‘Shiver me Timber (Framings)!’
There are two essential components to having a strong, durable house. The first one is having a good foundation. The second one is having a good framing. So today we will be going into detail regarding Timber Framings.
First let’s get some definitions out of the way. ‘If it is made out of wood, why is it called a Timber framing?’ In the broadest sense the term ‘Timber’ refers to the wood at any stage after the tree has been felled. However it is most commonly used to refer to wood that is used for building houses and making furniture. You might also have heard the term ‘Lumber’ which originally referred to sawn planks but has come to mean wood that’s been processed for use as a building material. Nowadays both the terms ‘Timber’ and ‘Lumber’ are used interchangeably.
Wood frame construction is one of the oldest and most widely used methods to build residential, industrial and commercial buildings in the world. In the case of residential buildings, a timber home is a house that uses a frame structure comprised of large vertical posts and horizontal beams to form cross sections called bents that are joined with pegs or other types of decorative joinery, while other components provide support, bracing and structure to the frame.
These structures are sometimes referred to as post-and beam framing, while other times it is simply called timber framing. Basically this has to do with the method used to fasten the joinery system together. A post-and-beam home uses metal fasteners which are generally hidden behind the timbers or facing the interior so they won’t be visible. Timber framing however uses only wooden pegs to secure the frame’s joinery so they will not visually interfere. Using one or the other will both depend and determine the look and feel you want to give your home’s interior.
Now, there are quite a number of advantages to building your home using timber framing, which we will discuss next.
The first and most obvious one is that timber is a renewable resource, therefore making it eco-friendly.
One of the main advantages of timber-frame construction is that it is so strong that it doesn’t need load-bearing walls cutting through. This can be translated in both versatility and durability. Timber can be bent into specific required shapes, connected to other materials and more. This allows you to design a layout in practically any given configuration.
Also, many types of timber can withstand harsh weather conditions, providing great thermal insulation which offers residents a high degree of comfort. Time performs better than steel or brick to help keep the heat in while also absorbing carbon and offsetting greenhouse gasses, making the structure much more efficient and eco-friendly. This insulation can also extend to sound as the timber frame walls have excellent acoustic performance.
Then there’s the cost, which is also directly related it’s speed of build. This will, of course, vary on the scale of the house, but timber is generally cheaper than steel framed buildings. This is partially to the speed of construction as it requires less on-site labour, less material and labour waste and lower site and office overheads. All of these factors contributing to save time and money.
As mentioned earlier Timber frames are eco-friendly as it is the most sustainable form of construction. Lowest embodied CO2 of any building materials, being organic, non-toxic and renewable; benefits that continue through the lifetime of the property as it creates a very energy-efficient home: offering a warmer living space and a reduction in energy consumption.
Of course, like everything else in life there are some disadvantages too:
Moisture and heat will always have an impact on the materials. In the care of Timber frames it might shrink or swell as it has the ability to absorb water, therefore it should always be suitably treated depending on its use and exposure. If it is left exposed to water it can potentially rot and hamper its integrity.
As a recommendation, one should try to maintain the very same temperature all-year round, so humidity does not vary and the frame remains unaffected.
Condensation might also be a problem. This can happen with any type of structure and it occurs when warm air from the inside touches a cold wall. If it happens to a structure which has a timber frame it can rot the skeleton of the building so it is extremely important that it has been well insulated.
There might also be a problem with termites and other insects so one has to be on the lookout for those too, and act accordingly.
Finally if a fire breaks out a timber framed house will not be able to withstand the heat and flames like other structures do. You can always treat your house with fire retardants which slow down the spread of flames and reduces the production of smoke.
Now that we have seen the pros and cons, we will talk a little about the two most commonly used types of wood for timber-framed homes. These are pine and cedar.
First comes pine which is a very strong softwood that allows for a great flexibility and versatility, making it easy to work with while also providing structural strength. Given how abundant it is in the United States and that it is more affordable than oak, it makes it a great choice for home construction. Pine tends to be lighter in color, which ranges from white to golden to cream, with darker streaks. The grain also separates which gives it a different, unique appearance.
Then comes cedar, which is also a softwood but one of a tougher variety. It provides a bit more durability as well as a bit of rot and pest resistance, which makes it a great choice for constructions featuring exposed timber. It has a warmer and richer color and holds up well against the weather. Its aromatic oil wards off insects, therefore protecting it from termites and other critters, although it as a bit more expensive than pine.
All in all timber framing is a great choice for your home, featuring many advantages to it. Not in vain it is still the most widely used construction method around the world. Just a few years ago Norway created the tallest all-timber building in the world, the Mjøstårnet, reaching 18 stories high!
In the end, whatever type of wood and and style you choose for your home just remember that, as we said at the start, the frame is one of the two essential components to a strong, durable house. And while we might not handle framing, if there’s ever anything wrong with your other essential component, which is your foundation, please, don’t hesitate to call us!