Part of Historic Environment Scotland

Conservation of timberwork

Learn about the properties, use and conservation of one of Scotland's most widely used building materials.



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5 weeks


17 February - 23 March 2020

Study time

Taught:5 days


As a stand-alone short course:£420


Looking for a related qualification? Learn about our Accredited Diploma that can be taken part-time or full time.

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Blocks of timber in a pile


Timber is one of Scotland's most significant traditional building materials. It has a rich history, from cruck frame houses to decorative internal timbers, and is used across a range of building features, including:

  • structural material (roofs, lintels, beams and joists etc)
  • windows
  • shutters
  • door sets
  • fireplace surrounds
  • staircases
  • exterior decorative features

What you will learn

This short course will provide you with an introduction to the essential biology of timber used in Scotland over the centuries. We will trace its sources from early samples of Scottish origin to imports from the Baltic states and North America.

Examine timber's physical properties, its natural weathering and decay processes, and its resilience to man-made damage or interference. You will learn about the complex issues surrounding decay caused by wet and dry rots, and current best practice methods to remove and prevent fungal problems in timber.

You will also hear about current conservation principles and how to undertake appropriate repairs, from an initial survey, through to specification, procurement and on-site repair of existing or installation of new material – all according to best current principles of best conservation practice.

Topics covered

  • Scottish timberwork and timber types
  • Key structural components
  • Timber decay and defects
  • Structural timber repair options
  • Finishing joinery
  • Finishing repair options
  • Construction design management & sitework consideration
  • Timber sash & case windows

Course content

Short courses offer the opportunity to learn about building conservation through lectures, workshops and site visits.

Classes, lectures and presentations

Students benefit from attending classes and lectures taught by national and international experts. Forthcoming lectures are to be confirmed.

Previous speakers have included:

Hands-on workshop/lab activities

Students are often offered the opportunity to take part in hands-on workshops or lab activities as part some short courses.

On this short course, you can participate in workshops on traditional joinery techniques including cutting splices, joints and decorative carving.

Potential site visits

Students have the opportunity to participate in site visits. These vary from one year to another.

Previous site visits for this course have included:


Although our short courses are not formally assessed, students will be awarded a certificate upon successfully completing this course.

A formal qualification can be obtained by studying our Advanced Professional Diploma on Technical Building Conservation. 

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