• Remove facet 06 00 00: Wood, Plastics, and Composites
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In spite of its inherent drawbacks—it burns, it rots, it expands and contracts with moisture—wood has been a material of choice for centuries for everything from large structural members to fine millwork.

We use wood in many different forms: as solid pieces of lumber milled and finished to the shape we need, as thin veneers shaved off a log, or as wood fiber, glued together into engineered panels and other shapes.

Forest management and FSC

Environmental damage and resource depletion from centuries of logging North American forests have made us much more sensitive to the need for careful forest management: harvesting timber in a way that protects wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, aquifer recharge, and the long-term interests of local communities.

These concerns led to the practice of independent certification of well-managed forests, and a system of labeling wood products from those forests so specifiers and builders can use wood with some confidence that the forest it came from is not being abused. Tree farms or plantations may be one legitimate alternative to logging in natural forests, as long as those forests are not being cleared and converted to create more plantations.

In GreenSpec we look to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification as the most responsible indicator that wood products of all types come from well-managed forests.

Salvaged and reclaimed wood

For most building materials, the terms “salvaged” and “reclaimed” apply only to materials that have been previously used and then collected for reuse. This definition applies to wood products as well, especially large timbers from old structures that are remilled for use as structural members or flooring.

With wood products, however, there are also logs that have been salvaged from river bottoms, or from forests that have been submerged by reservoirs. Some foresters even refer to cleanup operations after a forest has been damaged by logging, fire, or storms as “salvage.” These kinds of salvaged wood don’t count toward LEED credits, but might still be a good option. Be careful, though: some salvage operations, particularly river-bottom salvage, can cause habitat disruption.

Glues and binders

The most common binders used to make panel products, such as plywood, oriented-strand board (OSB), particleboard, and medium- or high-density fiberboard (MDF or HDF), use formaldehyde as a primary ingredient. Panels designed for indoor use are especially problematic, because the urea-formaldehyde resin that holds them together is less stable and offgases carcinogenic formaldehyde.

Alternative binders are available and increasingly common, thanks to growing awareness of the issue and recent regulations (led by California) restricting allowable formaldehyde emissions. Look for products that meet California’s CARB Phase II requirements for having no-added urea-formaldehyde (NAUF).

Preservative and other treatments

To prevent wood from rotting in applications where it can get wet, and from burning, we treat it with chemicals, some of which are toxic—although use of the worst heavy-metal formulations has been largely eliminated in buildings over the past decade. Less-hazardous alternatives are available for many applications.

Insulated panels and sheathing

Most insulation products are covered separately in Division 7, Thermal and Moisture Protection, but those integrated with wood, such as structural insulated panels (SIPs, also known as stressed-skin panels), are listed here.
SIPs are useful for creating building envelopes with continuous insulation (spanning across structural members that otherwise short-circuit the insulation) and with minimal air leakage. Some sheathing products also have integral insulation that provides similar benefits.

Plastic lumber

Both virgin and recycled plastic construction products are increasingly used to make construction products, including boards and trim intended to replace wood in outdoor applications such as decking and fencing. GreenSpec doesn’t favor using virgin plastic in this way, especially the ubiquitous PVC, but recycled plastic products can be a good choice. There are also wood-plastic composites that offer some advantages over either wood or plastic alone.

In spite of its inherent drawbacks—it burns, it rots, it expands and contracts with moisture—wood has been a material of choice for centuries for everything from large structural members to fine millwork.

We use wood in many different forms: as solid pieces of lumber milled and finished to the shape we need, as thin veneers shaved off a log, or as wood fiber, glued together into engineered panels and other shapes.

