Well-being with wood

Published 2 February 2015 by Stora Enso
​​​​​Wood as a construction material has numerous advantages. For example, its light weight enables prefabrication and thus a short erection time and dry assembly. Studies also indicate that living in a wooden apartment has numerous benefits for the residents’ health and well-being.​

Well-making wood

According to feedback, wooden houses have happy inhabitants. While there are still many details that need more research, studies conducted so far indicate that wooden materials create pleasant living surroundings in terms of humidity and acoustics, as well as contribute to reduced stress levels, among other benefits.
Studies indicate that, for example, turpentine can have a positive effect on immunology.

Wood can absorb humidity based on the surrounding conditions and temperature. This improves the indoor climate of wooden houses especially if the interiors are also decorated with wood. Studies of different wood species indicate that pine, being a soft wood, has the best capabilities in absorption and release of moisture.

Pine has other interesting characteristics in terms of construction and living. The oils and compounds in pine have anti-bacterial features that diminish the creation of toxic compounds otherwise released by bacteria and mould into the air.

Tall oils and other volatile organic compounds in pine may also have benefits. Studies indicate that, for example, turpentine can have a positive effect on immunology.

Stress reduction

School children in timber buildings experience less stress, have fewer conflicts and concentrate better. These are findings from a Human Research Institute study where two classes, one located in a wooden classroom and the other in different surroundings, were compared.

Wooden interiors create a pleasant acoustic environment. The sounds can be described as “softer” than the ones in interiors designed with other materials. Wooden interiors also seem to have a calming effect on blood pressure and pulse. Additionally, a study conducted in elderly homes indicates that wooden interiors have a positive effect on the social life of the elderly.

The usage of wood in construction has been rising in many markets recently. As a renewable and sustainable material, it brings interesting opportunities for the construction industry. The characteristics of wood can make buildings special for their inhabitants as well.

The article is based on a literature review conducted by Riina Muilu-Mäkelä, Maarit Haavisto and Jori Uusitalo, researchers at the Natural Resources Institute Finland. The original report (in Finnish) can be found at: http://www.metla.fi/julkaisut/workingpapers/2014/mwp320.pdf

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