Why do we care how strong our household accessories are? In this day and age, everyone is conscious of choosing the right materials over the wrong ones. When you choose wood products over plastic or metals you are choosing to take individual small steps towards living environmentally friendly.
But did you know that the strength of those wood products is an additional asset?
On top of the fact that it looks better than plastic, one of the primary elements that sets wood apart from other materials is its strength. This is one reason wood is used frequently as a structural base in homes, cabins, and commercial buildings. It’s also why wood tables, chairs, benches, and other furniture last significantly longer than furniture made out of different types of materials.
Below are some interesting facts about the strength properties of wood and why they matter when it comes to improving your home’s aesthetic and functionality.
Properties of Wood
Physically, wood is strong and stiff but, compared to a material like steel, it's also light and flexible. It has another interesting property too. Metals, plastics, and ceramics tend to have a fairly uniform inner structure and that makes them isotropic: they behave exactly the same way in all directions.
Wood is different due to its annual-ring-and-grain structure. You can usually bend and snap a small, dead, tree branch with your bare hands, but you'll find it almost impossible to stretch or compress the same branch if you try pulling or pushing it in the opposite direction.
Wood is a natural polymer — parallel strands of cellulose fibers held together by a lignin binder.
These long chains of fibers make the wood exceptionally strong — they resist stress and spread the load over the length of the board. Furthermore, cellulose is tougher than lignin.The mechanical properties of wood are essential to understand when we’re discussing why it’s so strong compared to other materials.
Factors that can influence the strength of a given piece of wood include: specific gravity, moisture content, knots, and slope of grain. In particular, let’s take a look at the properties of viscoelasticity, compression, and moisture content.
Wood is an orthotropic material, which means that its properties change when they’re measured in three directions: tangential, radial, and longitudinal. As such, it has viscoelasticity, which means it has both elastic and plastic characteristics when it’s exposed to certain types of deformation.
Elastic materials easily stretch under an applied load. However, they return to their original conditions once the load is released. In contrast, plastic materials stay at the stretched condition even if the load is released after a long period time. The behavior of wood products is between the above two types of conditions.
The density, strength and surface hardness of wood can be increased by compressing it. Compression strength (also called bending strength) refers to a beam of wood’s maximum crushing strength when you add weight to the ends of the wood.
Construction projects require a clear understanding of the compression strength of wood beams to prevent serious deformation. This number is less important for household items and furniture that will not be exposed to large weight-bearing loads.
Wood’s strength properties increase as its moisture content decreases. This is why wood is usually dried until it reaches 15 – 20 percent moisture when it’s being used for building structures. In addition to ensuring that the wood is strong, this makes it more efficient.
Evidently increasing the water content of wood by soaking it lowers the stiffness and strength of the wood. Remember that wooden spoon that was forgotten in the kettle of water?
How the Strength of Wood Makes it a Great Material to Have in Your Home
Wood’s strength isn’t only important for buildings. It also makes wood a great material to use when decorating the interior of your home.
Wooden home decor, accessories, fixtures, and furniture look beautiful and add warmth to any home. They also last a long time, thanks to the properties of wood that make it stronger than other materials. Adding wooden pieces to your home means you will be able to enjoy their beauty and strength for years to come.
Start shopping for the next addition to your home by perusing our collection of wooden furniture and accessories!