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Defining Timber Framing

As you visit multiple wood home manufacturing sites and read about various building systems and each company’s definition for them, it can get confusing understanding all the industry terminology. While the character and beauty seen in a wood home instantly catches the eye and sets these structures apart from conventional stick framing, not every wood house is built using the same methods or materials. Here are some explanations to help decipher one building style from the next.

Timber Framing Versus Log Construction

How do we distinguish the difference between timber and log? Both materials are wood and both could very well be cut from the same tree. However, when you take a look at a log home and a timber frame home side by side, the difference is easy to see. A log home is 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, a timber frame home uses a vertical structural frame skeleton. Focused more internally, this frame is a support for the home and is wrapped in a regular wall system as opposed to log walls.

Timber Connections

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 timber framing is the post and beam method. In contrast to the interlocking pieces of mortise and tenon joints, post and beam framing uses uncut timbers to each other where a beam sits on a post and are connected with a metal brace.

Riverbend uses traditional timber framing with mortise and tenon joinery in every project, but ultimately, the type of wood home you choose to build is not decided because of what it is called, it is based on how that style resonates with you. You might like the idea of complete log walls or maybe you’d prefer to see traditional timber framing holding your home together from within. Knowing the correct terminology for these building styles isn’t necessary, but it can help your designers pinpoint exactly what you want for your future home.