What is Timber Frame?
As its name implies, timber frame construction is a method of building, which relies on a timber frame as a means of structural support.
Timber frame construction in the UK is based on factory-made structural elements. The timber framed wall panels carry the loads on the building to the foundations whilst the outer cladding provides decoration and weather protection. Cladding is a matter of choice; it can be brick, stone or lightweight claddings, such as timber boarding, tile hanging or render.
Factory production of the timber frame panels ensures that they are accurately manufactured to precise tolerances in a controlled environment away from the unpredictable British weather.
The timber frame panels are quickly erected on site and, with trussed rafters or cut roofs (generally more popular for extensions and complicated roofs), a weather tight building can be produced in a matter of days. This enables work to continue in protected conditions within the building whilst the outer cladding and roof finishes are applied.
Dry construction (as apposed to “wet construction”) not only saves time on site but means that decorations can be carried out soon after completion of the building without risk of cracking and deterioration of finishes.
Timber frame method of construction is the most popular method of building in the developed world due to being tried, tested, engineered and quality assured.
Timber Frame Engineering
Timber frame wall panels are made up of softwood vertical studs and horizontal rails with a wood-based panel sheathing and a plasterboard lining. The studs carry vertical loads through the structure and transfer them to the foundations. The sheathing provides resistance to lateral wind loads (known as racking resistance). Thermal insulation is usually incorporated in the spaces between the studs of external walls and protective membrane materials may also be required, depending on the design of the wall.
For most external walls a breather membrane on the external face of the panels protects the panels during construction and provides a second line of defence against any wind-driven rain that may penetrate the completed external cladding. A vapour control layer in the form of polythene sheet or plasterboard with an integral vapour control layer is normally required on the 'warm' side of the insulation, behind the plasterboard lining to limit the amount of water vapour entering the wall panel.