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Five Faces of Timber Frame

PUBLISHED: 08:23 16 November 2015 | UPDATED: 09:18 16 November 2015

Five Faces of Timber Frame

Five Faces of Timber Frame


Craig Strachan at Sylva Group dispels the myth about timber frame cladding and explains the many options available.

Sylva GroupSylva Group

It is an amazingly common misconception that timber frame buildings can be identified by the timber on the outside. In fact, a timber frame structure can be clad in anything you like, and equally, many buildings with timber on the outside actually have a concrete or steel structure hidden inside.

Some cladding materials naturally lend themselves to timber frame, echoing its green and sustainable credentials, adding to its thermal performance and being fast to construct. But in fact, any cladding can be used.

Often the external materials of a building will be at least partly dictated by the local planning authority, which potentially limits your choices. However, this doesn’t mean that you should lose out on all the advantages of building with timber frame.


1. Brickwork

The majority of timber frame homes in England are still finished with bricks on the outside, making it impossible to tell that there’s a high performance timber frame doing all the hard work. Once the timber frame is erected, usually around 10 days for a typical home, the windows and a roof covering can quickly be installed. Although brickwork is weather dependent and somewhat slower to install, as the building is already watertight this doesn’t hold up work on the inside; building in timber frame takes the brickwork off your critical path and greatly reduces the likelihood of overrun.

2. Stonework

Similarly, both natural and pre-cast stone can be used with timber frame, again being supported separately on the foundation in the same way as with a traditional blockwork wall. As with brickwork, special ties are required to secure the stone to the timber frame, creating a ventilation cavity and providing lateral support whilst allowing for any difference in movement between the cladding and the timber frame.


3. Render

Render technology has come a long way in recent years and is now a popular choice for modern as well as traditional look homes; it can be through-coloured to negate the need for painting, no maintenance for up to 30 years and can even be self cleaning. Render works very well with timber frame as it can be supported by the frame, thereby removing the need for a separate foundation and saving cost. Many types of render can also provide additional insulation which can improve the already high thermal performance of the frame and further reduce running costs and carbon production.

4. Tiles

Often associated with traditional looking homes where roof tiles are hung on part of the wall, modern cladding tiles come in an almost overwhelming range of options. Large format tiles have been popular on commercial buildings for some time and are now being seen on modern homes. These can be slate, corium or even porcelain. Although very striking, this is a relatively expensive option and usually only used to create a feature.


5. Timber

Of course, timber can be used on timber frames as well; there is a huge range of species and profiles to create any look you desire. Popular options are cedar, larch and oak whilst others, such as Iroko, are relatively new. There are also many engineered products available, such as Thermowood, where wood is treated to improve its resistance to the elements and reduce any maintenance that might be required. Of course, many prefer a naturally weathered look for their timber, particularly popular with cedar and larch which gently fade into their surroundings.

So building with timber frame needn’t limit your cladding choices and there are advantages to each of them. Why not mix and match to create just the right look for your new home?

For more information or to discuss your project, please contact Sylva Group on 01608 819 391 or visit


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