Timber Framing 101
Modern design meets traditional craftsmanship in today’s timber frames.
Atimber home is a kind of house that uses a frame structure of large posts and beams that are joined with pegs or by other types of decorative joinery. Almost always, the walls of the structure are positioned on the outside of the timber frame, leaving the timbers exposed for visual effect.
Timber framing is strong, old and so well-established that they used to just call it building. It forms the basis of a building that will last for hundreds of years. One of the big advantages of timber-frame construction is that it is so strong it doesn’t need load-bearing walls cutting through the middle of the house, so you can design the layout in any configuration you want, including a totally open great room/dining room/kitchen/entry. On the other hand, in open designs, the frame connects the volumes and brings them down to a more human scale due to the warmth of the wood and the joinery.
The skeleton of timbers also can be covered any way you want, so your timber home can look like any other style of house and can fit in anywhere.
HOW ARE LOG & TIMBER HOMES DIFFERENT
Timber frames are often confused with, but are quite different from log homes. The main distinction between log homes and timber homes is how they use the wood. As a result, they achieve sharply different looks. And because timber homes can use a variety of exterior materials having nothing to do with the inside, they may not be recognizable as timber frame homes, whereas log homes are always identified as such.
In general, log homes have a horizontal profile and timber homes are vertical. These tendencies result from the way to logs are laid and the frame is raised. See more about how timberframe homes are built in the “Build” section, beginning on page 36.
BENEFITS OF TIMBER FRAMING
Beyond the aesthetics of exposed timber and open floor plans, timber structures enjoy a durability unmatched by conventionally-built homes. They also provide more structural integrity in the unfortunate event of fire damage, as the large timber supports are more resistant to burning completely through than the thinner cuts of wood that make up conventional building structures. Finally, a timber home affords the owner opportunity to make a bold design statement, as timbers come in a number of sizes, shapes and colors. A timber home can take on a casual or rustic mountain style, an ornate Victorian style, the more restrained feel of a classic New England home, or any style in between.
Timber homes are versatile and — because you can use any exterior material on a timber frame — can look good in any setting.
ABOVE: Timber homes are sturdy and strong, but the frames are raised quickly. LEFT: Timber frames lend themselves to open layouts, allowing for unlimited design flexibility, cathedral ceilings and the option to eliminate load-bearing interior walls....