David Salisbury has experienced significant growth in sales of its oak orangeries in recent years and although these rustic-style extensions are proving popular, homeowners often have more queries about this style of project than they do about traditional painted orangeries.
David Salisbury’s design team have collated the most frequently asked questions and provided answers to help other homeowners who might also be thinking about following this trend:
- How does oak compare to other building materials?
Oak has been used as a construction material since the 1500s, however, in the past 30 years, it has seen a revival in house building, particularly for extensions such as orangeries and garden rooms. As a slow growing timber, oak is especially strong and durable – more so than other woods – but its colour and prominent grain are its most characteristic features, and are what attracts many people to this material for orangery design.
- What are the environmental or sustainability benefits of using oak?
As oak trees absorb carbon dioxide and return oxygen to the environment, responsibly resourced oak is deemed carbon neutral so is an eco-friendly choice for extension projects. The oak used in construction today is sourced from long-term, sustainable sources meaning there is plenty of supply and the Earth’s vital resources are not being used. As it is a natural product, it doesn’t require hugely intensive processes to manufacture either and offcuts and waste can also be repurposed or recycled.
- Where will the oak come from?
Oak is a totally sustainable resource. Forestry management schemes such as FSC® and PEFC™ are well established throughout Europe and beyond, ensuring that European oak remains an entirely renewable resource. The majority of the oak that is used in the manufacture of orangeries is sourced from France.
- What’s the difference between green oak and air dried oak?
‘Green oak’, sometimes referred to as ‘wet oak’, tends to be recently felled and sawn and will contain a very high percentage of moisture – typically 40% to 60%. As it dries out over time, the loss of moisture can cause shrinkage, warping, twisting and fissures. A premium quality manufacturer will only use ‘air dried oak’ for a glazed extension: this high specification oak will be air dried for between 7 to 8 years before being machined, giving a much more stable product.
- What are checks and shakes in oak?
Checks and shakes are both naturally occurring features in oak and happen during growth and moisture changes in the material. These generally add to the aesthetic and in high quality air dried oak have no structural impact.
- Can oak be used outside?
Yes. From barrels to battleships, Oak has graced many of the greatest moments and places in history. Oak has a much higher resistance to rot and decay than other timbers, and for this reason, it does not need to be treated chemically. Naturally occurring preservatives in oak also deter insects and fungi which can cause damage in other woods.
Over the years, the colour will change and an oak orangery will adapt to local conditions and seasonal fluctuations becoming more silvery in appearance. Homeowners should be aware of this softening in colour and naturalising of their extension, which is entirely natural and helps the extension blend in with the host building and its surroundings.
- Can oak be painted?
While many people choose oak for its natural colour, appearance and rustic charm, if a painted extension is a homeowner’s preference, there are other hardwoods that are more suited to a painted finish than oak.
- Does oak need treating?
Oak does not need treating – in fact as a natural material we generally recommend it is left to breathe, to allow it to silver over time. However, if customers want to retain the ‘honey’ colour of the oak, there are different treatments which can be applied – but this is entirely down to customer taste.
- Conservatories have often been thought of as too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. Is an oak framed orangery or garden room a good alternative?
Conservatories of the 80s and 90s, often made from uPVC, are typically associated with climate control issues, however, thankfully with updated manufacturing methods, along with advances in heating and ventilation, today’s modern extensions are suitable for all seasons and year round enjoyment. With modern glazing technologies and joinery techniques, bespoke wood orangeries, including oak orangeries, are ideal for year-round enjoyment.
- How long does an oak extension/oak frame last?
A premium oak extension will last for generations. This means that should a homeowner wish to sell their property at some point in the future, unlike a uPVC orangery, an oak extension is a good investment and will continue to add value to their home.
Karen Bell, Creative Director at David Salisbury said: “There is very little difference in terms of functionality between an oak framed orangery and a more traditional painted style. When deciding between the two, much comes down to personal preference but homeowners should also be aware that in larger extensions planning permission may be required and a local planning department may have a view about whether the extension is in keeping with the area’s architecture.”