From the floor up! New opportunities for fibre-managed plantation hardwood in construction

From the floor up! New opportunities for fibre-managed plantation hardwood in construction

Researchers from the University of Tasmania, with support from industry partners Forico and Britton Timbers, were inspired by the opportunities associated with the estimated 960,000 ha of hardwood plantations across the country, resulting from planting that was started more than 30 years ago.

Industry partners Britton Timbers and Forico were inspired by the opportunities associated with the estimated 960,000 ha of hardwood plantations across the country, resulting from planting that was started more than 30 years ago.

Over the years, the majority of these plantations have been managed and grown for pulpwood, with most estates left un-thinned and unpruned.

The industry-directed research sought to benefit estate owners by identifying ways to diversify their product options over and above the international export fibre market.

With that in mind, researchers from the University of Tasmania began to explore methods of converting this resource into viable solid wood products. This work led them to recognise the potential to convert the current fibre-grown Eucalypt plantations into timber boards to be used in flooring.

This study focused on the potential, development and structural performance of commodity-based, high-mass timber floor products, assembled from pulp-managed plantation Eucalyptus nitens and E. globulus.

Industrial standardised hardwood seasoning procedures were used for the conversion of harvested logs into timber boards. The boards were then nail- or glue-laminated together to form floor panels, before non-destructive methods were used to determine their qualities, including structural performance, strength and elasticity.

The overall structural performance of the timber was found to be markedly improved when it was used as laminated panels, rather than individual boards.

What’s more, the structural performance of the timber was further enhanced by the development of timber-concrete composite panels.

Additional benefits of timber boards include higher load carrying capacity, long spans, effective sound insulation and high fire resistance.

“The results of this study demonstrate the output from current Eucalypt plantations targeted at pulpwood production can be used to create laminated floor panels, providing additional options for the building sector, particularly for use in the upper floors of residential housing and small- to medium-scale commercial projects,” the project report explains.

Future work will focus on determining the most effective grading factors that will maximise strength and elasticity, as well as long-term assessment of the gluing approaches.

 

Note: The original publication of this article required a correction to the listed industry partners to include Forico.

 

Read the full report on the FWPA website.