies from a lumber yard.

  5. Clare Martin

    It’s good that you emphasized that there is a variety to choose from when it comes to wood, each with its distinct properties that can make it either sturdier or prettier than the other. I’m building a vacation house in Grayson County starting next month, so I need to get my lumber supply ready for the project since I plan to have the structure made of wood. I’ll be sure to keep this in mind while I look for a lumber supplier operating in Grayson County to hire for this project soon.

  6. Sam Andrews

    G’day! I must praise your effort in showcasing just how simple it is to upkeep wooden-based structures. This might help my step-uncle contact the right supplier as soon as possible. He’s determined to build a small storeroom in his backyard sometime later.

  7. Lily Bridgers

    I appreciate you pointing out that wood is a great building material since it is so easy to maintain and fix. I think a bridge would be a great addition to the project my uncle has been thinking about. However, working with someone who has expertise designing one would be preferable to attempting to do it yourself. I’ll be sure to inform him of this and find him a good lumber supplier. Thank you for sharing!


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