Building in wood around the world
Outside Northern Europe, wood-built housing occurs primarily in the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia and parts of South-East Asia. Timber-frame structures are common, particularly in North America, where they are primarily built on-site. Several variations on this technique have been developed in Sweden and the other Nordic countries, both for on-site construction and modular systems.
Modern Swedish timber-frame houses can be seen as an evolution of the old systems using vertical posts or horizontal boards. In the early days, all wooden buildings were constructed on-site, but now much is prefabricated off-site to create modular kits. Today’s prefabricated modular buildings offer an incredible array of opportunities. They feature flexible systems that can be combined to meet whatever wishes the client might have.
Construction systems using solid wood structures have also been developed in recent years. The solid wood is used mainly in the floor structure, but also in the frames of outer walls.
Systems other than timber-frame construction also remain in use to this day. In Japan, a large number of traditional wooden houses are still being built with post and beam frames.
Log walls can also still be found, although mainly in smaller buildings. Finland is one of the countries where larger houses are built with dovetailed log walls.
Historically speaking, vertical cladding appeared as a means of lining horizontal log walls, initially to protect the sensitive joints, but later also to protect the whole façade. Vertical cladding could be nailed directly onto the horizontal logs.
In countries such as the USA, where the log building tradition has either been modest or non-existent, external wood cladding is more usually applied horizontally. This is easier and more natural on a frame of vertical studs or posts. Horizontal cladding is dominant outside Sweden in areas with very damp climates and large amounts of driving rain, such as the west coast of Norway and western Canada.