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12 October, 2008
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Strength in depth
Autumn 2007
Published:  07 December, 2007

Engineered vertical louvres installed at King’s College in London

Timbmet has developed a range of engineered components for joinery. David Pittman reports

Engineered wood products (EWP), such as glulam and I-joists, have done their part to widen the use of timber in construction, now Timbmet Engineered Components (TEC) are set to bring the innovation of EWP into the home, through engineered timber windows, doors and stairs.

Timbmet says that TEC products, which are made with a layered substrate finished with a wood veneer, offer dimensional stability, structural integrity resulting from the layered design, an increased product life span and better performance in challenging environments.

These benefits form the basis of the business, according to TEC product manager Justin Hayward, and have allowed Timbmet to meet its clients’ needs. “There are better ways now to make wood work for everyone,” he said. “We’ve tried to create better products across key selling points and provide a solution for our customers.”

By cutting the amount of waste generated, reducing handling and storage, eliminating naturally occurring flaws and defects, ensuring the efficient use of timber by using offcuts, creating dimensional stability, and using all of the above to reduce the cost of materials and labour hours, Timbmet says that TEC has “taken the beauty and strength of wood” and created “ingenious, engineered solutions which enhance the appearance and improve its stability and durability”.

This is underpinned by a range of tests, including shear testing to ensure a minimum strength of 39 bar, vacuum pressure testing and testing to discover the modulus of elasticity and rupture, that ensure the products are fit for purpose.

Combined, these have put TEC in a position to offer an alternative to sawn wood and man-made material across a range of applications.

Launched in spring 2004, TEC originally offered a core range of windows, doors and staircases, but has since seen demand for bespoke products increase. This created the opportunity for Timbmet to expand the TEC range beyond off-the-shelf components and make it a “solutions-based business” that is prepared to tackle every customer’s request. “There’s nothing we’ve not been able to conquer,” said Hayward.


The Falcon Wharf development required a bespoke solution to match the humidity and temperature demands of the design
When architect James Burland and Soundcraft Joinery wanted to create winter gardens at the Falcon Wharf development in London that provided a semi-outdoor space protected from the capital’s weather and the noise of the nearby London Heliport, they turned to TEC. The job required custom-designed windows and doors capable of dealing with high humidity and temperature change, which meant traditional materials, such as ash, were deemed unusable. “This project demonstrates our ability to take a set of specification challenges and work with the joinery manufacturer to create a bespoke solution,” said Hayward.  

Other projects where TEC products have been used to help architects and joiners achieve their desired finish include the recently opened Stanley Hall at the University of California in Berkeley, US, where custom-made western red cedar-wrapped aluminium soffits feature in the roof; and the installation of wooden louvres during a remodelling of King’s College in London.

The next step in the growth of TEC has been the launch of a range of passive components, which Hayward said provide performance “unheard of in the UK market”, including doors with an acoustic level of 44 and windows with a 0.8 U-value. When installed in a Passive House, Timbmet says that the insulated products can help reduce household fuel consumption to as little as 10% of that in a standard home, giving added incentive for housebuilders and developers to install them.


The TEC range includes staircases
“The environmental side is first class,” said Hayward. “We’ve got our act together with solutions to meet the need [for low carbon products and materials].” TEC’s environmental credentials extend right back through the supply chain and are highlighted by the fact that the substrate at the heart of TEC products can be constructed from a range of recycled materials, including hardwood, finger-jointed softwood, LVL, aluminium and plastic, depending on their intended use.  

Environmental benefits and practical strength are not the only plus points of the TEC range though, according to Hayward. From German laminated timber manufacturer Holz Schiller to North American-based producer Contact Industries, Hayward said that another strength of TEC is its international supply chain. Timbmet says that it spent two years searching out the right companies to work with on TEC, so that, according to_Hayward it could trust its partners “and ensure that the range’s key selling points were manifest throughout each and every one of the products”.


Timbmet made custom-made covered soffits, comprising aluminium wrapped in a western red cedar veneer, for Stanley Hall at the University of California, Berkeley
The close relationships with suppliers, he added, ensure consistent grading, drying and finishing to create a uniformity in performance and appearance that “furthers the TEC brand and allows architects and specifiers to trust the materials to function as they have been designed to do”.  

Hayward added that TEC products, when specified correctly, could last indefinitely. With brand recognition established, TEC is expected to play a key role in Timbmet’s business. “It’s a multi-solution business and there’s nothing we won’t be able to handle in the future,” he said.

Keywords: Timbmet engineered components
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