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Defining Timber Framing

Posted on Aug 7, 2012
perfect definition of a traditional timber frame truss

As you visit multiple wood home manufacturing websites, and read about various building systems, it sometimes becomes confusing. While the character and beauty seen in a wood home instantly catches the eye, not every wood house uses the same construction methods or building materials. Here are some explanations to help define timber framing from other building styles.

Timber Framing Versus Log Construction

How do we distinguish the difference between timber and log? After all, both materials are wood and both could very well be cut from the same tree. However, when you look at a log home and a timber frame home side by side, the differences stand-out.

Log homes are built by stacking logs on top of one another to create a wall. These logs can be handcrafted, milled round or even square—resembling timbers, but their stacked composition remains the same. In contrast, timber framing’s definition includes using a vertical structural frame skeleton in the home. This frame acts as a support for the home, and is wrapped in a regular wall system as opposed to log walls.

mortise and tenon connections define timber framing
Mortise and tenon connections

Traditional Timber Framing Versus Post and Beam 

Following the thousand year old woodworker’s craft, traditional mortise and tenon joints connect timber framing with adjoining pieces. The art of this craft is that the tenon is cut precisely to fit the mortise hole in each joint. From there, these joints are either pinned or wedged to lock into place.

Another popular method of construction is the post and beam method. In contrast to the interlocking pieces of mortise and tenon joints, post and beam framing uses uncut timbers where a beam sets on a post and is connected with a metal brace.

Riverbend uses traditionally defined timber framing with mortise and tenon joinery in every project. However, the type of wood home you choose is not decided because of what it is called; instead, it is based on how that style resonates with you. For example, you might like the idea of complete log walls. Or, maybe you prefer traditional timber framing supporting your home from within. Knowing the terminology for these building styles isn’t necessary, but it helps your designers understand exactly what you want for your custom home.

Read the differences between timber framing and post and beam construction.

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