23 June 2021

Fundamentals of timber – Up first: Using and specifying timber

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Learn with TRADA Live: Fundamentals of timber provides a comprehensive overview of the many aspects of timber and is intended as an introductory resource for newcomers to the material and those looking to construct a strong foundational layer of knowledge upon which to build with the support of a trusted authority like TRADA.


The first session is What you need to consider when using and specifying timber with Phil O’Leary, Technical Manager, at BM TRADA.


It will see Phil provide insight into the following: the versatility of wood and its limitations; challenges and issues to be considered when using timber in a wide range of applications and environments; and choice of species through to correctly detailing for the end use.​



Tuesday, 6 July 2021
12:00–13:00 (UK time)



TRADA members: Free

Non-members: £30 +VAT per session

Students at member universities: Free

Students at non-member universities: £15 +VAT per session


Learn with TRADA Live events are always free to TRADA members. Not yet a member but keen to be? Give TRADA’s membership team a call on 01494 569603 or email membership@trada.co.uk.


About the speaker

Phil O’Leary, Technical Manager, BM TRADA

Phil is responsible for leading BM TRADA’s Timber Consultancy – the UK’s pre-eminent team of timber experts – whose specialist areas are structural condition surveys (condition, defects and remedial), in-situ visual grading (justification of enhanced design values), fungal and insect attack, ongoing monitoring, moisture content monitoring, inspection and maintenance programs, and on site failure investigation.


Phil’s particular expertise is in the quality, grading, performance characteristics, deterioration and preservation of different kinds of timber for different uses. He has carried out inspections of many industrial infrastructures, including railway, marine piers, critical cooling towers at nuclear plants and power stations, MOD structures and National Air Traffic Services communication towers.


He has served as an expert witness in establishing the causes of timber failures in, for example, roofs, bridges, decks, boats, temporary stages, walkways, playground equipment, scaffold boards and tool handles.


As well as leading the Timber Consultancy team, Phil is responsible for their highly regarded series of standard and bespoke training courses. Phil sits on the BSI’s Wood Preservation Committee and the Wood Protection Association’s Technical Committee.


Book your space now


Wood Information Sheets

Wood Information Sheets (WIS) are 4-10 page long comprehensive introductions to timber topics, intended as an authoritative guide to good design for all practitioners. TRADA has over 70 sheets on a broad range of wood topics.


Resources for TRADA Members and Registered Users:

Introducing wood – This WIS give readers a general overview of timber as both a living, biological organism and as a construction material, and explains the terms used when describing timber and their properties.


Resources for TRADA Members and Academic Users:

Specifying British-grown timbers – This WIS summarises the characteristics and the current and potential uses of timber grown in Britain, and contains a detailed set of species data sheets of a number of Britain's timbers including Oak, ash and Douglas fir.


Specifying timber for healthy buildings – This WIS looks at the increasing evidence base that underpins the use of timber in construction, especially in interiors, where people will interact with materials either directly by visual or haptic senses, or indirectly through smell, air quality, humidity buffering and thermal comfort.


Resources for TRADA Members only:

Specifying timber exposed to weathering – This WIS explains the causes of weathering and its significance to timber performance.


Preservative treatment for timber - a guide to specification – This WIS guides the specifier through the process of deciding whether a preservative treatment is required, where a treatment is required, and choosing a treatment.


Specification and use of wood-based panels in exterior and high humidity situations – This WIS details the considerations which must be made when specifying wood-based panels for exterior use, in particular whether a preservative treatment or protective measure is required to extend service life.


Structural use of hardwoods – This WIS covers a number of topics relating to the structural use of hardwoods including factors that must be considered when specifying the species.


Books Online

The Books Online area lets you view the full texts – including drawings and tables – of selected TRADA publications online at no extra cost.


Resources for TRADA Members and Registered Users: 

Timber for marine and fresh water construction – This book covers a variety of different timber species and for which applications they are suitable.


Resources for TRADA Members and Academic Users: 

Off-site and industrialised timber construction: Delivering quality and efficiency – This book explains how timber can be used to meet the imperative for high-quality, sustainable and efficient buildings.


Cross-laminated timber: design and performance – This book covers the design and performance of CLT within construction.


Learning Resources

Learning Resources (LRs) are principally designed for lecturers and students of engineering, architecture and the built environment, but are an excellent starting point for all.


All our LRs are available to both TRADA Members and Academic Users (lecturers and students who have registered for free through Academic access).


Resources for TRADA Members and Academic Users:  

Module: Timber as a material – This module includes an introduction to timber, the tree, moisture content and durability, wood-based materials, and why it's important to use the correct names when specifying timber.


Module: Construction principles, specification and design – This module covers the principles of design with timber, designing for durability, designing for building performance, and timber cladding.