So what is the difference between Timber Frame and Post and Beam construction? Each building style holds its own characteristics and benefits that sway people from choosing one from another. Although each building style has several defining traits, one can help you distinctly identify the difference between Post and Beam over Timber Frame structures.
The main difference between Timber Frame v.s Post and Beam is the connection method. A true Timber Frame structure uses precisely cut and fitted mortise and tenon joinery, secured with wooden pegs. In contrast, Post and Beam construction use metal fasteners and sometimes decorative metal brackets where the timbers are connected.
The joinery is merely the start point that leads to a variety of differences and benefits between the two construction methods. Let’s dive into the distinct factors that can help you define Timber Frame v.s Post and Beam.
Timber Frame v.S Post and Beam
Timber Frame Characteristics
1.) Precision Fitting and Wood to Wood Connection
Timber Frames require precision fitting only possible by a CNC (Computer Numeric Control) milling machine or a trained craftsman. As mentioned before a true timber frame structure is secured through mortise and tenon joinery
2.)Durability and Long Lifespan
If kept dry, an adequately made Timber Frame structure can last for centuries. Timber Frame joinery will flex slightly without losing structural integrity in the cases of foundation shifts or earthquakes.
This is one reason traditional wood to wood Japanese architecture has lasted for thousands of years, enduring multiple earthquakes throughout the structure’s lifespan.
3.) More Expensive
In most cases, Timber Frame structures are more expensive due to high labor-intensive precision-cut fitting, aesthetic appeal such as personal hand finishing, and long-lasting durability benefits.
Post and Beam characteristics
1.) Uses Metal Joinery
Post and Beam structures use both structural and decorative metal materials where the timbers are secured.
2.) Cheaper and Less labor-intensive
The cost to build a Post and Beam structure can be significantly less due to the decreased labor-intensive methods to develop the joinery. One thing that can drive up the cost is the type of timbers chosen and/or adding decorative metal brackets.
3.) Less Complex
Post and Beam can mimic the complexity of Timber Frame structures without enduring the heightened cost difference or requiring highly skilled design labor. Many individuals decide on Post and beam strictly due to the aesthetic appeal of the metal joinery.
4.) Lower Quality Material Substitutes
In some cases, individuals choose to use manufactured beams such as glulam beams (Glued laminated timbers) to lower their project’s overall cost.
Manufactured beams are of lower quality than true timbers in which they are trying to mimic. In some cases, glulam beams tend to peel or scratch easy, decreasing the structure’s aesthetic appeal.
When choosing between Timber Frame v.s Post and Beam, understanding your upcoming project’s goals is the most crucial place to start. You may also want to choose a hybrid option mixing the two building styles throughout your home or commercial structure. If you’re planning on building a new home or commercial structure, here is a great checklist to ensure you have your ducks in a row throughout the process.
Being unprepared or not knowing key concepts when starting a build is the easiest way to delay your ideal project deadline or finish over budget. Please feel free to reach out to our project managers with any questions you might have about how to start your upcoming build.