Log vs Timber Frame Homes: What is the Difference?

Log Home vs Timber Frame Home

Log homes and timber frame homes are structures that are built to last. These buildings can potentially last for centuries and are beautiful and dramatic showcases for builders and homeowners alike. In lieu of dimensional lumber, both methods use solid timber construction materials.
These buildings, with their massive timbers and self-supporting frames, do not require structural interior walls for support. A homeowner looking for the utmost in sustainability and long-term durability should consider these types of construction when shopping for a new home.

Terminology

  • Log Building is created from large logs that may be in their natural, round shape or machined into a rectangular form. These members are stacked to create walls, and the timbers interlock at intersections to form strong corners.
  • Post and Beam Building uses upright posts to support horizontal beams. This type of construction uses metal fasteners and brackets.
  • Timber Frame Building incorporates the beauty of furniture construction techniques with the engineering principles of post and beam construction to produce an attractive and strong method of building construction that is generally not covered by drywall, plaster or siding.

Log vs Timber Frame Great RoomLog Homes

Log homes can be constructed with a number of methods to create the exterior walls. Although the final appearance of the structures is similar, the methods used are diverse.

The logs may be fully scribed and require no chinking. These logs are meticulously fitted individually as the structure is built.

Logs may be hewn into rectangular shapes and fitted with commercial chinking that is recessed between the logs as each timber is fitted into place. These timbers are processed and ready for assembly.

Rustic construction will have the chinking applied after the logs have all been fitted in place. A well-constructed log home is energy efficient if all doors, windows and flooring are properly installed and insulated.
Exterior and interior wood finishes can include oil, stains and polyurethane finishes. Chinking that is exposed may need periodic reapplication or sealants to protect the material.

Timber Frame Homes

The craftsman uses mortise and tenon joining methods, along with wooden pegs, to produce building frames that are meant to remain exposed. This wood, in its massive and intricate framework, adds to the beauty and grandeur of the home.

Structural insulated panels are generally used to create the fill between the timber framework. The use of SIP building material minimizes leaks, which helps to control energy loss. These panels have a high R-value and are extremely energy efficient.

Timber framing incorporates an artisan’s approach to construction, and there are many dramatic and intricate framework designs that enhance the beauty of the home. The wood can be finished in a number of methods including hand-hewn, rough sawn, sandblasted, hand planed or planed and oiled.

A log or timber frame house is a style that a potential homeowner will either love or hate. This type of home is not for everyone, but regardless of your personal preference, these structures are certainly impressive. The care and workmanship used in constructing this style of building is exacting and the versatility and durability is undeniable.

One Response to Log vs Timber Frame Homes: What is the Difference?

  1. Larry J Clark September 1, 2012 at 11:35 am #

    Hi Sally,
    Great article. You did a excellent job explaining the structural, fastening and wood differences of bot log and Timber frame. Here in BC Canada, we find that we have to kiln dry our logs here first before we mill them because of the extreme moisture. Western red Cedar works best.
    Our Timbers are cut from ‘clear of center’ Douglas Fir so air drying the timbers works just fine.
    Look forward to reading more of your posts.
    Kind Regards,
    Larry J Clark

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