Choosing the Best Insulation for Timber Frame Homes

Hamill Creek   |   Jan 12, 2024

One of the first images that pop up for most people when you mention timber frame homes is a cabin in the snow. Timber homes and cold weather go hand in hand. But there is a big difference between an uninsulated log cabin and a well-insulated timber frame home utilizing modern timber frame insulation options.

At Hamill Creek, we are knowledgeable and experienced in custom timber frame design and insulation for cold climates. We can answer all of your questions about timber frame insulation options and help you pick the ideal one for your application. Contact us now to learn more.

Types of Insulation for Timber Frame Construction

Whether you are looking for insulation for large timber homes or small, you only have a few main options to choose from. These include:

SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels):

SIPs are made to both insulate and provide structural support. They consist of insulating foam between two pieces of oriented strand board. They are custom-made to fit spaces based on architectural plans. Our specialty is SIPs, although we can also design homes to utilize other insulation options.

  • Advantages:
    • Custom-fit saves on labor, sometimes as much as 50 and 60 percent.
    • Fast to install
    • Minimize heat leaks in winter, making the home more energy efficient and saving on energy costs.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Higher up-front cost
    • Difficult to modify later

Conventional Wood Framing and Insulation:

Timber frame home construction can utilize conventional wood framing and insulation techniques.

  • Advantages:
    • Less expensive than other options
    • Lots of design flexibility
  • Disadvantages:
    • Covers up the timber inside, which defeats the purpose of a timber frame home
    • Labor intensive


Made from the hemp plant, hempcrete is heavy and dense, which makes it an excellent insulator.

  • Advantages:
    • Renewable resource
    • Excellent thermal mass
    • Lets moisture escape
  • Disadvantages:
    • Lacks the strength of standard concrete
    • Limited availability
    • Potential issues with getting permitting depending on location

Straw Bale:

Straw Bale uses straw bales to provide excellent insulation using a renewable resource.

  • Advantages:
    • Renewable resources from grain production
    • Great insulation
  • Disadvantages:
    • Sensitive to moisture and must be protected from mold and rot
    • Don’t provide a lot of structural support

Things to Consider About Timber Frame Insulation Options

The right insulation for your home depends on a variety of factors, including your climate, location, and personal preferences. Here are some things to consider when making your decision:


R-value is a measurement of a material’s ability to restrict the flow of heat. The higher the R-value, the better the better the insulation in general—although there are caveats. For example, the R-value of fiberglass batt insulation can go down over time as the material settles or gets dirty. 

It’s always important to consider the R-value, but it’s also important to analyze how the R-value in each material can change depending on conditions.

Location of Insulation

Timber frame homes are known for their beauty. You can sit inside them and view all the beautiful timber around you—but only if it’s not covered with insulation. That’s why it’s generally best to insulate these homes from the outside. We prefer using SIPs because of this fact.

Moisture Management

Moisture is the enemy of insulation. Once it gets wet, it tends to stop working as well. Builders have to prioritize moisture management with materials like fiberglass batt insulation and straw bales to keep them operating as intended. The nice thing about SIPs is the foam used is highly effective at repelling moisture.

Fire Resistance

Timber frame homes can and will burn if not properly protected. Ensuring the fire resistance of insulation is very important because of this.


Some insulation options are more expensive to use than others. For example, SIPs require a high initial up-front investment.

Vapor Retarder

Vapor retarders can help prevent condensation within the insulation. Depending on what option you choose, you might need to apply an additional vapor retarder.

Air Sealing

Drafts cause heat loss. Air sealing is important in timber frame homes to keep heat in and cold out.

Find the Ideal Insulation Options for Timber Frame Construction

The details of your timber frame home matter. The right insulation can make living in the home comfortable and enjoyable. Let us help you choose the insulation that will guarantee optimal comfort and longevity.

Looking for experts to build your timber frame home? Contact us today for more information on construction, design, and how to get started on picking insulation for a cold climate.

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