  • ECOR Universal Construction Panels
  • ECOR Universal Construction Panels
  • Noble Environmental Technologies
  • ECOR Universal Construction Panels
    Noble Environmental Technologies
    ECOR Environmental Structural Panels (ESPs) are made from 100% recycled cellulose from sources such as cardboard, newspaper, and forest byproducts. The cellulose is heated, pressurized, and formed into panels that can be used in place of standard wood, particleboard, fiberboard, and other materials. These formaldehyde-free panels are made without the use of adhesives and can be used as is, or coated with paint, clear finishes for moisture resistance, or other high-performance coatings. They are available in 2' x 8' x 1/8" and 2' x 4' x 1/8" dimensions for its flat (FlatCOR) panels and 2' x 8' x 1-5/8" for its wavy (WavCOR) panels. Class A fire-rated panels, custom sizes, shapes, veneers, and other options are also available.
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  • Gutex Multitherm Weather Resistant Wood Insulation
  • Gutex Multitherm Weather Resistant Wood Insulation
  • Four Seven Five
  • Gutex Multitherm Weather Resistant Wood Insulation
    Four Seven Five
    Multitherm is a moisture-resistant, breathable, rigid insulation and weather-resistive-barrier made from 95% wood fiber, 4% polyurethane binders, and 0.5% paraffin. Manufactured in Germany, these panels are intended for use on exterior walls under rainscreens, and are engineered with tongue and groove edges to improve weather resistance and ease installation, since the panels do not have to line up with studs. The 1-9/16"-thick, 43.3"-long, 31.5"-wide panels have an R-value of 3.7 per inch (R-5.5 per panel) and a perm rating of 27. Custom sizes are also available.
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  • Thermostat Plywood Radiant Barrier Sheathing
  • Thermostat Plywood Radiant Barrier Sheathing
  • Georgia-Pacific Building Products
  • Thermostat Plywood Radiant Barrier Sheathing
    Georgia-Pacific Building Products
    Thermostat incorporates a radiant barrier onto Georgia-Pacific's Plytanium plywood sheathing, combining the performance of plywood and an emissivity of 0.03 (97% reflectance) to help keep attics cooler. These 4'x8' sheathing panels are available in 15/32" and 19/32" thicknesses.
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  • Weyerhaeuser Radiant Barrier Sheathing
  • Weyerhaeuser Radiant Barrier Sheathing
  • Weyerhaeuser
  • Weyerhaeuser Radiant Barrier Sheathing
    Weyerhaeuser
    Weyerhaeuser’s Radiant Barrier Sheathing (RBS) is an OSB roof sheathing with a radiant-foil overlay to minimize radiant heat gain. This sheathing is typically placed under the outer layer of wood and shingles on a roof. Similar to most sheathing products, RBS uses low-emitting phenol formaldehyde resins. RBS comes in 4'x8' sheets and is available in 7/16", 15/32", and 19/32" thicknesses.
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  • Stramit CAFboard
  • Stramit CAFboard
  • Stramit USA, LLC
  • Stramit CAFboard
    Stramit USA, LLC
    CAFboard is a compressed-fiber panel manufactured by Stramit from wheat straw. The company markets the boards for SIPs, door cores, interior sheathing, acoustical panels, and many other applications. CAFboard is processed under high heat and pressure, which convert lignin already present in the straw into a natural binder—no binder is added, and testing shows zero VOC emissions. The boards have a STC ratings of 32 (for thinner boards) and 45 (for thicker boards); and a one- or two-hour fire rating (depending on thickness) based on ASTM E119/UL263. The boards contain no added flame retardants. CAFboard is available in densities from 15.6 to 40.5 pounds per cubic foot, and Stramit USA claims that the R-value of these panels ranges from R-2.32 to R-3.03. However, the company couldn't provide a lab report backing those claims, and we think they are exaggerated—see our full review for more discussion.

