One of the questions we’re often asked is: “What is the best wood to use for my windows and doors?” With a range of timber to choose from, it’s often not easy to work out which wood is best, or right, for a situation, so here’s a guide to help you.
Points to consider
- Is the window or door in a sheltered position or open to the elements – sun, rain, wind? South and west facing elevations tend to be the most exposed to the weather in the UK.
- How much will the wood shrink or expand? Bear in mind that wood is a living, breathing material and, as such, will have a certain degree of moisture movement, depending on the conditions.
- Is the timber’s durability and strength right for your needs?
- Check how resistant the wood is to decay, rot and insects.
- What sort of finish are you looking for – stain, oil, paint?
- Consider your budget range.
- Do note that with the proper care and attention, the right high quality wood for your needs can last a lifetime.
Hardwood or softwood?
Always bear in mind that hardwood doesn’t necessarily mean a timber is hard and more durable than a softwood. The terms refer to the density and physical structure of the wood. Both hardwood and softwood timber is used for windows and doors, depending on the conditions. Make sure your manufacturer uses the best high quality wood, from FSC accredited suppliers.
Common types of wood used for windows and doors
Accoya is a modified, treated wood that has been thoroughly tested for stability, durability and paint retention. It is sustainably sourced and Accoya’s website states the wood is guaranteed for 50 years when used above ground. It has minimal moisture movement. Durability: Very durable (25+ years) Cost: £££
Douglas Fir is a softwood. It is used for its strength, hardness and durability. It is easy to stain but difficult to paint. Durability: Moderately durable (10-15 years) Cost: £
European Oak is a hardwood. It looks beautiful, works well and is extremely resistant. It doesn’t need a preservative and has moderate moisture movement. Durability: Durable (15–25 years) Cost: £££
European Redwood is a softwood, also known as Scot’s Pine or Scandinavian Red. It is a stable, good quality, moderately hard timber with a slight resistance to shrinking, decay and insects. Durability: Slightly durable (5-10 years) Cost: £
Idigbo is a hardwood. It is good value and a stable timber. Both stain & paint finishes work well on this wood. There is small moisture movement. Durability: Moderately durable (10-15 years) Cost: ££
Iroko is a hardwood. It is a teak substitute, hard and very durable. It has small moisture movement and is best with a stain not a paint. Durability: Durable (15–25 years) Cost: ££
Sapele is a hardwood. It has the look of mahogany and is a dense and hard timber. It is good for windows and doors and often has a paint finish due to its fine grain. Moisture movement is medium and it has a slight resistance to insects. Durability: Moderately durable (10-15 years) Cost: ££
Durability information is taken from the European classification system (EN350-1)
|Class 5||Not durable||< 1 year|
|Class 4||Slightly durable||5-10 years|
|Class 3||Moderately durable||10-15 years|
|Class 2||Durable||15-25 years|
|Class 1||Very durable||>25 years|