It’s been pretty hot lately and we have all been feeling it! What’s more, it is still only July, so if this record summer heat is to continue we could have more hot spells over the next couple of months. Our homes are feeling it too, particularly those areas that have natural materials such as timber which will react to changes in temperature and humidity. How can we look after them so that they are not stressed with the large change between our very cold winter and our super-hot summer? Let’s take a look at the properties of timber, how it is used in our homes, and what we can do to look after it well.

The properties of timber

Timber is a natural material and can come from quite a wide variety of trees, all with their own related properties. As a general rule it is worth keeping in mind that wood will expand in the heat. This means that it can warp or swell and cracks can appear over time as it expands and contracts between hot and cold temperatures.

It will also absorb moisture when humidity levels are high, as is typical of our UK summers. Again, this can lead to warping and swelling and the extent of this will depend on the type of wood used. Some trees have a higher tolerance of moisture, while others will expel it causing shrinkage.

The timber in our homes

Timber used in construction will be treated to minimise large differences, but as a natural product there will always remain an element of being affected by heat and humidity. Indoor timber is unlikely to be badly affected, but outdoors it will be more exposed to the weather.

Typically, timber is used for joints, window frames, and doors. If you live in a period property the chances of having timber frames for your windows and doors are much higher than for a more modern home. You are also more likely to have timber joints and roof trusses, all of which can be susceptible to our warmer summer temperatures.

Looking after our timber

While timber is treated, as we have seen, there are a few additional steps you can take to protect your frames and joints:

  • Choose your type of timber wisely if you are replacing or installing new doors or windows. With climate change, the chances of hotter and wetter summers is higher, so opt for wood that can better cope with these conditions.
  • Repair and seal any cracks in your timber to reduce the amount of moisture absorbed and minimise swelling and contraction.
  • Treat your wood with special finishes that will slow down moisture movement. If you are applying these yourself follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

For advice on summer timber maintenance or for a quote for new or replacement doors and windows talk to our Parson’s Joinery experts. You can either give us a call on 01273 814870 or drop us a line at and we’ll be happy to help or provide a quote.