    Stramit also claims high resistance to mold and mildew without added chemicals, low moisture absorption, natural termite resistance, and a negative carbon footprint. CAFboard panels range in thickness from 1.000" to 3.125" and are available in two standard widths—31.50" and 42.24". The company also incorporates CAFboard into two other Stramit products: the CAFsteel panelized building system and the CAFquiet interior partition system, which features an STC rating of 50.
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  • DurahStyle Sorghum Panels
  • DurahStyle Sorghum Panels
  • ChloroFill
  • DurahStyle Sorghum Panels
    ChloroFill
    DurahStyle panels from Chlorofill are a treeless wood product made from 96% pre-consumerl recycled sorghum and 4% MDI-based binder with no added formaldehyde. The panels can be used for architectural surfaces, wall sheathing, or furniture, among other applications according to the company. The 4' x 8' panels come in thicknesses of 0.25", 0.5”, 0.75”.
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  • Myco Board
  • Myco Board
  • Ecovative Design LLC
  • Myco Board
    Ecovative Design LLC
    Myco Board is a particleboard made from agricultural waste and mycelium (mushroom "roots"). It uses no formaldehyde and does not emit VOCs. In addition, it can be formed into shapes or grown to adhere to wood veneers and facing materials without needing adhesives. The material can be produced at several densities, has a Class A fire rating, a flexure strength of 501psi, and a screw withdrawal of 110 lbf.
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  • Myco Foam Insulating Sheathing
  • Myco Foam Insulating Sheathing
  • Ecovative Design LLC
  • Myco Foam Insulating Sheathing
    Ecovative Design LLC
    Myco Foam insulating sheathing is an insulation board made of Ecovative's Mushroom Insulation bonded to Fortifiber's waterproof facing. The insulation board has comparable performance to foam insulation with a compressive strength of 0.3–6.7 psi at 10% compression (ASTM D695), R-value of R-3.6/inch (ASTM C518), and water vapor transmission of 0.02–0.03 perms (ASTM E96). The foam achieves a Class A fire rating with no added flame retardants.
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  • Rugby Architectural Composite Wood
  • Rugby Architectural Composite Wood
  • Rugby Architectural Building Products
  • Rugby Architectural Composite Wood
    Rugby Architectural Building Products
    Rugby Architectural Building Products distributes a number of no added formaldehyde (NAF) and FSC-certified building materials, including particleboard, medium density fiberboard (MDF), melamine panels, composite panels, and hardwood plywood (with veneer, particleboard, and MDF core options). Its MDF is made from 100% recycled wood content. They offer a low VOC adhesive and a polyvinyl acetate (PVA, or white glue) adhesive. Rugby also distributes FSC-certified dimensional lumber as well as class A fire-rated panels.
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  • X-LAM Cross-Laminated Timber
  • X-LAM Cross-Laminated Timber
  • Nordic Engineered Wood
  • X-LAM Cross-Laminated Timber
    Nordic Engineered Wood
    X-Lam cross-laminated timber (CLT) structural panels are made by gluing layers of black spruce one on top of the next at right angles to each other. The resulting panels are light and dimensionally stable in all directions and can be used for floors, walls, and roofing in commercial and residential construction. These panels use fast-growing, FSC-certified black spruce, with no-added-formaldehyde adhesive. X-Lam panels are available in lengths up to 64 feet long, 8 feet wide, and 15 inches thick.
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  • CrossLam Cross Laminated Timber
  • CrossLam Cross Laminated Timber
  • Structurlam Products Ltd.
  • CrossLam Cross Laminated Timber
    Structurlam Products Ltd.
    CrossLam is a cross-laminated timber (CLT) structural panel made by gluing layers of softwood boards one on top of the next at right angles to each other. The resulting panels are light and dimensionally stable in all directions and can be used for floors, walls, and roofing. CLT is made from less desirable wood, including wood taken from forests killed by mountain pine beetles, but higher quality wood can be used if it is going to be exposed to view, and FSC-certified wood is available. CLT comes in panels up to 40 feet long, 10 feet wide, and 12 inches thick and uses formaldehyde-free Purebond polyurethane adhesive.
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  • Nordic Engineered Wood
  • Nordic Engineered Wood
  • Nordic Engineered Wood
  • Nordic Engineered Wood
    Nordic Engineered Wood
    Nordic Engineered Wood manufactures I-joists, beams and headers, wall studs, columns, and rim boards using fibers taken from the tips of black spruce (typically a waste product of logging) using the company’s ISO-14001 certified system. These engineered lumber products are made using polyurethane-based adhesives and do not contain resorcinol or added formaldehyde. FSC-certified wood is an option for all products. Nordic Engineered Wood products are available in a variety of sizes and price points for commercial, residential, and manufactured building systems. Its rimboard is 1-1/8 inches thick, edge-coated for protection against moisture, and is offered in depths that correspond to I-joist and beam dimensions.
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  • Chilipepper
  • Chilipepper
  • J. L. Powell & Co., Inc.
  • Chilipepper
    J. L. Powell & Co., Inc.
    J. L. Powell & Co. specializes in custom architectural millwork, including stair parts and flooring, produced from reclaimed lumber including heart pine and oak. Plank flooring is kiln dried to an average moisture content of 8% and is manufactured with square cut ends.
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  • General Panel Corporation Structural Insulated Panels
  • General Panel Corporation Structural Insulated Panels
  • General Panel Corporation
  • General Panel Corporation Structural Insulated Panels
    General Panel Corporation
    General Panel Corporation produces an EPS-core SIP system. The company offers panels with a EPS core thicknesses of 3-5/8", 5-5/8", 7-3/8", 9-3/8", and 11-3/8" with corresponding R-values of 15, 23, 30, 38, and 46. The company produces panels in Mississippi and Tennessee.
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  • Zip Wall and Roof Sheathing System
  • Zip Wall and Roof Sheathing System
  • Huber Engineered Woods
  • Zip Wall and Roof Sheathing System
    Huber Engineered Woods
    Huber’s Zip System consists of a sheathing with a built-in water-resistive barrier, eliminating the need for house wrap and speeding installation. When used with the company’s seam tape, the Zip System has an air leakage rate of 0.037 L/s•m2 @ 75 Pascal per ASTM E2357 (below the ABAA standard of 0.2 L/s•m2 @ 75 Pascal) and can contribute to an airtight building assembly while allowing vapor permeability, thus reducing the risk of moisture damage. Available for roofs and walls, this sheathing incorporates Huber’s PS2-rated AdvanTech floor panels, which are made with low-emitting no-added formaldehyde (NAUF) resins (a combination of phenol formaldehyde and MDI). The green outer skin is Kraft paper impregnated with phenol formaldehyde resin, which forms a thermoset polymer coating . Available in 7/16"-thick 4'x8', 4'x9', and 4'x10' panels and ½"-thick 4'x8' panels, Zip sheathing comes with a 30-year warranty. Also available is Zip System R-Sheathing, which includes a layer of polyisocyanurate insulation, for use as a continuous exterior insulation and sheathing. R-Sheathing comes in 1" and 1-½" thick panels with overall R-value of R-3 and R-6, respectively.
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