From creating warm, luxurious, visually appealing interiors to specifying natural materials offering inherent sustainability benefits, wood ceilings and walls help architects and designers meet a variety of discerning building owners’ and occupants’ needs.
Biophilic Design Influences Sustainability, Product Performance, and Occupant Health
By specifying wood ceiling and wall products, architects and designers can incorporate natural elements into a variety of designs. This not only addresses popular biophilic design demands, it also has been shown to have positive impacts on the health and happiness of building occupants: reduced stress for office workers, faster healing times for healthcare patients and higher test scores for students.
A study on the impact of wood on the quality of interior ambiance explored these physical benefits, emphasizing the importance of natural materials to enhance mental and physical health and overall wellbeing. A room with 45 percent wood coverage across all surfaces was most preferred by participants and most likely to be labeled as “comfortable,” concluded another study from Japan.
While solid wood and natural wood veneers have the direct biophilic benefits associated with occupant health and comfort, these materials also bring a warm, luxurious aesthetic and an air of sophistication that is challenging to replicate with synthetic materials. Plus, a variety of size, shape, and style options enable specifiers to design one-of-a-kind installations from a standardized offering.
Natural wood offers design freedom and acoustical performance options. Traditional wood panels can feature common installation features such as lay in narrow reveal or lift-and-shift semi-concealed edges installations for ceilings, or Z-clips, standoff, and extruded trim installations for walls. Panels can also provide visual interest and acoustic performance with perforated, micro-perforated, slotted, and channeled patterns. Linear products in plank or panelized linear options allow for continuous linear visuals in a variety of wood finishes with easy installation methods for both ceiling and wall applications. Canopies and clouds in rectangle and rhombus shapes can be concave, convex or flat, allowing designers to incorporate natural materials and add dimension to a space in new and unique ways.
Meanwhile, grilles and open cells feature unique textures and depth allowing for easy inclusion of hidden acoustic ceiling panels above the installation enhancing the acoustical performance of the ceiling system. Designers can manage noise in restaurants, bars, cafes, and other hospitality settings without sacrificing the aesthetic.
When responsibly harvested and processed, wood ceiling products also add to a building’s sustainability story by contributing to USGBC LEED v4 points through the Certified Wood Credit. For wood products, the credit requires products to be “certified by the Forest Stewardship Council or USGBC approved equivalent.” Reused or recycled materials are the other primary means for achievement of this credit. Products sourced within 100 miles are valued at 200% of their cost.
Veneer products often feature a high percentage of recycled content without sacrificing the solid, real wood surface wood-look products cannot replicate. Plus, veneers made of bamboo are highly renewable, adding to a building’s sustainability story. Wood is a renewable resource requiring less processing than engineered materials. Also, sustainably harvested wood is critical to maintaining forest health from disease and insect destruction, as well as preserving wildlife habitats by encouraging native tree growth.
Design and Performance Considerations
While the inherent material benefits of natural wood products are strong, there are still important considerations in the specification process. Understanding viewing angles and the distance between building occupants and the panel, plank, or canopy helps designers select between natural wood products, wood veneer applied to a metal surfaces, or wood-look alternatives.
“From a distance or certain viewing angle many wood-look and veneered metal products look natural and may be better suited to certain spaces,” notes Zachary Donahue, product manager for Wood Ceilings and Walls at CertainTeed. However, Donahue cautions, “at closer angles and in large quantities the human eye can easily distinguish between natural wood and substitutes. Over time, substitute materials age differently than natural wood, which can lead to an unappealing aesthetic. This may also mean that the ceiling may need to be replaced sooner than a natural wood surface.”
“If you are selecting different species of wood for aesthetics, make sure you are choosing them for the right reason,” further explains Donahue. “It’s also important to remember clients and visitors don’t stop at the front door. There should be a consistent, natural design throughout the space to facilitate an engaging, comfortable environment for all occupants, including employees.”
Regardless of the space, it is critical that all wood products used in continuous spaces are ordered at the same time. Veneer lots vary and finish lots can change, and ordering additional material weeks or months after the first order is placed can cause problems with matching. Since wood is a natural material, and therefore varies from piece to piece, it’s important to have the general contractor inspect the material before installing or custom cutting panels. There may be a natural variation in the material, so it’s important for the team to lay them out ahead of time to avoid any clashes.
Specifying wood ceiling products can be simple, fast, and cost-effective. From unrivaled aesthetics to the cachet of natural luxury, the role of wood in enhancing biophilic design and sustainability efforts is unbeatable.
Originally Published by US Architectural Market: https://issuu.com/constructionbusinessmedia/docs/2004_archprod