Timber but not as we know it. That was the big, bold headline last Friday in that bible of those in the money, and others who’d like to be, the Financial Times (FT). The article below was a major plug for the use of “new” wood products in construction. The timber sector could not have bought better publicity – and an advert the size of the piece would have cost over £20,000!

Besides quoting Timber Trade Federation chief executive John White on wood’s sustainability, the article talked up the performance of engineered timber products that can “replace concrete and steel to form the structure of the building”. These included laminated veneer lumber and cross-laminated timber, with a big mention given to the latter’s use in the nine-storey Murray Grove block in London. Having gained a foothold in construction of schools and other bigger public buildings, the article said, these materials are now increasingly filtering across into UK housebuilding too.

“Modified” woods, like densified Kebony and heat-treated Thermowood, also got glowing write-ups, highlighting both their performance and flawless eco-credentials.

Another national newspaper also did its bit for wood promotion last week, with timber-based buildings prominent among winners of The Daily Telegraph British Home Awards.

Less good news for the industry, just as better results from the likes of Travis Perkins and James Latham show it clawing its way to recovery, was the government’s cold-eyed axing of the Building Schools for the Future programme (BSF). As the FT piece said, school building is where “new”wood products have really built a bridgehead in the UK. And that’s not to mention the sales the trade hoped to pick up under the BSF’s massive classroom refurbishment plans. So there’s no doubt the end of the initiative will have an impact. The hope is that the new foundations timber has laid in construction in recent years are so firm it will only temporarily slow its market momentum into the future.