Timber Trade Federation
Members login
Representing the interests of
the wood and wood products industry

Timber Durability

There is much misconception about the ability of wood to perform under harsh conditions. However, the correct choice of product, good design and the help of technology mean that almost any end-use can now have a wood based solution.

Natural Properties

Wood is such a unique and diverse material that many end-use solutions can be found just by the appropriate choice of species. Research has divided commercial timbers into five durability classes, each with a defined life expectancy. The heartwood of species with a rating of Durable or Very Durable can be successfully used in exterior situations without the support of preservative treatments. For more information please visit the Wood for Good website

Preservatives and Finishes

Preservatives are products applied to timber in order to enhance its natural durability. Meanwhile, Finishes are applied to alter the appearance of timber, but in doing so they may or may not extend its life expectancy.

As there are many types of products and many methods of application it is important when specifying preservatives and finishes to be clear about where the timber product is to be used, how long it is expected to last, and how often it will need to be maintained. For more information it is suggested end users visit the Wood Protection Association website.  TTF Members can access additional information by using this link.

All wood preservatives used in the UK must obtain government approval under the Control of Pesticides Regulations and some traditional wood preservatives are now subject to restrictions in relation to these regulations. Further details can be found below.  

Please click here for guidance on the use of chromated copper arsenate (CCA) preservative.

For guidance on the use of creosote and creosote-treated timber please click here. TTF Members can view further information on creososte if they click here

The Environment Agency launched a new enforcement campaign in February 2010 regarding certain anti fouling paints in Marine uses. Companies supplying the Marine Industry should make sure they are not selling any of the banned types and may wish to help their customers by passing on this information. Full details can be found by downloading the following Environment Agency Guides on marine antifouling paints 1, 2.

TTF Members can click here to download the Secretary of State's Guidance on VOC emissions from solvent-based timber preservative treatment plants. 


The use of timber and wood based products can help improve the fire safety of structures in many ways. wood based fire doors are a prime example, by helping to contain the problem and giving occupants the opportunity to escape. Other timber elements such as beams or joists will perform in a predicable way during a fire, which means the integrity of a building can be maintained for a known period of time, helping to prevent the loss of life and minimise damage. For more information visit the Chiltern Fire website.

It’s worth pointing out that completed timber frame buildings that meet all current UK Building Regulations and standards are entirely safe from fire. However, it is true that all sites under construction, whichever method of construction is used, are potentially vulnerable to fire due to criminal incidents or accidents. For a guide to Fire Safety on Timber Frame Construction Sites please click here.