BM TRADA experts have knowledge in timber species and wood boring insect identification in all types of timber and timber-based products. This enables us to identify timber species used to manufacture a wide range of products as well as the organisms that damage them.

Timber species identification services

Understanding timber species is necessary in assessing the strengths of timbers already in service, although the species is only part of the story as an assessment of the strength reducing characteristics is also required to assess the ‘strength grade’ of the timber. This ‘strength grade’ combined with the species allows for a strength class to be assigned.

For historic timbers, species identification can provide evidence about the history of the object and will enable you to select the appropriate timber for replacement suitable to the conservation project.

Timber, being a biological material, has a cellular structure. There are many different wood cell types and anatomical structures some and each family or genus has a specific combination of these features. Softwoods are generally easier to identify than hardwoods since they are fewer in number.

Initially, we carry out a visual examination to determine gross features such as color of grain. Following this we prepare thin sections for examination under the microscope to identify the cell types present, dimensions and their distribution. By using published keys based on authentic sample taken from trees and reference data, we are able to identify timbers.

We also draw upon our expertise and our extensive library of reference timber samples to reach our final conclusion. 

Wood boring insect identification

We are able to identify and understand how timber is affected when under attack by insects and fungal decay. 

Our insect and fungus identification service involves hands-on inspection and non-destructive testing to assess the extent of damage for replacement / repair.

We have a wealth of experience in the behavior of timber in service and the characteristics of damage caused by fungal and / or insect attack as well as the types of insect that attack timber. We use a range of non-destructive techniques and reference data to reach our conclusion.

Timber, being a natural material, provides food for a wide variety of fungi and insects particularly if sapwood is present or where wetting up in service has occurred. Fungal and wood boring insect attack can deface timber and, more importantly, may reduce the strength which can be critical for structural members. 

It is important to recognize that fungal and insect attack may not be active but historic. 

We can provide information on the risk of the insect / fungal attack spreading and we are able to offer advice on the likelihood of this occurring based on the type of damage/insect and the surrounding environment as well as suggestions for remedial measures.

These services are carried out by our highly experienced timber consultants in our internationally recognized laboratories using specialist techniques.