|he Carson Mansion in Eureka, California, was the home of lumber baron|
William Carson. Built in 1886, it was constructed entirely of
California redwood—which would cost a pretty penny these days.
(Architects, Newsom & Newsom)
|I-joists are stronger and straighter then solid wood|
floor joists, but can still be installed using
regular wood framing methods.
• Engineered lumber, which includes glued-laminated members, composite I-joists, and reconstituted wood members made of shredded wood fibers bonded by special glues. Unlike solid lumber, which inevitably has natural flaws such as knots and splits, engineered lumber has a consistent composition and hence a higher strength. This consistency also minimizes warping, which in solid lumber is caused by the tree’s natural growth rings.
Disadvantages of engineered lumber include a higher cost than solid lumber, heavier weight in some cases, and slightly more complex installation methods. However, many framers agree that the straightness and consistency of these member generally outweigh such problems.
|Metal stud framing is also stronger and straighter|
than solid lumber framing, but working with it
takes some getting used to.
The drawbacks of steel framing have been its cost, which in past years was substantially higher than wood, as well as the need to re-train framers accustomed to working with wood. As steel framing becomes more prevalent, however, framers will become more comfortable working with it.
|Concrete block can do most anything that|
wood studs can do, and will last longer.
If you're used to building with wood,
however, it's a whole new universe
to work in.
Today, however, concrete block is available in a range of styles and colors, and many interesting designs are possible. It’s the ideal material for passive-solar homes requiring thermal mass for heat storage. And when properly reinforced, concrete block is also seismically sound.
With old-growth solid lumber fast disappearing and managed forests producing lumber of generally inferior quality, the price of solid lumber will only increase in the future. If you’re thinking of building a home, alternatives to solid lumber are worth looking into.