Hardwood constructions can last for centuries, with wooden conservatories and wooden orangeries becoming more popular in this elegant style.
What is hardwood?
Hardwood is taken from deciduous trees, ranging from English oak to Western African sapeles. In fact, it has nothing to do with the density of timber.
Variety of hardwood conservatory woods.
By choosing a wooden conservatory, there is a surprising amount of choice on offer. Most popular by far is the English oak, which you’ll see commonly on homes and churches.
But other woods are just as useable, including mahogany and teak. Some of the less known names such as sapeles, idigbo and iroko are also very good for conservatory construction.
Wood is a sustainable source, with many of the above mentioned types coming from Africa. However, it’s always worth asking the installer if the wood is in danger. Meranti in particular has been overharvested and at significant risk.
Always make sure you double check if the wood you choose is suitable for the outdoors. Just because it’s a hardwood doesn’t mean it has good longevity properties.
Beech is an example of a wood not suitable for conservatories. So always do your homework to ensure your conservatory will live up to your dreams.
Also, the wood used for a conservatory should be properly seasoned or it could warp. Depending on the timber, it should be kiln dried or left to weather naturally.
Hardwood conservatory colours
Some woods mellow naturally and don’t need to be stained or painted. Teak and oak gain a silvery appearance through weathering.
Hardwoods can also be stained to look like the deep rich colour of mahogany or lighter oak. But this isn’t to the taste of everyone, and there are specialist paints available in shades of brown, green, cream and white.
Hardwood conservatory maintenance
Keeping a wooden conservatory in optimal condition is well worth doing, but they’re not something that needs constant maintenance. After all, it’s the conservatory’s finish that’ll decide what needs to be done in the future.
While teak and oak can be left untreated because of their rich natural oils, other woods need protecting from the elements.
But the right substance needs to be used to preserve the wood. In the past, modern paint has destroyed wooden constructions and it has sealed in moisture, causing rot.
While linseed oil has gone out of fashion, it can still be used as a base. Micro-porous stain allows the wood to breathe and will preserve your conservatory for many years.
How often this needs to be reapplied depends entirely on where you live and where the conservatory is sited. Generally it’d be every three to five years to conserve your beautiful conservatory.
If there’s powder coated aluminium on the roof, this will need maintenance every 10 years.
Hardwood conservatory glazing
With conservatories leading onto gardens you should definitely have a special form of glass installed, especially if there are likely to be young children playing outside.
Installing toughened glass will protect you and anyone else who could trip and fall against the conservatory. Toughened glass is less likely to break and even if it does, it crumbles into tiny balls rather than large, dangerous shards. This minimises the chance of injury and also prevents the glass from breaking if struck by an object, such as a football.
Another option is to install laminated glass. Although this is slightly more expensive, it offers more protection. Laminated glass is two sets of panes with a plastic coating in between. This means the glass won’t shatter under impact.
It’s not just the type of glass that you’ll need to consider but also the way it’s fitted – internally or externally. If it’s fitted internally, you’ll have better security as the beadings can’t be removed from the outside by an intruder. However, external beading is quite secure too, so long as gaskets and double sided tape are in place to keep the pane locked in.
It’s also advised to check that the gaskets are made of a material that can expand and contract to compensate for temperature changes.
Also ensure that the roof of your conservatory is weather-proofed with powder coated aluminium capping.
Hardwood conservatories in conservation areas
Homes and buildings in conservation areas and World Heritage Sites are often limited to what can be installed or changed to the existing property.
For instance, it’s rare that double glazing or solar panels would be granted permission as they change the appearance of the property and wouldn’t keep the traditional feel of the area.
And conservatories also struggle to bypass these stringent rules. Planning officials are not keen on uPVC or aluminium conservatories.
However, wooden conservatories give the home a different appearance and you shouldn’t have too much trouble seeking planning permission. But as always, it’s best to check with the local council planning officer, to see what is and isn’t allowed in your area.
But any planning applications that have to be made should be carried out by your supplier, if they’re providing a great service.
Are hardwood conservatories environmentally friendly?
Wood has been used in construction for centuries and has one distinct advantage over products such as uPVC and aluminium. It can grow and replace itself.
Surprisingly there is more forestry in Europe than there was 100 years ago. This is simply because European woodlands are much better managed in today’s world.
Older, mature trees are typically used for construction, meaning younger trees planted will produce more oxygen and help reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
This gives wood a clear environmental advantage in the construction industry, and makes wooden conservatories a popular choice.
What’s more, products such as uPVC and aluminium that can be used for conservatories require a lot of energy to produce.
So by choosing to have a hardwood conservatory installed, you’ll probably find you’re being more environmentally friendly.