Your Guide to British Made Timber Products
The British timber trade has a long history. In the Middle Ages, Britain had large domestic timber supplies, with the most common and famous British timber being oak. Later, however, as domestic supply became unable to meet local demand the British imported timber from the Baltic, and later North America.
Being an island, Great Britain has always been a major consumer of wood, and increasing shipbuilding demands in the run-up to the Industrial Revolution meant that domestic wood became incredibly expensive. Even when iron replaced wood as a major component in shipbuilding, there were other industries that were huge consumers of wood, so it was difficult to find affordable timber for use in flooring, furniture, house-building, doors and other non-industrial products. Importing timber was a popular option, but the quality of the wood that was imported was not always up-to scratch compared to British grown oaks and hardwoods.
Even today, British made timber products are regarded as some of the highest quality.
The UK Timber Industry
The British Timber industry is still an important part of the UK economy, to the extent that there is a major expo held in the UK, called the Timber Expo. This event is an important part of the UK construction industry’s calendar, and it tends to take place alongside the London Design Festival.
The Timber Expo promotes the latest and most innovative ideas in the world of British Timber. This year’s expo is due to take place on October 7th and 8th, and will focus on sustainable timber, the construction industry and innovation. In 2013, the World scape was a core feature of the expo. The Expandable Surface System – a display made using a morphogenetic process from the bottom up, out of birch plywood sheets, was one of the most eye-catching displays, and there were other amazing plywood sculptures showing off how flexible versatile and strong timber can be.
The best place to buy timber from is a specialist such as British Hardwoods or UK Oak Doors. These companies specialize in making domestic products such as doors, molding’s and flooring out of British timber, and have many years of experience in producing high quality products.
Caring for Timber
British made timber products are in high demand because they are so high quality and durable. It is important that you take care of your purchase. Timber products are great long-term investments and if you look after them properly then they will give you many years of enjoyment.
When you purchase British made timber products it is likely that the installer or builder will give you some basic care instructions. You should, of course, follow their instructions to the letter. However, these rules of thumb will help you to look after your wooden product if the installer does not provide you with detailed instructions:
Firstly, if you paint or varnish a timber floor, wait at least 48 hours before placing furniture. This will give the varnish time to dry and set completely so that you do not end up with unsightly marks or dents.
Fit protective pads to the bottom of the furniture to reduce the chances of the floor being marked. If you are using furniture with castors, choose barrel castors over ball castors when a choice is available. Use protective matting to prevent damage.
Wait at least two weeks before laying rugs onto a coated floor, and clean the floor thoroughly before putting the rug down. If you fail to do this, then the dirt trapped under the rug could end up scratching, scuffing or otherwise damaging the floor.
It is perfectly normal for timber to change color over time. Some woods get darker, while others tend to fade. Timber that is exposed to sunlight (such as external doors or moldings, or window frames) will fade or darken more quickly than timber that is kept indoors out of direct sunlight. There is little that you can do to prevent this except to use an appropriate wood stain that is designed to protect the timber from the elements.
If the finish of the wood becomes scuffed, scratched or dented then it can be re-finished, filled in with wood filler and repaired. The best way to clean hardwood timber products is to vacuum clean them with a soft bristle head or using an electrostatic attachment to remove the worst dust and grit. Stubborn dirt can be removed using a damp mop and a pH neutral cleaner. Do not use polish, household detergent, wax or steel wood pads on timber products because these can damage the finish and may even damage the underlying wood. In addition, use lint-free mops and make sure that you wash them before the first wash.
If you accidentally spill something on wooden furniture, wipe it up using a dry, absorbent paper towel. If you spill something sticky, moisten the cloth slightly to make it easier to pick up all of the spill.
Timber products that are designed to be used outdoors require special care. To keep hardwood timber furniture and decking looking as good as possible, clean it regularly and take some time to refinish it at least once a year. Some manufacturers may recommend that decking be refinished more than once a year. It is important that furniture be cleaned and wiped down regularly, because it is easy for mold, moss and algae to build up on wood if it is allowed to sit damp for a prolonged period of time.
If you are thinking of buying British made timber products, look for a reputable supplier that uses FSC certified wood. This will help you to ensure that you are buying only sustainable British timber. Remember that timber bought from suppliers that use only sustainable grown wood is actually good for the environment compared to purchasing UPVC or other materials. The carbon impact of sustainable furniture is quite low, so you are doing your bit for the environment if you buy it and take care of it.