You’ve decided to build an energy-efficient, classic and luxurious timber frame home, but now there are important decisions to make. One of these is: what type of wood should you use? Your key considerations when choosing timbers for timber framing should be available in your region, suitability, sustainability, and of course, cost. In this article, we’ll discuss the various kinds of timber species that are best suited for timber frame home construction.
What Wood is More Sustainable to Use?
On the question of sustainability, the best type of timber frame lumber will depend to a large extent on your timber frame home builder and how their timber is sourced. At Hamill Creek Timber Homes, we use cedar, fir and spruce varieties, all of which are very sustainable species. Our wood all comes from local forests in the British Columbia region, where we’re headquartered, and it is harvested under the most stringent rules to support long-term sustainability.
Each species of timber has its unique properties:
Cedar is very resistant to rot and bugs and strong for its weight. Cedarwood is an excellent choice for timber components that are exposed to the weather.
BC Douglas Fir is one of the strongest softwood lumbers and is highly sought after around the world for construction use, due to its high strength properties. A Douglas Fir timber frame provides outstanding longevity with beautiful grain patterns. It’s also a highly desirable wood to use for trim. Douglas Fir is widely available in the Pacific Northwest.
Spruce is a lighter colored wood, blonde in appearance. It has a high strength capacity, right after Douglas fir, which makes a spruce timber frame extremely durable.
Other wood species that are commonly used as timber for building construction include Eastern White Pine, Red Oak and White Oak. Eastern White Pine, while not as strong as Douglas Fir, is native to the region between Minnesota and Newfoundland, along the Appalachian Mountains and Mississippi basin. Red Oak grows from Nova Scotia to the Great Lakes and down to Georgia, and White Oak is found between Texas and Quebec, and from the Eastern U.S. to Minnesota.
Speak to your timber home builder about the timber species that are native to your area and ask them how the wood is sourced.
What Wood is More Cost-Effective?
When it comes to timber frame construction, cheaper isn’t always better—or cost-effective. The most economical choice, in the long-run, is a wood species that will be the most durable, long-lasting and suitable for your environment. There are many ways to keep costs down when building a timber frame home. The most important is to use an experienced builder that can recommend the best wood for your location and application—preferably a locally available species.
Another way to keep the timber frame cost low is to purchase a timber frame home kit and choose a simpler style. Hamill Creek provides elegant and cost-effective timber frame homes for every budget, from a basic timber frame kit to a complete turnkey package.
Hamill Creek also offers a wide range of timber frame products, from exterior frames to vertical and horizontal exterior siding, wide plank flooring, tongue and groove decking, interior and exterior door and window trim, windows, doors, wall and roof enclosures and moldings. We have the expertise to recommend certain types of wood for specific uses in your home.
What Wood Has a Longer Lifespan?
The lifespan of your timber frame has as much to do with how the wood is prepared as with the type of wood. The moisture content of the wood should be less than 20 percent, to minimize shrinkage and expansion due to temperature variances. Both air drying and kiln drying are used to prepare freshly harvested timber for timber frame construction. For timber frame components that are exposed to the outdoors, maintenance is also important, as is proper ventilation and insulation.
Choosing the right timber for your location is very important, both from an economic perspective and to support sustainable construction practices. A professional timber frame home builder such as Hamill Creek, with many years of expertise, can give you valuable information to help you make the smartest choices for your new timber home.
Contact us today with your project ideas and partner with us to create the custom timber home of your dreams!