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Home > A brief history of Wooden Buildings

A brief history of Wooden Buildings

Wood is one of the oldest building materials in human history. Wood has been used for a number of different purposes, including as fuel, packaging, paper and artwork, but wood in the early days was used primarily for tools and construction.

Wood has served as an important construction material for thousands of years for humans to build shelters, houses, boats and many other structures.

In the stone ages materials such as wood, animal bones and stone would be whittled to make tools for building. The copper and bronze age then saw the introduction of metals which advanced the uses of wood for building.

Read on to find out more about the history of wooden buildings and how the material has become crucial to building projects worldwide for thousands of centuries.

Early uses for wood in construction

It is thought that the first wooden structure was built over 10,000 years ago. Europe’s Neolithic longhouse, constructed in around 5000 to 6000 BC is an example of one of the earliest free-standing timber dwellings. It is thought that early examples of such structures would house around twenty to thirty people, had no windows and just one doorway which was located at one end of the house. Inside, the area nearest the door would be used for working activities where there was more light, the middle section would be used for sleeping and eating and the end of the building would be used to store grains.

In the new stone age, wood became an important element in the construction of housing. Wattle and daub, (that is, a combination of woven wooden lattices and an adhesive material usually made from soil, clay, straw or animal dung) would be used to build walls.

The Iron Age was a time when woodwork advanced and larger structures were built. Organic materials such as leather, rope and thatching reed were used to build. Roundhouses were a popular and standard form of housing from the Bronze Age through to the Iron age and were made using wooden posts joined together with wattle and daub.

In the Middle Ages, timber-framed buildings became more popular. Timber framed buildings are easy to construct and easy to remove. Traditional timber framing is the practice of creating a building ‘skeleton’ using timber.

Timber-framed buildings meant that more prefabricated buildings could be constructed and cities, towns and villages began to expand. Throughout the UK we can still see examples of timber-framed buildings dating back hundreds of years, and until the Victorian era, it was an extremely popular method not only for the construction of houses but for shipbuilding too.

Oak became a predominant timber for structural purposes in the UK because of the country’s rich supply of oak trees. This type of wood is incredibly strong and durable making it an ideal material for free-standing structures.

One of the oldest oak buildings in the UK and in fact, thought to be one of the oldest wooden buildings in Europe still stands. Greensted Church in Essex is a church that has stood for nearly 1,200 years. Evidence suggests that there may have been a church on the site dating back to the 4th century. This is one of the great examples of how wooden structures can stand the test of time.

In the Middle-ages, carpenters were amongst the most skilled craftspeople around and were particularly high in demand for the construction of buildings. Carpenters had and still do operate with an understanding of nature and the trees that they use.

The modern-day

Wood is still used as a primary material for construction today. In modern-day buildings, wood is used as a frame for brick housing or commercial buildings and these structures are often enhanced with the help of steel and bronze for them to become sturdier and longer-lasting.

Despite there being more materials on the market than there ever have been before, popularity for wood is not slowing down. Wood has proven health benefits and is sustainable, renewable and aesthetically pleasing; all important factors that consumers now seek in the housing market.

The demand for sustainable, environmentally friendly buildings is also growing because of the ability for these houses to save people time, money and help the environment.


Engineered timber is meeting the criteria for sustainable housing. Engineered timber products are manufactured by bonding together wood with various different materials and adhesives. The result is products such as laminated timber, plywood and hardboard, which can all be used in elements of a construction project.

Wooden structures are also a lot quicker to build than other materials, are quieter to construct and lighter to carry than steel structures. Engineered sub-products of wood like cross-laminated timber are ideal for meeting the demands for the eco-conscious consumer because the material is strong, durable, insulating and can be prefabricated.

Why is wood so popular?

Wood is a popular and historic material, as we have discussed. Wood is so popular because it offers so many benefits compared to other materials.

Wood outweighs many other materials because of its environmental impact and performance.
Here are a few reasons why wood is such a good building material:

Durability

Wood, although lightweight is undoubtedly strong. When wood is preserved in the correct way, it can last hundreds of years. Structurally, timber is extremely strong and has a weight ratio higher than reinforced concrete when compressed. It’s also resistant to heat, frost, pollution and corrosion- making it the ideal building material.

Insulating

Wood is a natural insulator and is ideal for building housing or sheds. This is because wood has air pockets within its structure, making it far better at retaining heat compared to concrete, steel and aluminium. When a building is made with wood it retains the heat and therefore keeps the costs of heating down.

Good for wellbeing

Aside from wood being structurally great for building, research has suggested that using wood in the interior of a building has psychological and physiological benefits. People often associate wood with spending time outside and amongst nature. When wood is used indoors, it is thought that some people get the same feeling of comfort and satisfaction as they would outdoors. This means that blood pressure, heart rates and anxiety reduces and makes people feel generally calmer.

Sound absorption

Wood absorbs sound better than other materials, making it better for building offices or houses because it doesn’t echo.

It’s renewable

Unlike other building materials like concrete, wood is renewable. Wood can be grown, regrown and recycled. Wooden buildings can be deconstructed or reused and repurposed which is great for saving on other materials. Steel and concrete structures consume a lot more energy and emit substantially more greenhouse gases. Wood helps to sustain our forests and increases the world’s carbon storage potential.

It’s biodegradable

We are all aware of the uses that wood has when recycled, but when wood does reach the end of its life cycle, it can biodegrade. When wood is exposed to its natural climate conditions it will decompose quickly, keeping soil replenished in this action.

Kirton Sectional Buildings: High-quality wooden structures from wooden outbuildings to timber workshops

At Kirton Sectional Buildings, we have built a reputation for building high quality wooden buildings over our 31 years of trading. We build a vast range of products to compliment all types of garden. Whether you’re after a garden shed to store your garden tools, a fully glazed greenhouse to grow your own vegetables and herbs or a studio summerhouse to kick-back in during the hot summer evenings, we have the right product to suit your needs. We also offer free delivery and installation if you live within 70 miles of our base in Lincolnshire.

Visit our store online or give us a call to discuss your requirements.


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