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  • Leighton Crick

Traditional vs Timber Frame Construction: What Makes It Unique?

Updated: May 3

Timber frame construction is very different from traditional construction. Read on here to learn what makes timber frame construction so unique.


In recent years, up to 90% of new homes utilized wood frame construction.

There are two main types of wood frame construction, stick framing and timber frame. Stick framing is by far the more common choice, but it's not necessarily better than timber frame construction.

Timber frame construction is highly unique and offers a more custom look than stick frame construction. The timber trusses used in timber frame construction are a beautiful architectural element. One that can elevate your home, make it unique and give it a high-end look.

This is just one of the areas where timber frame homes stand out.

Continue reading to find out what makes timber frame construction unique.


You Don’t Need Load Bearing Walls in a Timber Frame Construction

One of the unique benefits of timber frame construction is that you don't need load-bearing walls.

In traditional stick frame homes, there has to be a certain amount of load-bearing walls to support the roof structure. Depending on your home's plans, there might be some areas where you have to place a load-bearing wall, even if you didn't really want a wall in that area.

This puts quite a few limitations on the layout of your interior.

Timber frame construction doesn't have this issue. The timber trusses are the main load-bearing elements. Because of this, you have complete freedom over where you place interior walls.

If you want to have a large open-plan area, you can do this without any limitations around load-bearing requirements. This flexibility allows for unique designs, often featuring large open spaces.

Additionally, if you wish to move interior walls at any point, you can do this without having to worry about whether or not they are load-bearing.


The Framing Process Is Faster

Another way that timber frame construction is unique is it requires very short framing times.

In traditional construction, all the framing is cut and erected on site. Depending on the size of your home, this can take a number of days. If weather conditions don't play along, the framing stage can be drawn out over weeks.

With timber frame construction, all the joints and timber trusses are fabricated offsite ahead of time. In many cases, they can also be preassembled before delivery. This further reduces time on site, reduces exposure to the elements, and ensures a tight fit.

Once the timbers arrive onsite, they can be erected immediately, and in far less time than stick framing. Not only does this save time on the build, but it can also reduce labor costs, wastage, and disposal costs for the builder.

According to analysis, pre-assembled framing shaves days off the framing process. It reduces framing costs by a couple of thousand and labor costs by 33%.

Timber framing is more costly than stick framing. It requires large timber trusses which are more expensive than the thinner lumber used in stick framing. Preconstruction of timber framing also requires expert knowledge and experience.

However, the savings around labor costs can help to offset the higher price of timber framing.


Timber Frame Homes Are Surprisingly Fire Resistant

One of the most surprising benefits of timber framing is that it is uniquely fire-resistant. Contrary to common assumptions, timber trusses are not highly flammable.

Instead, their sheer size and density make them relatively resistant to fire. Thanks to their low thermal conductivity and the charring that occurs, timber frames are far less flammable than stick frames.


Timber Frame Homes Are Very Longlasting

Another unique quality of timber frame homes is they are very long-lasting. The timber trusses used in timber framing are large, thick, solid, and butt into each other.

If the joins have been properly crafted and are tight, there's very little that can damage the structural integrity of timber framing.

Thanks to their carpentered joints and wood pins, timber frames also have more flexibility than stick framing. This makes timber framing more resistant to earth tremors and high winds.


Timber Trusses Can Be a Sustainable Building Material

Besides being long-lasting, timber frame construction is also a uniquely sustainable building model.

Wood is one of few renewable construction materials. As long as new timber is replanted, the construction industry can continue to use wood in the foreseeable future.

What's more, not only is timber a renewable material, but it is also a carbon sink. Timber plantations remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This carbon remains trapped in the timber until such a time that it is burnt or decomposes.

Another benefit of timber is that once it has reached the end of its lifespan, it can biodegrade into the earth once more.


Timber Frame Home Have Great Insulation By Default

Along with being a more sustainable building model, timber frame homes can also be more energy-efficient.

In stick-framed homes, you can opt for a variety of insulation. However, timber frame homes usually require structural insulated panels (SIPs) between the frames.

SIPs have enhanced insulation properties. If installed properly and combined with other technologies SIPs can reduce home energy use by up to 70%. Because of this, SIPs are predicted to be a core component of the Department of Energy's zero-energy home concept.


Timber Frame Homes Are Incredibly Beautiful

Timber frame homes have a lot of practical advantages. But they are also highly unique from a design perspective. Timber frame homes are beautiful, striking, and architecturally interesting.

Instead of looking builder grade and run-of-the-mill (like a lot of homes do nowadays), timber frame homes stand out. They give off a custom, high-end, look. The soaring framework draws the eye upward, and the thick roof trusses give off a luxurious, bespoke feeling.

What's more, timber frame homes can also work with a lot of design styles. Whether you're going for a ranch house feel, a mountain lodge effect, or a wabi-sabi, organic, or minimal design style—timber framing will act as the perfect architectural backdrop.


Are You Considering Timber Frame Construction for Your Home?

Timber frame construction utilizes ancient carpentry techniques with modern approaches to create strong, durable homes imbued with inherent architectural beauty.

After learning all of this, are you considering timber trusses for your home? Grand Traverse Timber Frame is a leader in timber frame construction with decades of experience under our tool belts.

We do timber framing for residential, commercial, and municipal structures. Including barns and sheds, cottages, lakeshore homes, boathouses, pavilions—you name it. We also do pergolas, arbors, custom stairs, porch covers, and more.

We offer fully engineered structural or decorative pre-assembled installation, available in a choice of timber dimensions and wood species.

Contact us today to discuss your timber frame build.

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