Mass Timber- A Durable Choice

Recent developments in wood technology have generated a range of mass timber products that are strong, durable, and fire-resistant. The versatility and strength of mass timber products continue to draw the attention of architects, builders and industry partners across North America.

Wood’s natural flexibility and toughness make it a resilient building material, capable of providing centuries of durability. One reason behind this is that timber can absorb and release moisture from the air and is resistant to many of the conditions and chemicals that can harm steel and concrete. Coupled with quality design and routine maintenance, mass timber structures can have an astonishingly long service life.

A study from Wood and Fiber Science in 2019 noted that a cross-laminated timber (CLT) structure withstood over 90 minutes of burning before the loss of integrity. In contrast, a single-story wood frame home in the same study only withstood 17 minutes before the collapse. The reason behind mass timber’s remarkable fire resistance lies in how it reacts to flames. When exposed to fire, it forms a layer of char on the surface. This char layer creates an insulator for the core, protecting it from the flames. This attribute makes mass timber a safe choice for homes and mid-rise apartments because it allows the occupants much more time to escape in the event of a fire.

In 2007, a team of Japanese and Italian scientists used a ‘shake table’ to test a seven-story CLT building. The results showed it could withstand the equivalent seismic forces of the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan. Since mass timber elements are flexible, lightweight, and strong, they’re less affected by side-to-side seismic motion than similarly sized steel or concrete structures.

When building your next project, it’s important to consider the durability and resilience of your materials. Using mass timber adds strength and safety. At the same time, wood’s natural qualities make it a visual joy. Cornerstone Timberframes is proud to offer mass timber frames built to last generations.

Are you interested in using mass timbers for your project? Reach out to us by phone at 204- 377-5000, or via email at

Photo by Nordic Structures.