Development of ‘Timber Frame’ in Construction
Posted on 15th July 2021 at 13:40
What is ‘Timber Frame’?
‘Timber frame’ (TF) is a construction method that uses timber panels to form the structural walls and floors of a building. The panels are pre-manufactured off-site using timber stud and boards, with an insulated core for air tightness.
TF has been historically less favoured than traditional masonry methods involving brick and block, but there has been a rise in TF popularity in recent years and we look at some of the reasons why.
Why is Timber Frame increasing in popularity?
Cost – Research by Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) has found that the long-term use of TF increases can bring about a 30% cost saving through the speed of construction, greater quality of build, the ability to bulk purchase, reduction in waste and requiring a smaller workforce.
Speed – It is estimated by the Structural Timber Association (STA) that timber frame is around 30% quicker to build than traditional masonry methods as a lot of the work is premanufactured offsite under factory conditions, which also leads to greater guarantee of build quality.
Versitility – Wood is lighter than their weighty counterparts like brick, concrete, steel etc. and so it does not require strong foundations. It can also be used in many forms throughout the building from the frame, beams, floors, formwork, timber panels to cladding.
Strength - Timber can be engineered to enhance its strengths and remove natural weaknesses to produce stronger, longer, wider, and more stable building materials. Mass timber products are often used in the construction of large structures, as the primary superstructure or used to form hybrid methods.
Environmental - The UK Climate Change Committee (CCC) calculates that producing 1 tonne of steel generates 1.24 tonnes of CO2 and 1 tonne of aluminium generates 9.3 tonnes of CO2. By stark contrast, wood absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere. TF delivers a lower (better) ‘U value’ making them more efficient, cost effective and more environmentally friendly to run.
Sustainable – Timber is a natural sustainable resource that is grown around the world. It is estimated by Wood for Good that around 90% of timber used in the UK comes from certified sustainable sources such as FSC and PEFC.
What are the Risks associated?
Increased fire risk during construction phase – Fire Statistics Monitor has shown that the risk of fire during construction phase is more than seven times higher compared to once complete.
This risk can be reduced by taking some simple measures like using closed panel systems, minimising hot works, building compartmentation, etc
Rot and infestation – High moisture content in wood will likely cause it to rot.
The risk is rot in timber is greater than in brick or block, but TF is nowadays pressure treated with preservative which provides excellent water resistance. Providing built correctly and well maintained, this will keep the moisture content below 20% and mitigate the risk of rot and infestation.
Sound transmission – Timber is less dense than masonry materials, so naturally allows sound to transmit more easily.
By using more insulation or sound deadening materials in the TF panels, this will help reduce the transmission.
It is estimated by the World Green Building Council that 40% of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions comes from construction, so as we have seen, increased use of TF will have a major step in the right direction towards reducing our much needed carbon footprint and provide homeowners with the benefits highlighted above.
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