Autumn time at Birmingham NEC can only mean one thing – the UK’s largest build sector event UK Construction Week (UKCW).

The UK’s timber industry’s only event dedicated to timber products –Timber Expo – formed one of nine shows at the venue and was having it second outing as part of UKCW.

Leading trade associations supported Timber Expo, which covered the breadth of timber applications from timber frame, sawmills, merchants, glulam, SIPs, cross-laminated timber (CLT), fixings and fastenings, timber cladding, doors/windows, mouldings, skirtings and flooring. Organiser Media 10 said UKCW attracted more than 30,000 trade visitors and over 650 exhibitors this year, not including the adjacent Grand Designs Live event.

It said the visitor profile included tradespeople, self-builders, architects, civil engineers, national housebuilders and interior designers, with the attendance up from last year’s inaugural event, which attracted over 25,000 trade visitors.

No attendance figures are available yet for Timber Expo, but footfall was good at certain times. Exhibitor numbers were reduced though from last year.

Nathan Garnett, event director for Timber Expo, said 41% of the trade visitor attendance had singled timber and wood products as their primary interest.

“As construction looks for quicker and more sustainable building methods, the timber sector is becoming increasingly important,” he said.

“As such, we are continually looking for new ways to strengthen and help the show grow. The partnership with TRADA, for example, has been a great success with the seminar schedule proving extremely popular this year.

“This is something we will look to continue moving forward and we will be consulting with various other stakeholders in the timber industry to see how we can develop the show further.” Timber Expo was the setting for a “relaunch” of the Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI), with four major trade associations coming together to celebrate the progress made by the organisation and present three CTI policy reports on skills, sustainability and value & growth.

The event was backed by the Timber Trade Federation (TTF), British Woodworking Federation (BWF), Structural Timber Association and Builders Merchant Federation (BMF).

David Hopkins, managing director of the TTF, said the CTI had been through several changes in the past 12-14 months but now projects were coming to fruition and it was starting to take a lead role in public affairs.

STA chief executive Andrew Carpenter said the timber building sector was experiencing high levels of growth, with a new STA report revealing that timber frame grew by 10% in 2015 – an increase of 7,000 units on the previous year.

Mr Carpenter said the newly published Farmer Review was “very exciting” for the structural timber sector, while moves like Legal & General’s investment in off-site timber systems factories could disrupt the traditional masonry building model.

There was big news from Spanish plywood manufacturer Garnica Plywood which announced it was looking for UK distributors as part of its ambition to enter the volume UK commodity plywood sector.

The company told TTJ that it had previously concentrated on the caravanning and marine sector in the UK for many years but it now also wanted to target other applications with its 100% PEFC-certified poplar plywood. Among its value-added products include Fireshield and treated Duraply.

It is also capable of providing an alternative solution for Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) for construction using plywood instead of OSB.

Garnica has a massive investment programme going on, with production capacity scheduled to increase to 400,000m3.

One of the few UK saw millers present at Timber Expo was A&J Scott and sales and marketing manager Simon Ellis said the company was set for a “good, strong spell”. The company is installing an Excalibur Pro incising machine to service the market for incised timber posts. It also invested in the mill at the start of the year to remove bottlenecks in production and improve capacity. A smaller than last year French contingent, backed by the country’s timber industry promotional organisation French Timber, included Piveteaubois with its wide range of timber products and emphasis on innovation to differentiate itself from other suppliers. This includes Douglas fir and larch glulam, as well as treated pine glulam. It sees opportunities for Use Class 4 glulam in playground equipment.

The company’s extensive range of timber cladding includes a pressure-treated range with grey colour, which anticipates the natural weathering of wood.

Kronospan had a prominent stand as usual and was showcasing its Kronobuild range of products, which includes the Firestop and Airstop OSB ranges for construction. Its FastClean peel-off chipboard floor deck product now features a new waterproof and slip-resistant film which Kronospan says is easier to remove, peeling off in one piece.

Lonza Wood Protection (formerly Arch Timber Protection) had two stands this year and came to Birmingham now fully integrated into the wider Lonza chemicals company within its coatings and composites division – a move which Lonza’s marketing director Andy Hodge said was exciting in terms of future technical crossover and product development.

Tanashades pre-treated and colour-washed wood was one of Lonza’s major draws on its stand and represented an opportunity, said Mr Hodge, of bringing something fresh to the decking and cladding market. Customers can sell the product under their own brand. Total Panel Plus+ is another new product being a dipped treatment in any colour to differentiate from the normal gold colour offered on the market for fencing and other garden products.

“We are speaking to some of the dipped product manufacturers,” said Mr Hodge. “We believe this product can shake things up. Why not do something different with a fence panel?”

Other Lonza developments on the horizon include a new version of Tanalith scheduled for next year.

Meanwhile, TRADA led an informative educational seminar programme in the Timber Focus Theatre, which included included a lively debate attended by Kevin McCloud of the Grand Designs television programme.

TRADA picked up several new memberships from architects and was promoting new technical guides, such as “Structural Timber Elements: a pre-scheme design guide”, aimed at helping designers iron out issues early on in projects when working with timber.

TRADA has been involved in a joint project with the Architectural Association, challenging the latter’s students to explore membrane and timber composite structures. An installation at Timber Expo was hosted on the AA and Hanson Plywood stand and features rows of plywood-latex composite in undulating double-curved forms interacting with the light above.