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Leaf through any modern design magazine - or step into any new build - and chances are high that you will find timber lined walls. Often seen as a good way to add warmth to an interior, environmental and maintenance reasons also factor into the shift away from plasterboard products.
It’s a fairly unanimously held view that being surrounded by the richness of timber provides a sensation of warmth, cosiness and wellbeing - and now there is science to prove it.
Based on studies carried out in Norway, Japan, Canada and Austria, timber structures have a calming effect on their occupiers, lowering blood pressure and heart rate.
According to Docent and Doctor of Psychology, Marjut Wallenuis, who worked on the study, even simply touching a wooden surface makes people feel safe and close to nature. Aside from the aesthetic effects, Wallenuis says the perceived sensation of wellbeing could also be due to acoustics and air quality, which may be improved by the use of timber.
Timber has a positive impact on the environment, too. While plasterboard is difficult to recycle, around 20,000 tons go into landfill every year - in Sydney alone! (Globally around 80 million tons of plasterboard goes into landfill.) In contrast, timber stores carbon and is a great way to reduce the carbon footprint of your home.
This is especially true of Vulcan timber panelling, which is Australia’s first verified carbon negative timber product, with a certified Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) achieved last year.
Vulcan timber is preservative free, making it compostable and safe to dispose of. The thermal modification process that Vulcan wood undertakes also means that there are no damaging chemicals leaching into the air after it is applied.
Vulcan is also hardy and impact resistant, unlike plasterboard which will need to be patched if it suffers bangs and bumps. Even if lived in with care, plasterboard will in many cases need to be repainted periodically to keep it looking fresh, which is a costly and time consuming exercise. Vulcan timber panelling may require a wash now and then, however minimal maintenance is expected throughout its lifetime.
With reductions in cost to the Earth as well as to people’s wellbeing, it is no wonder architects, designers and homeowners are coming back to timber lined interiors.
Photography credit: Michael Nicholson