May 11 2022, by Fleetwood Urban

Why Wood Works Webinar

More than 150 people registered for Fleetwood’s latest live round table event – ‘WHY WOOD WORKS: Unlocking the natural potential of long-lasting timber structures.’

To discuss the benefits, challenges and opportunities of using of hardwood timber, we were joined via Zoom by two of 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 Senior Design Technician at Fleetwood, Mark Jol.

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.


Some of the key themes covered by the panel included:


• The global resurgence of timber as a building material of choice
• Climatic hazards vary significantly in different parts of Australia – and this has a huge impact on the life expectancy and performance of different timber species
• Fit-for-purpose species selection and correct durability gradings
• Using the design process to maximise performance and durability of a timber structure
• Why weathering is not the same thing as structural degradation
• ‘Perfect imperfection’ – designing with timber as a variable, naturally-ageing material (concept of wabi-sabi)
• Managing moisture content – seasoned or unseasoned timber?
• Using the correct coatings to extend durability – what works and what doesn’t?
• Timber availability and the need to plan ahead
• Potential implications of installing non-native timber species in Australian conditions
• Increasing incidence of ‘Australian’ hardwood species being grown overseas
• ‘Responsibly-sourced’ – what does this actually mean? How can you be sure?
• Timber wastage and recycling – what’s being done? Can more be done?


“If you look at all the studies, people feel better around timber. They relax, their blood pressure is lower and they’re just happier. The other part of (timber’s resurgence), are the growing concerns about materials like concrete that are far more energy intensive. Timber is a carbon neutral, environmentally sound material – and we’re seeing renewed interest because architects and engineers are increasingly coming to see, and value, that.”  Professor Jeffrey Morrell, Director, National Centre for Timber Durability & Design Life

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

“Many people tend to think about timber from a ‘flat earth’ perspective, where it’s the same all over the country. But the climatic hazards vary significantly from the top of the Australia right down to Tasmania – and, obviously, the life expectancy and performance of the timber varies according to those hazards.”  Colin MacKenzie, MacKenzie Consulting

Additional Resources

Read more with the Why Wood Works eBook

“Beautiful. Tactile. Sustainable. Hardwood timber can bring so many wonderful benefits to an outdoor project. But to deliver long-lasting performance, it must be properly designed, specified and finished. If you’re going to ‘do’ timber, you need to do it right – that was my greatest take-out from the session.”   Roger Joyce, Director, Fleetwood Urban

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