What do timber structural engineers do?

What do timber structural engineers do?

What do timber structural engineers do?

Timber has been used to create building structures throughout history. The material’s natural availability, high strength to weight ratio and design flexibility makes it a favourite for those in the field to work with.

Today, it’s used for traditional builds and as a complement to modern construction. From charming houses and temples, to contemporary high rises, timber complements a range of structures across the world.

Timber structural engineering

Working with timber requires a specialist knowledge of the natural material’s properties, especially as it is an anisotropic material, meaning it has different levels of strength in different directions. Design consideration must also be given to how the material will move or creep as the it ages, under different environmental conditions. Special attention must be given to the design of timber connections, as incorrect detailing can cause splitting and failure of the timber.

A timber structural engineer will select the appropriate type of timber for a project, based on factors such as strength, durability, availability, cost, and sustainability. This decision-making process ensures that the chosen material aligns with the vision of the client and considers environmental factors.

As with any structural engineer, they will collaborate with architects, builders, contractors, and other professionals on-site to ensure an effective construction process. Clear communication and effective project management are essential requirements of the role.

Structural analysis

Before construction is ready to start, structural analysis is carried out using advanced software and calculations. This step looks at how the components of a structure, such as beams, columns, trusses, and connections, respond to different forces, loads, and external influences.

Timber structural engineers ensure that any stresses on the timber components remain within safe limits. They follow relevant building codes, regulations, and standards which provide guidelines that consider factors like fire resistance, moisture content, and durability.

Benefits of using timber in a project

As mentioned earlier in this article, timber has a high strength-to-weight ratio and offers many design options. There are even more benefits to using timber though, such as:

  • Sustainability: If harvested responsibly from a well-managed forest, timber can be one of the most sustainable materials to use as there is little to no damage to the environment.
  • Good thermal properties: As well as being sustainable, timber is also incredibly energy efficient. It has low thermal conductivity meaning it keeps heat in and provides a good amount of insulation.
  • Lightweight: The properties of some types of timber make it an incredibly lightweight material to work with. This is useful when it comes to construction as it makes for a quicker process.
  • Ability to withstand the effects of a corrosive environment: Timber is more stable in moist or humid environments such as swimming pools and leisure facilities, where steel may be prone to rusting.

Do you need the services of a timber structural engineer?

If you are planning a building with structural timber elements, you will need to engage the services of a suitably qualified structural engineer who has experience working with timber. They will work with your architect to ensure the timbers specified are suitable for the demands being placed upon them.

To find out more about how AWA can help with your timber project, call 01794 524447 to speak to a member of our team. Alternatively, email


Why choose AWA Engineers

AWA is a structural engineering and civil engineering consultancy established in 1987, with a hard-won but deserved reputation for delivering excellence in our profession.

Our philosophy is simple: we put people first. This has resulted in a high number of repeat clients and an impressive track record of successful award-winning projects. We are proud to be professional, and approachable; we believe this makes us the ideal partner for your project.

AWA has chartered engineers in our offices located in Romsey, Hampshire and Bath, Somerset. We deliver services to clients across the South, South East and South West.

Our team includes both chartered structural engineers and chartered civil engineers committed to continuous professional development ensuring you benefit from up to date industry expertise, whatever your project entails.

Contact us today

To find out more about how AWA can help with your project, get in touch today. Call 01794 524447 to speak to a member of our team. Alternatively, email and one of the team will be in touch.

Email us Call us