In North America alone, there are countless houses still occupied that are well over 100 years old. World-wide, there are far more surviving wood buildings older than that, including a Japanese temple built 1300 years ago. That in mind, there is absolutely no denying the fact that wood built structures are durable and long-lasting.
In the early days of wood construction, the primary structural components were placed directly in the ground, which eventually leads to decay. Having these early houses last for centuries is a testimony for the longevity of wood built houses today that have the added advantage of technology.
Today, specially treated wood can now be made durable against fungi, termites and decay. It can also be made water resistant and fire resistant. Also, wood framing can handle threats of Hawaii’s harsh environmental conditions with positive and proven long term results.
In addition, the failure of a wooden structure is foreseeable. Other building materials could lose its stability and structure suddenly without any warning.
There's no reason a wood structure can't last virtually forever - or, at least hundreds of years, far longer than we may actually need the building. With a good understanding of how to protect wood from decay and fire, we can expect today's wood buildings to be around for as long as we wish.
The Durability site is a joint CWC/ FPInnovations- Forintek website whose intent is to provide current information on the durability of wood products in order to ensure long service life of wood structures. The site is maintained and updated regularly by both groups, which ensures that architects, engineers, builders,and homeowners get answers to their inquiries regarding wood durability.
History has shown that, with proper design and maintenance, wood structures can deliver decades and, in fact, centuries of reliable service. The key is careful planning and understanding of environmental loads and other external factors likely to impact a building over its lifetime.