Selecting the Best Timber Framing System for Your Home

Timber frames have been a common method of construction for many years. Especially in areas where conifer trees are prevalent, timber framing has traditionally been the preferred method for designing homes and other structures.

During timber framing, builders use structural frames that are made of a timber foundation. The timber can then be filled in with other materials to complete the structure. If you're thinking about timber framing for your home/building, there are several important factors to consider.

The type of frame you choose will be determined by the foundation, the roof framing, how the beams intersect, and the walls. Lets look at some of the most commonly used timber frames.

Open-panel systems

Open-panel systems are the most basic form of timber frames. They consist of timber panels fixed to sheets of plywood or an oriented strand board. The plywood/board supplies the necessary sturdiness and rigidity to the structure. The network of the timber frames and the plywood make what is called the open-panel.

The open-panel frame is then wrapped around the outside, after which a waterproof barrier is added. The external wall elements can now be added to the frame, and the structure can be built from the ground up using brick or stone.

In modern construction designs, a timber frame factory can produce these open panels, leaving room for doors, windows, flooring elements and roof trusses. 

Closed-panel systems

Open-panel systems are flexible and convenient options. However, they still leave a lot of work unfinished, and it can be time consuming to come up with the finished product. This problem is addressed by using closed-panel systems.

With a closed panel, the timber wall frames are pretty much finished in the factory, and all that is left to install are the floors and the roof. Therefore, closed panel systems have the frame and the walls already finalized.

Structural Insulated Panels

Also referred to as SIPs, these panels are insulated and built to create a sturdy shell. SIPs are constructed for people desiring higher levels of insulation and an airtight structure. On top of the basic timber frame are these resilient structural insulated panels that are tightly integrated into the main structure.

It can be difficult to identify where the timber frame is present in such structures, but it is normally encased within the insulation panels.

How to choose?

Selection comes down to personal preference. Open panels are the most affordable and authentic-looking timber frames available. On the other hand, closed panel and SIPs are more insulated and airtight, providing higher energy efficiency.

In addition, better construction methods are drastically reducing the cost of open panel vs other more complex systems.

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