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American tulipwood for exterior applications

02 April 2009

American tulipwood for exterior applications

An innovative new research project, the first step in a sustainable hardwood solutions strategy, took centre stage on the American Hardwood Export Council’s Stand at Ecobuild. Early results of research into commercial treatments for American tulipwood which is designed to extend this adaptable species to a range of exterior applications, such as cladding, was presented on the Stand.
The research was undertaken in partnership with treatment specialists Osmose, and Timbmet, one of the largest timber product suppliers in the UK. In a series of tests, American tulipwood has been treated with Osmose Stabilising Oil at various strengths and exposed to weathering to assess its exterior performance potential. Samples of treated and untreated tulipwood on the Stand showed the inherent qualities of this prolific American hardwood and how treatment can enhance these qualities to produce a stable, good looking, cost-effective and sustainable timber solution for exterior use.
With BRE structural testing showing that tulipwood has tensile strength characteristics comparable with oak and a remarkable strength to weight ratio, the research is a logical step to take this species into new markets. Said David Venables, AHEC’s European Director: “While it is still relatively early days for this research, Ecobuild provides a wonderful opportunity to showcase our forward thinking and, crucially, to get the expert feedback from architects and designers which can inform our ongoing research. All the key requirements for specifying timber exposed to weathering are, of course, being taking into account, but we see face to face discussions with our potential customers as vital for our project development programme.” Representatives from Osmose and Timbmet joined the AHEC team on the Stand to talk about the research and the outstanding qualities of treated tulipwood.
It was a groundbreaking project for the 2008 London Design Festival which inspired this work. ‘Sclera’, the stunning outdoor pavilion designed by David Adjaye for the London Design Festival, saw treated tulipwood used for a major exterior project for the first time. Its attractive grain and colour combined with its strength made it Adjaye’s first choice. A model of the pavilion was on show, together with visuals of this and other high profile American hardwood projects around the world.
The underlying theme of AHEC’s Ecobuild story is sustainability – highlighting a commitment to developing sustainable hardwood solutions against the backdrop of the findings of its independent study on legality and sustainability. Published last year, this confirmed that US hardwoods are low risk for FSC controlled wood, with the American industry setting the standard for ‘due diligence’ and risk assessment.