Wood Bridges – Materials and Plans Lumber Talk.com: Professional-Level information and how-to-build articles for wood, timber, and lumber professionals and users. Wood Bridges – Materials and Plans » Lumber Talk
By Chris | October 21, 2008 - 7:51 am - Posted in Big Timbers, Plans, Structural Components, Treated Wood

Wood bridges offer ways of crossing natural settings with structures that fit the surroundings.? Although wood bridges are not practical for every application they are perfect for many – affordable, simple, durable, and beautiful.

Affordable:? Depending on the design, wood bridges can be built for as little as 1/3 the cost of steel and concrete bridges and have lower maintenance costs as well. Building wood bridges over crossings might be a great way for landowners and small municipalities to save money as well as add aesthetic value to their byways.

Simple:? Many practical wood bridge designs require less skilled labor (no welders or concrete workers and smaller equipment) to assemble and less time than steel and concrete bridges.? Simplicity equates to a savings of time and money.

Durable:? Effectively designed and constructed wood bridges should easily last 50 years and there are many that have been in services for much longer than that. Wood treatments and coatings available today should protect the foundational structure of a bridge so it will last virtually forever.

Materials for Wood Bridges

Like any project, wood bridges will last longer when built with three major components in mind.

  • Quality Design
  • Quality Materials
  • Quality Construction

We will focus on quality materials for wood bridges here.? You can buy bridge plans or have yours custom engineered and you can hire a bridge building company, local contractor, or build the bridge yourself with the proper design and instructions.

Use properly treated wood for your bridge components, especially for the pilings and other foundation materials.? .60 pcf treated wood should be sufficient for most locations but if you are building around saltwater, you should probably use a stronger treatment for the foundation components – especially if the bridge will actually be in contact with saltwater.

To add longevity to your bridge use poly coated wood like the stuff from American Pole And Timber (they also have a full line of bridge timbers and bridge decking) for all of the ground contact components.? It is sprayed onto treated wood before installation and provides an extra layer of protection that should easily add another 25 years to the wood (at least). It actually bonds to the wood but you can still cut, nail, or drill into it.? It is really good stuff – initially designed for use on saltwater marine pilings (where is has a 25 year warranty).

Your wood bridge’s hardware should all be stainless steel, galvanized, or zinc coated.? There are other special hardware coatings out there but stainless, galvanized, and zinc are proven and affordable.

Plans for Wood Bridges

Buy Wood Bridge Plans Online:? There are numerous places to buy wood bridge plans online – so many, that I will not even link to them here.

Bridge Plans from Competition:? Here are some great bridge designs and plans I found recently. It is a wood bridge building competition for University-level engineering students. “The? National Timber Bridge Design Competition? is open to student chapters of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and Forest Products Society (FPS) in the United States and Canada. Joint or cooperative entries (ASCE and FPS working together) are eligible and even encouraged. A chapter may also submit multiple entries.”

The young folks in this competition come up with some creative, effective, and practical designs for wood bridges.? You might be able to apply a few of them to your wood bridges. Note:? That is not a suggestion to copy the designs or use them directly as reliable and tested plans but there are some great ideas there.

Book about How to Build Wood Bridges:? This is a really nice book that has some designs and plans for building wood bridges as well as plans for building other wood projects.

Wood bridges can certainly be built as a diy project. Please make sure you have your bridge professionally designed, though, or at least hire a professional contractor to help you. Using the right materials will not only improve the safety of your structure but will ensure that your bridge will be long-lasting as well. Wood bridges should be built to last – they should stand as legacies to be used for generations to come. That might sound nostalgic or something but, well, I guess it is.

1 Comment

  1. October 23, 2008 @ 12:33 pm


    […] These sites and pages about covered bridges relate perfectly to the last LumberTalk post about wood bridges. […]

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