Verbist, M., Branco, J.M. & Nunes, L. (2020) Characterization of the mechanical performance in compression perpendicular to the grain of insect-deteriorated timber. Buildings, 10,1-14. DOI:10.3390/buildings10010014.
Among biological agents, insect attacks may cause severe degradation of timber structures in the service life of buildings which leads to lower mechanical performance and, thus, maintenance problems over time. Additionally, compression perpendicular to the grain always features a weak spot with respect to the long-term mechanical performance of timber members and joints. In the present work, the respective strength and elastic modulus were thus investigated for insect deteriorated wood. Following a standardized geometry, small samples degraded by anobiids were extracted from beams made of sweet chestnut wood (Castanea sativa Mill.) that were removed from service. Visual assessment of the external wood surfaces was then performed to identify areas infested by insects. Afterwards, destructive monotonic compression tests were carried out perpendicularly to the grain on the damaged area to determine the loss of compressive strength and elastic modulus. The experimental results showed that the loss of compressive strength and elastic modulus might be linearly correlated to the wood density loss for small samples infested by insects. Nonetheless, future work should focus on determining accurately the density loss in the insect-deteriorated part through non- or semi-destructive tests, in order to establish stronger relationships with the mechanical properties loss investigated.