The characteristics of good quality timber

Whether to build a deck in your garden or create a new kitchen table, when you purchase sustainable timber, you would like to think you are going to receive good-quality wood. But what does that mean? Timber is a natural resource, so defects are to be expected. There are, however, ways to work out whether the timber you are buying is of high quality or not, and it all comes down to grading.

What Is Timber Grading?

When using timber for construction purposes, it is vital that it is graded beforehand. Grading takes into account the strength, stiffness and overall durability of the timber, looking at structural properties such as slope of grain, size and type of knots, etc to get a better idea of overall quality. The timber is then sorted into different groups based on the result of the grading, helping buyers identify the right choice for their needs.

There are many strength grades for UK timber, set by the British Standard BS 5268, the most common of which are C16 and C24 for softwoods and run from D18 to D70 for hardwoods.

What Makes a High-Quality Timber?

There are a number of characteristics that make good quality timber. These include:

  • Lack of colour variation

  • Lack of splits and shakes

  • Lack of knots

  • Strong and hard 

  • Low moisture content

Different types of timber are also considered superior to others, depending on the intended use. Oak, for example, is considered a high-quality timber for various purposes, including exterior and interior construction, because of its high strength and durability against fungal decay.

Visual and Strength Grading

When grading timber based on its quality, there are two different methods: visual and strength grading. Visual grading looks for defects in the wood, such as knots, and is based on the expertise of the grader. 

Machine grading or strength grading is done using machinery which analyses the strength and stiffness of timber. Usually, this is done when there is a high volume of timber from the same species. If there is not as much timber, visual grading is often the preferred method.

Why Is Timber Graded?

Timber is graded to give the buyer more information on the quality of the wood. If the timber is stamped with a C16 grade, for example, the buyer knows it has been kiln-dried to reduce moisture and increase strength whilst still allowing the wood to bend in construction according to permissible levels. However, it may have visual defects, such as some knots in the wood or sap stains. This gives the designer, engineer and ultimately the client all the information they need to know to ensure they select the correct timber for their purpose. 

Find Quality Timber at EcoChoice

At EcoChoice, we source high-quality, sustainable timber for construction projects in the UK. Whether you are building a pier or installing cladding in your home, we have what you need – and we can deliver it with the appropriate grading required! Our team are experts in all things timber, too, so can match your purpose to the right type and grade of timber, making it easier to find exactly what you seek.

To learn more, feel free to get in touch with our team today and let us get started on your project!

Image: Vladeep /

Tags: ,


How can we help?