Using timber wall and roof elements on large buildings
28. September 2018

Building from pre-fabricated timber elements and using them in combination with other construction materials is common practice in all Nordic countries. Timber elements speed up the construction process and therefore reduce costs.

Timbeco, an Estonian company in the business of producing wooden houses is continuously developing their product portfolio. More and more complex and challenging projects have been accepted to be completed. Timbeco´s partners include main contractors and real-estate developers who appreciate their experience and know-how of engineering, producing and building wooden houses. Customers become more aware year after year and make research before they decide to go with timber elements. The main arguments that support choosing timber elements are high quality of the product and saving money as well as time.

Timber elements are used in combination with different structures

When engineering, the choice of structure of the house depends mainly on what type the house is: architecture, size of rooms, fire safety requirements, number of floors, and load bearing.   Of course other criteria also include safety of construction and price. It is reasonable to combine different materials and decision is made based on technical analysis. This is where long term experience of Timbeco engineers pays off. We are capable of creating and engineering optical and cost-effective timber element structures. Generally, the sooner the producer of timber elements is included into the engineering process the better the result will be.  

The most common use of timber elements are insulated facade elements in buildings made of concrete, concrete panels, steel frame. Load bearing structures are made of concrete in that case, also slabs and wall elements of wood. Such solutions are used in case of buildings with large lintels (production or administrative buildings) or buildings higher than 4 storeys where it is difficult to achieve the buildings´s general stability and fire safety with timber frame. Together it will make up an hybrid construction that requires a well considered choice of materials, approved BIM models and detailed engineering.

Strong benefits of using timber elements

A great benefit of pre-fab timber elements is definitely that production takes place in a factory in dry, controlled environment, safe from changing weather conditions. Benefit of timber elements compared to concrete wall elements is also a thinner structure (with the same thermal indicators) and smaller mass.  When building from timber elements a more detailed project plan, high quality and due to that less re-doing later are guaranteed. The time saving factor is also a benefit of factory produced elements, in case of both timber frame buildings and hybrid constructions. At the same time when soil and concrete works are taking place on jobsite, production is already going on in factory as well. Time pressure in case of schools and kindergartens is especially serious because school starts in fall and therefore building process has to be fast.

Timbeco projects with hybrid structures

If from timber frame Timbeco has erected numerous houses (apartment houses, dwelling houses, kindergartens, office buildings), then in case of bigger, more than 4-storey buildings it is also possible to use different non-wooden load bearing structures and then combine them successfully with wall elements using the forementioned hybrid structures. In case of walls and slabs CLT can be used thoroughly or partly, also metal or a combination with concrete.

In Timbeco´s portfolio there are many building projects that have required fast yet at the same time quality production and erection. For example, Timbeco has erected several hybrid CLT and timber-frame element kindergartens, schools and one nursing home for the elderly.

One of the biggest facade projects that Timbeco has, is in Stavanger, Norway where we installed wooden outside wall elements to 7-18 storey concrete structured apartment buildings.

The most large scale roof project (29 000 m²) was built last year in Pärnu, where Metsäwood´s new factory building´s roof was made up of more than 700 timber-frame roof elements, completed and finished in the factory.

All in all, Timbeco sees that when evaluating Estonian construction market, building from wooden elements is a growing trend and customer awareness has increased. Building from elements saves a considerable amount of time and several other costs on the jobsite, such as renting scaffolding or managing the construction project on site.


Author: Erki Muhu, Timbeco Woodhouse OÜ