Structural use of hardwoods

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Although the vast majority of structural timber in the UK is softwood, there is a significant interest in hardwoods from both temperate and tropical regions for structural applications. When using hardwoods in structures, the specifier may need to take more interest in the species, its origin and its moisture condition than would be the case in the routine specification of softwoods.


The term hardwood designates wood from angiosperm trees, which are flowering broad-leaved trees with enclosed seeds called fruit. Hardwood trees have a natural distribution that extends throughout the tropical and subtropical regions to the outer edges of the northern and southern temperate zones, although the range of species varies tremendously between continents and regions.


This Wood Information Sheet (WIS) covers a number of topics relating to the structural use of hardwoods including the strength properties of some of the most common hardwood species, the drying and storing process and some of the more service condition and durability factors which must be considered when specifying the species.



  • Hardwood
  • Applications
  • Wood drying and storing
  • Specifying hardwoods
  • Structural design with hardwoods
  • Determining structural design values


This Wood Information Sheet was revised in March 2020. Minor amendments have been made to remove references to the long-withdrawn BS 5268. The References section has also been updated.


For queries about this technical document, please get in touch with its authors via BM TRADA’s Technical Helpline on +44 (0)1494 569601 or email


A paper/digital copy of this Wood Information Sheet is available in the BM TRADA Bookshop, which also hosts additional specialist timber publications.

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