Residential health when building with wood

Building with natural products, especially with wood, is in the trend. The wood industry in particular often advertises the high ecological and health compatibility of wood as a building material. Unfortunately, that's not particularly true. Read more here.

Lots of advertising

Wooden houses look rustic, inviting, natural and ecological to the viewer. The wood construction industry in particular still tries to promote this feeling today and declares wood to be one of the most ecological and healthiest building materials.

  • Also read - Life cycle assessment when building with wood
  • Also read - wooden frame construction for many generations
  • Also read - Build a wooden trellis yourself


As a comprehensive study by TU Darmstadt from 2008 shows, wooden houses are not as ecological as they seem at first glance.

Wood is a renewable raw material, the maintenance of a house in timber frame construction causes significantly more greenhouse gases over the service life of around 80 years than with exactly the same solid house.

Health impact

Wood has many positive properties, some of which can also be used indoors - for example as a floorboard:

  • it is warm (has a good heat storage capacity)
  • it has a high potential for wellbeing
  • its natural smell is relaxing to most people


Wood in itself is a very healthy building material. There is hardly anything to doubt about that. However, houses made of completely untreated wood cannot be built.

All those substances that have to be used to preserve wood are very problematic. These substances are neither ecologically nor health harmless, as numerous studies show. It is above all:

  • Wood preservatives
  • Pest control agents in the wood
  • Paints and colors for wood
  • Sealing
  • Assembly

Particularly dangerous are the following substances:

  • solvent
  • formaldehyde
  • Volatile hydrocarbon compounds

That the construction can also be carried out with significantly lower wall thicknesses than in massive houses but must also be considered when it comes to pollutant loads.


Formaldehyde is not only included in many synthetic resins, but also, among others, in wooden panels. Especially when particularly formaldehydrike urea resins are used, the room air is highly contaminated with this substance.

Formaldehyde not only leads to nausea, headache and partially significantly reduced concentration ability. It is also suspected of being able to cause cancer with long-term exposure. Formaldehyde-free products are not available for every area. A complete exclusion of this substance is therefore not possible when building with wood.


Solvents are part of most varnishes, paints, sealants and preservative paints. They keep the solid components in lacquers and paints in solution, which is why they are almost indispensable.

Varnishes and paints are also available on a water basis, but this does not apply to all paints. Many solvents have effects similar to those described for formaldehyde.

Volatile hydrocarbon compounds

These substances, which are grouped under the term VOC, can in some cases also have considerable effects on health. In some cases, individual substances are also suspected of being able to cause cancer if they are exposed for a long time in not low concentrations.

Emission limit values

Current legal regulations provide for a limitation of the emission values for individual building materials at least in some areas. However, building with wood cannot completely prevent harmful substances from being released into the room air.