Timber Homes can be either Post and Beam or Timber Frame structures. The main difference is in how the timbers are connected to each other. Post and beam typically uses half lap joinery with hidden fasteners, and sometimes decorative metal braces; whereas Timber Frame uses mortise and tenon joinery secured with wooden pegs. The beams of both techniques are fully exposed to the inside of the structure. Timber frame homes are typically much more expensive than post and beam. Precision cut and fitting of the joints is very labor intensive and the primary reason for the cost increase.
The Nitty-Gritty Details in Plain English
The following is a breakdown regarding the differences between timber frame and post and beam structures.
1. Timber Frame structures were originally designed and built as stand-alone structures without utilizing additional framed support or shear components.
2. The Joinery employed with Timber Frame Structures is complex and in many cases, must be engineered to specifically deal with loads generated at different locations within a building.
3. Timber Frame Joinery requires precision fitting and can only be cut by trained craftsmen or CNC (Computer Numeric Control) milling machines.
4. The interior exposure of the timbers in a Timber Frame structure can be visually complex and overbearing due to the density of frame members required.
1. Post and Beam structures utilize both structural and decorative frame elements where needed or wanted. Wood-framed and shear components create the rest of the structural shell.
2. Post and Beam structures allow the building designer a great deal of freedom in developing both interior and exterior space. It is more difficult to design in Timber Frame structures with all the timber frame required for building stability.
3. Post and Beam can mimic the complexity of Timber Frame Structures while utilizing simpler and less expensive joinery and metal fasteners.
4. The erection of Post and Beam structures is fast and efficient. Frame, wall, and roof components are assembled in succession.
Editor’s note: Thank You to Jennifer Hastings and Andrew Williams for writing this article.