May 25 2022, by Fleetwood Urban

Optimising Timber Structures

Timber maintenance is a topic that always generates plenty of debate. Our latest round table Zoom event – ‘OPTIMISING TIMBER STRUCTURES: Maximising design life & minimising maintenance’ – saw industry professionals from across Australia join the conversation.

To explore some of the key issues, techniques and considerations surrounding the maintenance of hardwood timber structures, the discussion was led by an expert panel with over 125 years of collective experience working with timber.

Guest Speakers

Australia’s most knowledgeable figures in the area of timber durability and design life: Professor Jeffrey Morrell, Director at the National Centre for Timber Durability & Design Life, and Colin MacKenzie from MacKenzie Consulting. Also part of our expert panel was Jamie Franklin, Principal – Urban Design for Sunshine Coast Council and Senior Design Technician at Fleetwood, Mark Jol.

“Design has such an influence on maintenance – the hardest thing to do is to look at a timber structure that hasn’t been designed or detailed properly and then try to keep it lasting longer.” Professor Jeffrey Morrell, Director, National Centre for Timber Durability & Design Life


Some of the key themes covered by the panel included:

Calling upon their extensive experience in the design, delivery and maintenance of timber structures, the panel covered some intriguing topics over the course of the 60-minute session. The result was an information-packed discussion.

• Matching maintenance schedules to suit your region, timber species and application
• Maintaining appearance versus maintaining structural integrity
• The critical importance of upfront design in reducing ongoing maintenance
• Treating timber structures as a ‘whole of life’ asset
• Building maintenance into the broader contract price
• Balancing a structure’s creative and community value with the physical/financial requirements of maintaining it
• Collaborating with the asset owners and maintenance teams
• Can hybrid solutions help to reduce maintenance? (e.g. timber vertical elements with stainless steel/aluminium substructures and FRP decking)
• Effective coatings and preservative treatments for hardwood timber
• Using early intervention to avoid larger maintenance problems
• Performance and maintenance of recycled/composite timber products
• Best-practice approaches for treating in-ground timber

Missed out on the live session - watch the replay here.

“One aspect of maintenance is the appearance of the timber. Do you want it keep looking as close to the original condition as possible? Or let it age gracefully? The second aspect is trying to maintain the timber so it keeps its structural integrity for as long as possible – most times, that’s far more important.” Colin MacKenzie, MacKenzie Consulting

The Sunshine Coast community is very connected to nature and timber helps with creating that softer, natural environment. We work closely with our asset and maintenance owners to try different approaches and products. It’s a journey, but when you have a shared desire to work with timber, then you will find a solution together. Jamie Franklin, Principal – Urban Planning, Sunshine Coast Council

Additional Resources

Read more with the Why Wood Works eBook

Read Next

Why Wood Works Webinar

This industry round table explores the benefits, applications and implications of using hardwood timber for outdoor structures in Australian communities.

Read More
Bridge and Boardwalk Standards

Round table debate explores the applications, implications – and confusion – surrounding bridge and boardwalks standards in Australia.

Read More
60 magic minutes - Custom vs Catalogue round table generates lively debate.

Held over zoom, it was evident that Custom Play is certainly a subject close to hearts of many in the industry – just as it continues to be for us!

Read More