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Timber Frame

Large wood construction


Through the use of large timbers, the design of a timber frame building ensures that the building’s frame is efficient, allowing little to no temperature transfer between the exterior and interior of the building. In addition, modern timber framed buildings use SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) that span the large spaces between each timber and are known for their superior insulation capabilities. As a result, a timber framed building is a protected envelope, both framed and insulated with high performance materials. In addition, many timber framers are eco-friendly, supporting sustainable forestry and the use of reclaimed lumber.

Timber frame homes are remarkably customizable in design, with the ability to adapt the interior floor plan, illuminate the house with natural light, and make use of drywall. Homes built with a frame of timber have a strong exterior shell which makes customization of interior walls easier than ever. No interior wall is needed to hold the shape of the structure, enabling walls to be placed where desired or for no interior walls to be used at all, creating large open spaces. The strong frame also enables architects to make more use of windows. In addition, drywall can be used on the interior of a SIP which allows for consistent, straight walls, unlike a log built home. This ensures that the structure can be decorated while still presenting a beautiful wood interior.

Timber frame buildings receive a double dose of durability through the use of timbers and the strong mortise and tenon joint design. These structures have withstood earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis. Timber framed buildings also have good fire resistance due to the inherent fire resistance of heavy timber. As a credit to their strength, timbers that have experienced fire can be planed down and reused as structural beams in new designs. These strong and durable timbers are connected by joints known to withstand massive amounts of pressure. The combined strength of the timber and woodworking joints serves to create a structure of extreme strength and long-lasting durability.

Found in archeological sites in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, this woodworking technique has been in use by humans for a long time. Its consistent use historically points to the value and strength that ancient builders had come to rely on. Modern timber frame builders engage this historical technique to build strong structures that beautifully display wood, one of the world’s oldest building materials.


Timber Frame

Timber Frame in Blacksburg, Virginia ©2012 Robin Rogers


  Fire Resistance of Timber Structures NIST 2014 (1,022 kb)

  Heavy Timber Construction 2003 (2,724 kb)