This specialized division focuses on the complex issues associated with exterior components and outdoor structures. Topics ranging from the selection of the appropriate wood species, the constructional and chemical protection of timber to the point of correct usage and maintenance of a suitable surface finish are addressed. Since wood structures in exterior applications are subject to weathering and high moisture levels, the interplay of the aforementioned factors has been optimized in order to achieve a long service life in these structures.
Different approaches to designing wood façades with respect to building physics play a central role in our research work. Wood façades can be implemented as ventilated (with or without air circulation) or not ventilated (with or without a closed-off air gap) façades. New research findings provide information on fundamental parameters of these possible approaches. Results can be studied in the leaflet “Design of wood façades considering building physics”.
If wood is used as a material in designing a façade its flammability has to be considered in particular with respect to flame spread on or within the façade construction. This applies in particular to multi-storey residential buildings. Comprehensive studies and fire tests showed which measures can be taken to resolve these issues, e.g. fire protection compartmentalization for each storey. The research findings were incorporated in Austrian national standards and were published in the leaflet “Design of wood façades considering fire protection”.
Aside from materials with an established history for designing façades such as solid wood (e.g. cladding from sawn and milled boards) or wood-based panels (e.g. 3-ply solid wood panel), new materials such as thermally treated wood, finger-jointed wood, OSB and WPC are also being investigated. Individual design guidelines are developed for each façade system. The resulting brochure “Wooden façades” is regarded as the authoritative source in this field.
The design of wooden balconies is particularly demanding since balconies are structural elements. Requirements regarding construction wood protection have to be met. Detailed planning of all design elements is necessary, e.g. moisture accumulation at connections has to be avoided since it can lead to decay. Exploring and evaluating the boundaries for improving the design of balconies has been a central issue for this division. The second edition of the resulting brochure “Balconies and wooden deck” is currently in print.
Wooden decks resting on load-bearing beams or on a wooden grid placed on the flat ground are becoming increasingly popular. Such structures are erected as private outdoor living areas, wooden piers, sun terraces in restaurants and hotels and even in public places. Aside from domestic and exotic wood species, new materials such as thermally treated wood or WPC are also considered. Correct material selection, constructional wood protection and proper design of wooden decks are essential for obtaining durable decks and contented users. In this field guidelines are defined and the limits of the material identified. Research results and construction details are covered in the brochure “Wooden balconies and decks”.
At present guidelines for the development of European Technical Approval for façade systems are being finalized. We support companies in preparing the required documentation and we perform the tests required. Furthermore, various weathering test procedures (Accelerated weathering or natural weathering) are carried out.
Expert’s reports are prepared mainly to evaluate damage resulting from design, construction, workmanship and utilization.
Common areas are: