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Timber Post and Beam Homes

Timber frame joinery Many people are unaware that timber post & beam is not exactly the same as traditional timber framing. Oftentimes these two terms are used interchangeably; however, strictly speaking, they represent two different types of timber construction. Riverbend has spent the last four decades specializing in timber framing. Learn how Timber Frame Homes compare to Post and Beam Homes below.


Timber Connections

The primary difference between post and beam home construction and traditional timber framing is found in the wood to wood connections. While both utilize vertical timber posts and horizontal timber beams, traditional framing uses joints cut into the wood, called mortise and tenons, to secure one timber to another.
post and beam vs timber framing
The history of timber framing started long ago, before metal screws, nails, or plates were readily available. So craftsmen would notch out a mortise (hole) in one piece and carve out a tenon (tongue) in the other, then secure the pieces, not with a nail, but with a wooden peg. Riverbend continues this tradition utilizing modern computer-controlled machines to cut precise mortise and tenon joinery.

In contrast, a post and beam connection does not use mortise and tenon joinery. Beams sit flat on top of the posts below, use simple lap joints, or are cut at angles. In order to secure one piece to another, post and beam homes rely on metal connections, such as metal plates and screws. The plates can reside inside the beams, or externally.

Timber Frame Style

Visually, the difference between traditional timber framing and post and beam is found within the artistry of the frame itself. Traditional timber framing was born during the age of tradecraft, when young apprentices would learn how to hand-carve joinery and add decorative flair from timber masters. These frames were not just structural; they were fine works of art. In contrast, post and beam frames favor simplicity in design and construction, and therefore lack the intricate cuts, decorative curves, and visual joinery.

Clients choose Riverbend’s traditional timber framing because of our dedication to craftsmanship and artistry. As part of the process, we will design your frame to fit the overall architectural style of your home. Below are just three examples of how Riverbend has matched the frame to the architectural style.

post and beam homes

View More Photos and Browse Post & Beam Plans For Inspiration


Post & Beam FAQs:

Here are some of the most common questions about post and beam construction, as compared to traditional timber framing. If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to speak with you.

  • Are Post & Beam Homes Stronger Than Timber Framing?

    timber wall pocket Adding steel connectors to post & beam frames will increase the structural strength. However, you can still choose a traditional timber frame in areas with heavy seismic activity like California or within hurricane zones like Florida. Riverbend’s design team will utilize the structural strength of your SIP walls to reach the engineering requirements of your build location. One option is to connect the timbers directly to the wall, as seen in this photo, where the timber truss is pocketed into the SIP wall.

    In some cases we may also incorporate steel Timberlinx connectors inside the the mortise and tenons, and cover them with oak pegs.

  • Is There a Difference In Cost Between Post & Beam and Timber Framing?

    Assuming you are comparing the same dimensions and species of wood, the main cost factors are materials, manufacturing, and on-site labor. The current price of steel will generally have a larger impact on post and beam homes. However, the manufacturing stage, when the mortise and tenon joinery is crafted, adds cost to traditional timber frames. The on-site labor is about the same, whether the crew is fitting mortise and tenons together, or connecting metal plates. At the end of the day, it is more about which look you like best.

  • Can I Use Decorative Metal Accents In My Traditional Timber Frame?

    Metal Tie Timber FrameAbsolutely! If you would like to add some metal to your frame, we can incorporate decorative plates or ties into your design. You may want to ask your Riverbend designer about using truss styles that use metal tie rods, such as a hammer beam (shown) or a barrel truss. There are a number of decorative tie styles that may fit perfectly for the vision you have for your home.

Need More Information?

Whether you’re looking for more information or would simply like to learn more about us and our services, don’t hesitate to contact us. Please follow the link below to access our online form or call us at 888.486.2363 in the US or 888.999.4744 in Canada. We look forward to hearing from you.

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