Understanding the Insulating Properties of Wood

Floor installation

By insulating your home properly, you can both save money and be environmentally responsible. While concrete structures may come to mind when you think of the best insulated homes, wood can actually be the most eco-friendly choice. Using solid wood to build and insulate your home instead of concrete or steel can actually be the most cost-efficient option, as well.


R-value represents the amount of heat flow a material can resist. Solid wood has a lower R-value than concrete, which leads homeowners to believe that wood is an inferior insulator. However, the problem with judging wood by its R-value is that doing so ignores how much heat wood can absorb and distribute.

Thermal Mass

Thermal mass is the key concept to solid wood’s ability to store and transfer heat. According to a recent Lincoln University study, solid wood has over 2.5 times the thermal mass of concrete when the two are measured by weight. Because concrete is more dense, a concrete wall will have greater thermal mass than a wood wall of the same width. However, wood is able to effectively redistribute warm air.

Thermal Retention and Distribution

Solid wood’s combination of low R-value and high thermal mass actually work to its advantage as an insulator. Wood walls, floors, and ceilings actually absorb heat from the environment during the day. Later, the stored heat permeates through the wood and into the home. As a result, wood can help keep your home at the right temperature and requires less material than concrete and other insulators.

At Southern Lumber, we carry hundreds of wood types that you can use for your walls, flooring, and ceilings. Call us at (408) 533-0360 to find out more about how we can help you insulate your home with quality wood, including local varieties and exotic specialty woods. In addition to helping you find the right type of wood, Southern Lumber’s experienced staff can cut and install lumber for you.

Stay in touch

Value Statements: