There is more research evidence of the health benefits of wood, as decorating with wood reduces stress. It is widely known that wood is an environmentally friendly and sustainable interior design material. But now, the latest research shows that wood also has positive health benefits for human well-being.

Wood is a pleasant and soft interior material that brings nature close and soothes. It has now been proven that using wood in interior design can also reduce stress.

Wooden surfaces reduce stress

Critical properties that have been identified as contributing to stress reduction are the transmission of electricity, light or sound through the tree. The acoustic effects of wood have long been recognised and exploited in concert halls and musical instruments. Wood prevents resonance and wood materials can be used to reduce sound stress levels in public spaces such as schools and kindergartens. In terms of light, wood refracts warm wavelengths of yellow and red light and is therefore perceived as a warm material. In terms of wood's properties, its low thermal and electrical conductivity also contributes to its often being perceived as a material with a pleasant feel.

The variations in stress levels also seem to be influenced by the electrical conductivity of different materials. For example, contact with aluminium, cool plastic and stainless steel at room temperature caused an increase in blood pressure in the body as a stress response. Touching a wooden surface, on the other hand, did not cause a similar reaction. When comparing different workspaces, the lowest stress levels, as measured by skin conductivity, were found in the workroom with wooden furniture. Even green plants introduced into a room with white furniture could not do the same.

Wood is recommended for schools, retirement homes and hospitals

The variation in stress levels in different states has also been studied by monitoring heart rate variations. For example, in a study conducted in a school environment, the stress peak in a wooden classroom decreased faster than in a control classroom where stress levels remained high throughout the day. In a nursing home, the introduction of wood materials improved the elderly's sociability and ability to pay attention to their surroundings. The elderly in the nursing home also experienced an increase in their level of arousal as a result of increased opportunities to touch wooden surfaces and objects.

In a hospital patient room, the right amount of wood material lowered the heart rate and improved mood. The results therefore support the hypothesis that different natural materials have a calming effect on humans. It is therefore reasonable to recommend wood as a decorative material for spaces where people want to feel comfortable and relaxed.


Muilu-Mäkelä R., Haavisto M., Uusitalo J. (2014). Effects of wood materials in interior applications. Metla working reports 320.