Cordwood – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Tree Wood and Lumber Glossary

What is Cordwood?

Cordwood, also known as stackwood or cordwood masonry, is a building material made from stacking and bonding short pieces of wood together with mortar or other binding materials. The term “cordwood” comes from the measurement unit of a cord, which is a stack of wood measuring 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet. Cordwood construction has been used for centuries in various parts of the world, particularly in regions with abundant wood resources.

How is Cordwood harvested?

Cordwood is typically harvested from trees that have been felled for timber or other purposes. The logs are cut into short lengths, usually around 12 to 24 inches long, and then split into smaller pieces. The wood is seasoned or dried to reduce moisture content before being used in construction. Some builders may use a mix of different types of wood to create a visually appealing pattern in the finished structure.

What are the benefits of using Cordwood?

There are several benefits to using cordwood as a building material. Cordwood is a renewable resource, making it an environmentally friendly choice for construction projects. It is also a relatively inexpensive material, especially in areas where wood is abundant. Cordwood structures have excellent thermal mass properties, which can help regulate indoor temperatures and reduce heating and cooling costs. Additionally, cordwood buildings have a unique and rustic appearance that can add character to a home or other structure.

What are the different types of Cordwood?

There are several different types of cordwood construction techniques, each with its own unique characteristics. Mortar-based cordwood masonry involves stacking wood pieces and filling the gaps with mortar or other binding materials. Through-wall cordwood construction involves embedding the wood pieces into a mortar matrix, creating a solid wall structure. Post-and-beam cordwood construction uses vertical posts to support the cordwood walls. Hybrid cordwood construction combines cordwood with other building materials, such as straw bales or cob, to create a more insulated and durable structure.

How is Cordwood used in construction?

Cordwood can be used to build a variety of structures, including homes, cabins, sheds, and outbuildings. The wood pieces are stacked and bonded together to form walls, which can be load-bearing or non-load-bearing depending on the construction technique used. Cordwood can also be used for interior walls, fireplaces, and other decorative elements in a building. The finished structure can be left natural or finished with a protective coating or plaster to enhance durability and weather resistance.

What are some considerations when using Cordwood for building projects?

When using cordwood for building projects, there are several important considerations to keep in mind. First, it is essential to properly season the wood to reduce moisture content and prevent rotting or mold growth. Choosing the right type of wood is also crucial, as some species are more resistant to decay and insect damage than others. Proper insulation and moisture barriers should be installed to protect the cordwood walls from the elements. It is also important to follow local building codes and regulations when using cordwood in construction projects to ensure the safety and structural integrity of the finished building.