Quantifying the sensation of temperature : A new method for evaluating the thermal behaviour of building materials

S. R. Bhatta*, K. Tiippana, K. Vahtikari, P. Kiviluoma, M. Hughes, M. Kyttä

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
266 Downloads (Pure)


When touched, dissimilar materials, such as metal and wood, evoke different thermal sensations when both are maintained at room temperature due to the inherent differences in their thermo-physical properties. In this study, we employed psychophysical experiments to quantify the tactile perception of surface temperature using pine wood, oak wood and ceramic floor tile. Twenty-four participants (10 female, 14 male; age 27+- 5 years) took part in the experiment. The results showed that a pine surface at 20.0 ºC feels equally cold to that of an oak surface with a temperature of 20.9 ºC. After increasing or decreasing the oak surface temperature by 1.2 °C (from 20.9 °C) it began to feel, respectively, either warmer or colder than the pine surface at 20 °C. Similarly, the pine surface at 20.0 °C and ceramic tile surface at 22.8 °C evoked an equal sensation of cold and, by raising the temperature of the ceramic tile by 0.9 °C from 22.8 °C, it began to feel warmer than the pine at 20 °C. On the other hand, by decreasing the temperature of the ceramic tile by the same amount (0.9 °C), the pine surface at 20 °C began to feel warmer. The quantification of temperature perception seems to offer a promising approach to precisely evaluating the tactile warmth and thermal behaviour of building materials used in diverse applications. We further discuss how these results might offer insights into how the heating/cooling energy required in buildings might be reduced with the careful selection of construction materials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-32
Number of pages7
JournalEnergy and Buildings
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Building materials
  • Discrimination threshold
  • Tactile warmth
  • The point of subjective equality
  • Thermal behaviour
  • Thermal touch quantification
  • WOOD


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