english timber frame houses

English Timber Frame Houses

english timber frame houses

One of the oldest building techniques known, timber frame houses are built to last. Often featuring wide-open floor plans, timber frame homes are perfect for today’s homeowners who enjoy a casual yet luxurious living experience.

The basic technique of timber framing dates back to medieval times. It remains the basis for English half-timbered houses (where the structural timbers show on the filled and stuccoed exterior).


English timber frame houses have a long tradition dating back hundreds of years. If you’ve ever been to a castle or a medieval town in Europe, chances are you’ll have seen a house built using timber framing.

In most cases, these houses were constructed with large vertical posts in the sills that were tied together with horizontal beams called plates. The rafters were set on the uppermost pairs of plates and the walls between them were filled in with wattle-and-daub, brick or rubble. This was a form of half-timbering and is the basis of the building style known as half-timbered.

The structural timbers were then covered in a layer of plaster, laths, brick or stone to create the interior and exterior walls. This method of cladding the timbers was referred to as ‘ceiling’ and it was widely used for both residential and commercial buildings in England, Scotland and Wales.

While the technique is centuries old, it is still a common construction technique today. Many of the houses that have been erected in this way have remained largely unchanged since their inception.

During the Middle Ages, timber framing became popular throughout Europe and the British Isles. It was particularly common in southern Germany, France and parts of Switzerland and Belgium.

One of the main reasons for this popularity was that wood was available locally and was inexpensive to cut and ship. Another reason was that a management system for woodland had developed during this time and it meant that society could use the trees and logs for both building and firewood.

Another factor in the popularity of timber framing was its ability to provide a spacious internal floor plan and it was therefore ideal for a wide range of uses such as farmhouses, barns, and other buildings. In addition, it was possible to build the floors with shorter joists and beams than were possible in the case of a traditional masonry wall.

This was particularly the case for upper floors in timber framed houses. For this reason, a technique known as jettying was often employed in which the joists and beams were joined together in a single plane. This allowed a greater number of rooms to be created in lower floors and also facilitated the creation of larger upper floors.


The English timber frame house is one of the most common styles of buildings across Europe. It’s a style of home construction that dates back thousands of years and remains popular even with the introduction of more advanced building materials.

The timber frame is a form of construction that involves putting together large pieces of wood using mortise-and-tenon joints. It’s a building method that doesn’t use nails or adhesives, and it can be used for many different types of buildings.

Although some early English timber frame houses are known for their intricate details, most remained relatively simple. They typically have a two-room central-chimney plan and are constructed of sills, posts, plates, girts, and bridging or binding beams.

These are often topped with a roof that is part of the house’s structural system. The roof can be either attached to the house frame or it can stand on top of it.

Another characteristic of the English timber frame is the use of regularly spaced studs. These studs are located between the corner and chimney posts, and they help to provide vertical support for exterior horizontal boarding (such as wattle-and-daub).

In addition to providing a strong structure, the studs of a timber frame can also serve to contain the building’s insulating components, such as a straw bale roof or a rammed earth system. In these cases, the studs can be protected from the elements by means of a lime wash or an insulated render coat.

However, it is possible that in areas with particularly severe weather conditions, the studs of a timber-framed house could be vulnerable to water penetration. Therefore, it’s important to understand the methods employed by architects to avoid the possibility of this occurring.

While most First Period houses are timber-framed, some were constructed of brick or stone. This is because, in some parts of the country, these materials were more readily available than wood. These buildings are often known as “colonial” or “pre-Revolutionary” houses, and can be identified by their decorative and structural features.


Timber frame houses are framed from large load-bearing hand-hewn or milled timbers that are joined horizontally or vertically using mortise and tenon joints. These beams are surrounded by manufactured walls, usually Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), and can be clad with a variety of sidings, such as logs, stone, brick or even stucco.

Traditional timber framing uses a variety of hardwoods, including oak, elm, sweet chestnut and hornbeam. These are often unseasoned, which means they were cut and worked soon after being harvested. It is important to note that unseasoned wood can become very soft and warp easily, so timber should be selected with care.

The timbers are typically treated with a lime wash, which is an environmentally friendly product that protects the wooden frames from water and moisture damage while still allowing for natural ventilation. Lime wash also acts as a weatherproofer and an insecticide.

Another advantage of timber is that it does not require interior load-bearing walls, which allows for flexibility in designing floor plans and constructing the structure without the need for costly foundations. This flexibility allows for the possibility of creating more open or more intimate design spaces depending on the needs of the individual home owner.

In England and Wales, historic timber frame construction was based on a variety of structural styles that were modified to meet changing demands. Some were simple, such as the ‘cruck frame’, while others were more complex. These included the ‘box frame’, ‘aisled’ and ‘jettied’ designs.

These construction methods were typically carried out by skilled carpenters who built the timber frame with a precision that would have been difficult for machines to achieve. Many of these buildings were dismantled and re-erected, which is why they are commonly found at open-air museums like the Weald and Downland Museum in Singleton, West Sussex and the Avoncroft Museum of Buildings in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire.

Modern timber-framed homes are characterized by high-performance insulation that allows them to be a great alternative to standard concrete and steel houses. This ensures that the structure won’t overheat or overcool, making it easier to keep your home comfortable all year long.


English timber frame houses have a long history and are a distinctive building style. They can also be a great choice for those looking to live in an environmentally sustainable home.

There are many different types of timber frames available to choose from and can be custom designed for your needs. The majority of these homes are constructed using oak timber and some can be built with other timbers such as pine.

The main structural elements of the house are the principal rafters, tie beams and sill beams, although there may be other parts of the frame. These are usually made from oak, with pegs used to secure the joints. Other elements of the framing include girts, collars and posts.

Another feature of these houses is the wattle-and-daub infill in between the timbers, which creates the half-timbered appearance. In addition, the frame may be finished with a lime wash which was coloured using local materials such as soil or blood.

In some cases, mudbricks or adobe were used as infill and provided fire resistance. This method of filling in the walls was a cheaper alternative to plaster and is still commonly seen in older homes.

As a result, these structures have been very popular in areas where they were a preferred building method. This is particularly true in Germany and Upper England, but there are many examples of these buildings across Europe and even the United States.

These timber framed structures are often used for commercial buildings and in rural communities. They are also commonly found in schools, hospitals and other public buildings.

There are several types of timber frames including box, cruck and close stud. In the United States, the term “box frame” is sometimes used to refer to timber-framed houses that use a common rafter roof without purlins.

In the UK, there are two main types of timber frame structure – cruck and box. Cruck frames are generally more expensive than box frames because they are much larger, but they are less likely to be damaged by earthquakes.

The primary difference between a cruck and box frame is the placement of the blades, which are the large curved timbers that form the bend or cross-frame. In a cruck frame, the curved blades extend from the ground or foundation to the ridge and act as the principal rafters; in a box frame, the curved blades are spaced closer together, forming the floor joists.