Here’s a quick question for you. What do Shakespeare’s Globe, Liberty of London and the Stirling prize-winning Savill Building all have in common?
The answer is that they were all built using oak.
But oak is far from being a building material of the past: more and more modern houses are using oak frames to achieve a wide range of styles by marrying oak with brick and other building materials.
- Oak timber frames can be combined with the warm tones of Cotswold stone for a rustic look.
- Inventive brickwork can add a truly modern finish to the wooden frame of houses.
- And existing homes are using oak cladding to add character and personality to their facades.
There are many reasons to consider using oak in your build to complement and enhance other building materials you may be using.
Here are just some of them.
Almost all the oak used by builders in Britain is sourced from sustainable plantations. We would never consider using green oak that isn’t.
Green oak is made from young trees – and offers the perfect material for superior craftsmanship as it can easily be cut and shaped to suit different requirements.
The constant round of newly planted trees benefits us all. Young trees need more CO₂ to grow than mature ones: every piece of green oak used does its bit for the environment.
Wood also has the lowest CO₂ cost of any commercially available building material. In fact, for every cubic metre where wood, rather than another building material is used, as much as one tonne of CO₂ is saved from the atmosphere.
In any medium-sized building using an oak frame saves three tonnes (or 15%) from the carbon footprint of a build.
Another feather in oak’s eco-credential cap is that its cellular structure provides exceptional thermal insulation that helps to save energy over the life of a building. And, as the Globe and many other historic buildings reveal, oak has a remarkably long-life.
When you think about it the hardiness of oak should be obvious. The wood’s natural habitat is the great outdoors so it is, by nature, weather-resistant. The only marked effect of time on oak is to gradually gain an attractive silvery grey colour from sunlight outside, or to turn a honeyed hew due to oxidisation inside.
The high moisture content of the young green oak used for houses is one of the reasons that the wood ages so well. As it ages it dries: and this drying process is one of oak’s best assets because, as the frame seasons, it tightens and becomes stronger and harder.
The natural preservative in oak, tannin, protects it against both rot and insect attack. As it ages and becomes denser this repellent gets stronger as the wood compacts, meaning it is incredibly rare for insects to penetrate its solid core.
It is this density that also makes oak such a fire-resistant material. In the event of a fire, oak maintains its structural integrity for much longer than many other materials. Where steel buckles and weakens, oak retains its strength in the face of the most intense fires.
Oak not only adds character and a sense of warmth to a build, it also adds distinction. It helps to add a stamp of the personal to a build and set it off against other finishes.
Why not give us a call on 01444 455455 to outline your vision for your build. You can take a look at some of the oak houses we’ve built here.
Together, we can make it happen.