Wood for your Timber Frame Home

Wood for your Timber Frame Home

Wood, Wood Everywhere…. But What Kind Do I Use

               So, you’re looking to build a Timber Frame home? If you have no idea what a Timber Frame even looks like or what kind of wood do you want to use for your home. I’m hoping I can help. For starters read my previous blogs and check out our website. As for what kind of wood to use. Well, let me give you a little information on what species and options there are.

Old Renovated Wedding Barn


               In the past most people used whatever was available on hand at the time. It seems that most commonly oak was the prime choice at the time.

In fact, there is a Timber Frame Home from the mid 1600s. That is still standing today. The Fairbanks House in Dedham, Ma

It is the oldest Timber Frame structure in the United States. Around the world many are way older than that. Wood is actually way more durable than people think.


Modern Timbers

               Now that the history lesson is over let’s get to the modern-day stuff. Today you can really use any hardwood you want as timber for your home, the only catch is the price. Today, most of the timbers we use today are Douglass Fir. That’s right, we use a common Christmas tree for massive timber frames. You’re probably thinking, that can’t be right? Douglass Fir is a softwood tree. The truth is… you’re right. Douglass fir does in fact land in the same category as softwoods. However, it is actually extremely durable, holds up to the elements, is harder than you’re thinking, and it grows super-fast and super abundantly. Making it affordable, durable and it looks really good to. Oh, and it smells nice. The point is this is what most people go with because it is the most practical.

               However, you can make your Timber Frame out of whatever kind of structural wood you want. Oak was popular throughout history and still is today, unfortunately it comes with a hefty price tag. Reclaimed Timbers is another popular form of Timbers for a home. Taking the old and putting it in the new. We have worked with all kinds of wood to make timber frames. Just dream it…. and we can make the dream happen.

               Our Log homes are a bit different, again back in the day they made the logs out of what was on hand. Today Cedar is the optimal choice for the resistance characteristics it has to both rot and insects. However, Pine and Douglas Fir work as well.

Crack be Gone, It’s All About the Heart

Free Of Heart Center Timber

               A common question from some people, is will my timbers crack? Well, surprisingly that actually isn’t a simple yes or no question. In short, yes you will have cracks, but the severity of those cracks depends.

               If you’re thinking of using full round logs in your home, expect large cracks to form. If you’re just using timbers and not round logs. There is a chance you will still have large cracks, but we have a trick up our sleeve. This trick helps to prevent bad cracks in your timbers, and it’s all about the heart. Not your heart, don’t worry, the heart of the tree. We are diligent in making sure our timbers are what’s called Free of Heart center. What does this mean?

Timber With Heart Still In

 It means that when the timber is cut it in such a way that the heart of the tree is either on the very edge of the timber or isn’t there at all. When you look at the timber you won’t see any complete rings. Take a peek at the photos for examples. The reason for this is that the heart of the tree is the hardest and the densest part of the tree, the core, it needs to be that strong. So as the wood dries it shrinks, and the way that physics works, the core does not shrink as fast as the outer layers of wood. So, the outer layers squeeze towards the center causing large cracks to appear. Were move that and everything can shrink without cracking. It’s a neat trick, but it needs to be understood that wood is nature, and we can only control it so far, so there is a chance a big crack may appear and there definitely will be some small cracks. To me, that just adds character. If the crack is too bad, we will replace it, because it can cause structural issues. Now, with log homes, things are a bit different. With log homes the heart of the tree is left in. Even on milled logs, that is because rarely do the hearts crack themselves. So the heart provides an air barrier if the rest of the log develops a crack.

 Take Your Pick

               In the end we will do our very best to make your timbers look their very best for a very long time. As for the type of wood to use. Well, that is entirely up to you based on your taste and your budget. There are many cool options, and you can mix and match. A common style is to put Oak on the outside and Douglass Fir on the inside. Makes it look pretty cool. Whatever your home building dreams are, give us a call and we will make your dream a reality!

Get Started with Your New Home Today

Start designing your dream home today! Get in touch with Highline Construction to discuss your vision for your new home!