Choosing a tree for construction

In Russia, wood has long been used for construction. It is great for all climates. And today this traditional material is often used in the construction of beautiful and warm houses. Its special properties allow you to achieve a high level of comfort in rooms..

Our ancestors were very careful about the choice and preparation of wood for a felling. Timber was usually harvested in winter or early spring, “while the tree is sleeping and the excess water has gone into the ground”

In recent years, many new materials and technologies have appeared on the suburban housing market. Nevertheless, wooden houses continue to be the most popular among individual developers. This popularity is largely due to the fact that in our country, timber is the cheapest building material. In addition, it is in the tree that architectural features and artistic images dictated by the national traditions of Russian architecture can be embodied. Of course, natural origin is of great importance, which determines the ecological cleanliness of wooden buildings, good air permeability. Finally, wood is an excellent heat insulator. This allows you to maintain an optimal ratio of temperature and humidity inside the log house. It is easy to breathe in a wooden house, pleasant and comfortable in any weather.

Our ancestors were very careful about the choice and preparation of wood for a felling. Only ripe, healthy wood was selected, without rot and wormholes, approximately the same thickness, with an even surface. Timber was usually harvested in winter or early spring, “while the tree is sleeping and the excess water has gone into the ground”.

The wood was taken out of the forest and immediately cleared of bark. It is known that freshly cut wood has a moisture content of 30% in winter. But for making a log house, dried wood (18–20 percent moisture content) is suitable. To obtain such wood, it was kept under a canopy. The logs were stacked on pads to ensure through-ventilation. Bark, sawdust and other waste were burned to protect the harvested logs from the wood-eating beetle.

Today, timber is harvested in about the same way, according to all the rules of traditional wooden housing construction..

For the manufacture of log houses, coniferous forest materials are usually used: pine, spruce, larch, cedar and fir. Coniferous wood is stronger than most common hardwoods and is less prone to decay. Coniferous trunks have a more regular shape, which allows for more full use of their volume.

Pine is distinguished by the greatest straight trunk, the minimum number of knots and good technical properties. With a high resistance to decay, it nevertheless tends to “turn blue” (with high humidity, especially in July-August). The blue itself does not change the physical and mechanical properties of wood, but spoils the appearance. Pine is the most common material for the construction of wooden houses, both here and in Europe..

Spruce is less commonly used in construction. In a dry state, spruce wood is almost as strong as pine wood. Spruce is more prone to decay, but much less blue. It resists moisture worse than other wood species, so it is preferable to use it for interior decoration. Spruce has a slightly looser structure, but due to this, it is somewhat warmer than pine. Although its consumer properties are somewhat less suitable for the manufacture of chopped walls due to its lower density and lower resin content, nevertheless, spruce wood can be recommended for the manufacture of load-bearing elements of floors (beams, slabs). On the world market, spruce is quoted above pine. For conifers, spruce is short-lived – rarely grows for more than 200 years.

Larch is stronger, denser and more resistant to decay than pine, but harder to work and breaks easily. It is ideal as a wall material, used as a material for structures (beams, valleys, rafters, tightening, etc.). Larch is more resistant to dampness and is highly valued, 2–3 times more expensive than pine. Larch is the only tree that does not rot in sea water. For the manufacture of a log house, wood is used with a diameter of 26 cm to 40 cm, and sometimes even higher. The choice of the diameter of the log depends on the wishes and financial capabilities of the customer, on the climatic conditions and the seasonality of house operation; as well as the requirements for the external aesthetics of a log house. In addition to the thickness of the logs, an important aesthetic indicator for the use of a log is its knotty. The pine in the lower part of the trunk has practically no knots, therefore the most expensive, but also better quality, is the so-called butt cut – the lower 6-8 meters of the trunk. In Russia, the most common is a round profile of a log, the so-called round timber, in addition, you can use a round timber with a protrusion, that is, a log hewn one edge from the inside. But it should be borne in mind that this is a very laborious work, leading to an increase in the cost of a log house. In Scandinavia, two-edged logs are widely used. The walls are in fact straight from the outside as well as from the inside without losing the aesthetics of the hand-cut house. The first operation to prepare a log for the manufacture of a log house is its debarking and shaving. Barking a log is usually done without the use of a power tool. The sharpening, on the other hand, is done with electric planers. At the moment, the technology of debarking logs without damaging the sapwood and without subsequent cutting is being mastered. Sapwood is the top, most dense layer of the tree, which has a protective function. Preservation of this layer helps to reduce the formation of cracks and avoid other defects in the wood. Most often, when debarking, small areas of bast remain on the log with minor damage to the wood. After drying, the bast darkens, and the log acquires a piebald color, characteristic of not planed logs. Some customers refuse to trim the logs for this characteristic color and to avoid damaging the fibrous structure of the wood. However, it should be remembered that the bast is most susceptible to rotting, therefore, in most cases, the log is cut off. To protect the wood from rotting, the entire surface of the log is treated with a thin layer of antiseptic. And the ends of the logs, cups, groove, cuts, grooves and grooves are impregnated most thoroughly, since the fibrous structure of the wood is disturbed there. With the help of an antiseptic, the logs can be given a color shade of the customer’s choice.

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