MATERIALS FOR MAIN STRUCTURES
Northmen Homes uses only natural materials for building. The main material is wood. We use Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) and Norway spruce (Picea abies) for the main structures which have proven themselves as strong, long lasting, aesthetic and traditional choice of wood. For some parts and projects we use also White oak (Quercus robur). We cut the trees only in winter time thus getting the highest quality logs. In winter the trees are sleeping and there is a minimum activity inside them. We cut the trees by the new moon rising. That is the time when the wood has the smallest amount of water inside it. Wood from the trees cut in winter by the new moon rising has the tendency to become harder over years. Over 100 years the softwood has the attributes and quality like hardwood. This is how it was done by our grandfathers and we are following their rule that the timber must be prepared only in winter time.
Norway spruce freshly cut down.
We use natural materials for the roofs. There are several options:
- shingles made from White oak or Syberian larch;
- slate or clay tiles;
- thatched roof.
White oak shingles are very unique and great choice for the roof. The wood of White oak has special membranes called tyloses which doesn’t let the water in them thus preventing the wood from any damage. White oak has been used in building ships for centuries because of its strength, durability and water resistance. The lifespan of these roofs are longer than average human lifespan which is 80 years. If the roof is maintained correctly it will be everlasting.
Roofs made from shingles will keep your roof structure and attic cooler in the summer by 28°F (~15°C). The pores in the wood works as an insulation so shingles will help keeping your home not only cooler in the summer but also warmer in the winter. The white oak shingle roof is also very resistant to big storms because it can withstand wind speed of 152 mph (245 km/h or 68 m/s).
We use the highest quality shingles made only from the heartwood with straight parallel fiber and without any knots, cracks or other damages.
Swedish slate tiles.
Slate is one of the oldest roof and siding materials. It was used already in the 15th century for castles, palaces, manor houses and other presentable buildings. The synonym from Latin language is “eternit” which means that this material will serve the house for a long time. It can live up to 250-300 years as a roof material. The age of natural stone slate is from 350 to 700 million years old. It depends on the place and depth from where it is excavated. The slate can be in various colors from dark grey to iron oxide orange.
Natural slate is good material for any type of roofs including the ones with plastic forms and curves because the slate is relatively flexible material and can be bent into the needed curve. The slate is also preventing any appearance of condensate in the roof structure because it can take in and give away a large amount of humidity. The mechanical strength of the natural slate is very similar to cast iron.
White oak shingles.
Thatched roof is one of the oldest roofs. Our grandfathers believed that thatched roofs had their own soul and character. It looks aesthetic and fits in any kind of landscape. We use reed (Phragmites australis) for thatched roofs. It is harvested on lakes during winter time when they have no leaves. We use reeds from the lakes closer to the sea because there they are tougher and thinner thus being more resistant to rain, freeze, snow and wind.
Thatched roofs have great sound and heat insulation because of the pores in the reeds. Roofs made from reeds are about 6-7 lb/ft² (30-35 kg/m²) which is pretty light so it doesn’t need a heavy roof structure. The average thickness of thatched roofs is 12″ (30 cm) and the water gets in only in the upper 1 inch (2-3 cm). Thatched roofs are very dense and that is why they actually are very fireproof.
Some old (few older than 100 years) thatched roofs from Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum:
For insulation we offer three natural materials:
- wood fibre;
- sheep wool;
- hemp fibre.
Sheep wool insulation.
We offer natural materials also for the foundations. We have professional masons who are building traditional foundations from boulders and stones which will withstand many centuries.
Building stone foundations.