Personal Finance

Woodside story

Meera Siva | Updated on March 10, 2018 Published on September 25, 2016

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You can transform an ordinary room into a lavish one by fixing wooden panels to the false ceilings

Brick and mortar may be the heart of any building, but it is materials such as wood that land you in the lap of luxury. From doors, windows, furniture, panes indoor to outdoor decks and gazebos, wood adds a touch of class to any space.

From ancient times, for cultures globally — be it the Pagodas of Japan, carved doors in churches of Europe or ornate pillars — wood has been a key element to meet the functional needs as well as enhance the appearance.

Natural wood’s importance has not diminished with the advent of new-age material. Interestingly, there is a trend of higher wood usage in high-end homes, say experts.

Drab to fab

One reason for wood’s appeal is that you can transform an ordinary room into a lavish one by just adding frame mouldings to the walls of entryways, stairways or dining areas. Wooden panels attached to the false ceilings with light fixtures also provide a touch of class.

In high-end luxury homes, wood is used mainly in pergolas, gazebos, internal panelling and exterior cladding and decks as well as doors, furniture — both indoor and outdoor — says Pranesh Chhibber, Country Director, Forestry Innovation Consulting.

Brazilian Ipe is a good option to consider for outdoor decks, says Kamal Sagar, CEO of Total Environment, who is also an architect. He notes that a lot of wood is being used for media rooms and music rooms due to its good acoustic property.

Besides hardwood such as teak, different types of softwood such as cedar, pine, and fir are also used for their uniform texture and lightness, says Manish Jain, COO, House of Hiranandani.

Wood is good

With wood, you can easily alter the look and feel by changing the finish. The workability of the material — shaping and carving — makes it easy to produce creative designs. “Interesting grain structure and wood with character also provide the sense of an antique aesthetic even with a modern design,” says Sagar.

Wood is a natural insulator; this makes it a green choice as wooden floors and panels can help reduce overall energy consumption.

New engineered wood products such as cross laminated timber (CLT), parallel strand lumber (PSL), glued laminated timber (glulam) and prefabricated panelling systems offer good load strength and are lighter compared to concrete or masonry. So dramatic vaulted ceilings, long span bridges, and buildings that rise six-storeys made of wood are a reality now. The case in point is the Richmond Olympic Oval in British Columbia with an all wood roof covering 2.4 hectares.

There may be many health benefits as well. Marion LaRue of Cannon Design Architecture, who was the senior project manager of the Olympic Oval design team, noted that natural materials like wood create spaces that influence the psychology of people. A study conducted in British Columbia found that the occupants in a healthcare facility made of wood saw lowered sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activation. This reduced stress, aiding speedy recovery. Wood products and finishes can also contribute to the control of air-borne contaminants as they are easy to maintain and emit fewer harmful vapours.

Brown and green

But doesn’t using wood mean cutting trees? De-forestation is often a concern , but thanks to government and self-regulation, the industry is not losing the forest for a tree.

Take the case of British Columbia in Canada — among the largest timber producers in the world. About 55 million hectares of its total area of 95 million hectares is forest land. Only 1 per cent of its forests — about 200,000 hectares — are harvested annually. And by law, they are reforested promptly. As a result, only 3 per cent of the forest land has been converted from forest to other land usage in the last nearly 200 years.

There are also third-party forest certifications.Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international non-government organisation that accredits national initiatives to develop regionally appropriate standards. As of January 2016, 186 million hectares (460 million acres) in 81 countries were managed according to standards endorsed by FSC.

Tall prices

Wood’s appeal does not seem to be diminished by its hefty price tag. Factors such as origin and age of the wood, form of cultivation (naturally grown or farm-cultivated), climatic conditions affect the demand and prices of wood.

Burma teak can go for ₹6,500 per cft while regular teak wood may be available for ₹3,500-4,500 per cft. But given it is a renewable material and there is technology to harvest and transport it, why is timber still so expensive? One reason for high costs is the quality of timber. The Indian government has banned wood harvesting, supply is thus low and the market is forced to depend on import.

Also, if you are looking for larger sized planks, availability may be limited as the tree must be above a certain age to have sufficient girth. For instance, some species such as yellow cedar take 200 years to reach a marketable size. Likewise, old-growth teak wood is generally synonymous to superior quality and costs higher than plantation teak wood.

Prices also vary depending on the region. For instance, Burma teakwood will be expensive compared to Dandeli teak, while the cost of Nagpur teak will vary from Malabar teak, says Jain. The rates depend on the dollar price, as most of the wood is imported. Various groups such as the Khandla Timber Association import timber from across the globe. Custom wood products are created in factories or hand crafted.

Timber must also be treated to keep insects away and moisture removed to decrease shrinkage.

Sagar of Total Environment says that wood used in outdoor setting must be oiled regularly to prevent rot and breaking into splinters. Albeit a small cost — one could say — for getting that feel of luxury.

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Published on September 25, 2016
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