Wood is a very unique material. It is the only common living material used in construction of residential and non-residential structures. Its properties are defined by its basic structure combined with natural strength reducing characteristics. To a certain degree, it could be called a natural composite material and, as most composite materials, it behaves differently in different directions or its properties are anisotropic. In addition, because it has a structure of a living material it adjusts its moisture content to its surroundings by absorbing and adsorbing water, or exhibiting hygroscopic properties. This is very different from other common construction materials and designers need to be fully aware of these other important characteristics of wood when making design decisions.
WEI101 – provides short summary of characteristics and structure of wood.