Choosing Timber Frame or Timber Accent

We are often asked what the difference is between timber frame and timber accent. It’s an important distinction, although both options provide unique ways of enjoying the beauty of wood.

Timber frame structure

Timber Frame is an authentic style of building where structural timbers are used to support both roof and floor loads. In a timber frame home, sometimes wall timbers are integrated within the exterior wall frame, but it always works best when the timbers are completely inside and independent of the exterior wall so that insulation of the wall is not affected. Exterior structures are popular for timber frame cottages and homes because massive, exposed timbers look so impressive.

Home with timber accents

Timber Accent style homes are more traditional in structure and incorporate non-structural components to dress up or add some wow factor to a home. Timber accenting is becoming very popular in many homes because of reduced cost compared to traditional timber frame construction. Additionally, with this approach, the opportunities really are endless.

Which wood?

White pine or white spruce are common where there is a roof protecting the structure, whether for the interior spaces of a home or an outdoor roofed structure. Red pine and Douglas fir are also popular choices.

If there is no roof over the timber frame structure, as in the cases of exterior garden structures or pergolas, white cedar and red cedar are most commonly selected because of their superior rot resistant qualities. Hemlock is also a good exterior grade wood and chosen when extra strength is required.

Regardless of species, it is always a good idea to stain or varnish the wood to protect it from dirt and dust and to keep it looking good. We’re big fans of Timber Pro UV coatings, which have unique water-based formulas with natural oils added to highlight the wood’s grain. (Timber Pro is based in Richmond, British Columbia.)

Locally sourced wood

It’s always best to use local material where possible, but if local material is not available, some of the best construction timbers available are from the standing dead wood forests of British Columbia.

Much of BC’s forest has been devastated by the North American pine beetle, but the resulting dead wood is the perfect material for the construction industry. These trees are naturally air dried, removing the risk of shrinking or warping post-installation. There is also no trace of any beetle because the insects only penetrate a short way into the wood, and this material is removed during the sawing process.

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Find out more

If you’d like to find out more about how Kealey Tackaberry can help you realize your timber frame or timber accented dream home, give us a shout!

4 thoughts on “A Beautiful Debate: Timberframe vs. Timber Accents

  1. That is really nice that timber accenting is popular because of the reduced cost compared to traditional timber frame construction. I know that I really like the look of timber accents. I would love to have timber accents on my home. I wonder if my husband and I could do that. Thank you for the information!

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  2. Nice article about timer frames and timer accents. I didn’t know that timber frames are best when they are independent of the exterior wall because insulation isn’t affected. I’m kind of interested to learn how this can be accomplished or if this design choice is laid out early on in the construction plans.

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    1. Taylor, thanks for your comments! Yes, modifying a set of construction drawings or including foundation detail to support timbers on the inside of the wall is relatively simple. All that’s needed are concrete footings on the inside of foundation. Most residential homes require a number of point loads on the interior, so cost of foundation won’t be impacted as a footing is just needed where there are support posts. Due to the nature of a strong heavy timber frame, the system can sometimes actually require fewer footings compared to a conventional home.

      That being said, it is always best to decide during the design stage if you like structural timber frame or timber accent. When you are ready, we would enjoy the opportunity of taking your vision to the next step. We look forward to hearing from you!

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