How Long Does A Wooden House Last?

Since humans learned to use wood for construction, wooden homes have been a mainstay.

Many survive for an impressive number of years. If you live in a wooden house, you might wonder how long a wooden house will last.

The answer to how long a wooden house will last, as it is with many constructed wooden dwellings, depends on multiple factors.

Here is a summary of how long wooden homes last, barring exceptional circumstances like natural disasters.

The Oldest Wooden House

The oldest wooden house in the world is Kirkjuboargarour (King’s Farm) in Denmark, constructed in the 11th century.

The Fairbanks House in Dedham, MA, is the oldest wooden house in the U.S., built in 1637.

Just about every historic district in America has at least one wooden structure that is older than 100, and in Europe, 200 and 300 years old houses are not unique.

Homes that are several hundred years old, however, are uncommon. That is partly why old wooden houses end up in a historic district or get their own web pages, and the wood home you live in has likely gotten neither.

How To Make a Wooden House Last Longer

One of the first things to understand is that those really old homes likely do not have all their original wood. Much of the original wood has been replaced because wood dries, becomes brittle, burns easily, cracks, and rots, depending on the environment it is located.

With that information in mind, it is important to note that it is unlikely that a wooden house’s entire frame or structure will last more than 100 years.

However, with modern wood and construction technology, a wooden structure could likely last over 100 years if well maintained.

After all, those really old homes made it this long without superior wood or construction technology.

What can ensure that a home lasts for as long as possible?

Quality Wood

You must have professionally cut wood that avoids natural weaknesses for a building material that will stand the test of time. Running out into the woods and hacking down a tree will likely not yield wood far beyond your lifespan. Selecting wood that is appropriate for its purpose is also essential.

There are particular types of wood that work better as flooring than others. Some woods, such as oak and ash, can withstand daily traffic and the elements in stride, while others, like fir, are too soft to be used in any place except molding. Many types are resistant to insects, while others act as giant food sources for pests.

Making sure you use wood where it can thrive is key to building a home that lasts for decades.

Maintenance

As important as the wood and construction technology is, nothing makes up for proper maintenance. Wood is rugged and can put up with a lot, but it also needs plenty of TLC to keep it looking great and to extend its lifespan.

Wood tends to dry out quickly the older it gets. Ignoring that reality is just asking for a problem, particularly if that wood is exposed to an open flame. Additionally, wood that is constantly wet will rot rapidly. Both dryness and wetness are enemies of wood.

You must ensure that your house care regimen includes inspecting wood and identifying vulnerable areas. You then must treat those weak areas following wood care instructions. Neglecting to do so is asking for the wood to age and rot prematurely.

The older the home, the more work is needed to keep it up. Ignoring problems like dry rot or insect infestation can dramatically shorten the lifespan of a house. The maintenance demands are almost never-ending regarding the proper upkeep of an old home.

Those maintenance demands include regularly inspecting the house and identifying areas that need repair or replacement.

Environment

If you live with extreme heat or cold, excess rain or drought, your wooden home may survive a long time. Chances are pretty good that your wooden structure will last for many decades, but not centuries. To compensate for the elements, you must ensure your wood gets treated in a way that helps it stand up to whatever environmental element threatens it.

Craftmanship

It goes without saying that if the craftmanship used in construction is subpar, the home will suffer. Exposed wood, poorly connected seams, and abused surfaces are all factors that harm the house and reduce the home’s overall value. A poorly built house will have problems with the weather, heat, cold, and everyday wear and tear.

Building Technology

As humans learned to work with wood, they developed building technology that helped wooden structures stand the test of time. Using appropriate words in certain places, treating wood, and learning how to care for wood were all things humans learned from experience that directly enhanced the lifespan of a house.

The Foundation

A wooden home has a much better chance of lasting a long time because of its foundation. Foundations used to be stone or even bare earth, but modern concrete foundations allow a home to last for much longer so long as the house is well-maintained.

Homes of all materials, not just wood, last longer because modern foundations are sturdier, and basements have better drainage.

Additionally, concrete foundation design can help protect the home against freezing and is reinforced so they do not crumble or fall apart easily. Better foundations help sustain a wooden house because it is not as exposed to the ground and rests on a sturdier setting.

A Fair Life Expectancy

All those factors can help a new or old wooden house survive a long time. If each of those factors gets managed well, you can expect a home to last a long time.

The average wooden house will last many decades with no problem, regardless of how it is constructed, its foundation, or whether the elements are prevented from affecting it.

The best gauge of the longevity of a typical home is the average estimated age of all homes. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over half of U.S. houses were built before 1980, and about 38 percent of homes in the U.S. were built before 1970.

Every state in the U.S. has at least one wooden home older than 200 years, and 100-year-old homes are common across the country.

Those wooden houses have lasted regardless of the materials used, foundation quality, craftsmanship, or the environment.

Thanks to modern wood care technology and building techniques, your wooden home can enjoy a substantially longer life.

With treated wood, better connecting and protecting materials, and building technology improvements, it is not unreasonable to expect a well-built and well-maintained home to last 100 to 150 years old.

The Key Factor

No matter what you use to build a wooden house, the key to it lasting a long time is ensuring it is correctly cared for and maintained. Staying on top of repairs and always ensuring those repairs are done correctly, safeguarding against fire, only using quality materials, etc., are all significant factors in prolonging the life of the average wooden home.

Final Thoughts

Wooden homes have lasted centuries; even those only marginally well-maintained will last for probably half a century. If you care for your wooden home and use modern building technology to your advantage, you can expect that it will stand the test of time no matter what gets thrown at it.

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