Post and Beam Construction vs. Timber Frame Construction

What’s the Difference?

For many people, the terms “post and beam construction” and “timber frame construction” mean about the same thing. However, as any timber frame expert will tell you, these two construction methods are not the same. The main difference lies in the way that the posts and beams are joined to create the completed structure.

Timber Frame Construction

Timber frame construction has been around for a long time. The technique was born out of necessity due to a lack of the many types of metal fasteners that are used in construction today.

Timber frame construction uses interlocking joints to achieve superior strength and structural stability. The joints must be milled with precision to achieve a tight fit. One type of interlocking joint that is used in timber frame construction is mortise and tenon. Holes are drilled and a wooden peg is then inserted to join the two members.

construction timber frame

Post and Beam Construction

Post and beam construction, on the other hand, uses modern exposed or hidden fasteners to create the finished structure. One example of a modern exposed fastener is the black steel gusset seen in the photo below.

Pros and Cons

While both post and beam and timber frame construction require skill, true timber frame construction is an art to be mastered only after many hours of persistent practice. It requires patience along with a steady hand and is usually more labor-intensive (and more expensive). Builders often combine timber frame and post and beam construction techniques in order to offer a more competitively priced construction package without sacrificing the appearance of authentic timber frame construction.

To the untrained eye, the post and beam and timber frame structures might look about the same. They both use the exposure of structural posts and beams to achieve a unique structure that highlights the natural beauty of the wood. But any passionate timber frame carpenter will be quick to tell you that timber frame construction is NOT the same as post and beam construction.

12 Timber Frame and Post and Beam Projects from North America

1. Timber Frame Patio Structure in Portland, Oregon

This timber frame outdoor patio structure is located in Portland, OR. A hammerhead beam-style truss that rests on stone columns provides structural stability while adding visual appeal. This outdoor living space is completed by a large fire pit that makes this a useful space for entertainment and relaxation.

2. Timber Frame Park Pavilion in Exeter, Ontario

When the Thames Road – Elimville community park needed a new pavilion, they reached out to the community for help erecting this impressive park pavilion. Located in the Ontario town of Exeter, this pavilion will serve as a valuable community space where many pleasant memories are made and relationships nurtured.

3. Timber Frame Pavilion near Vershire, Vermont

This beautiful (although still unfinished) timber frame pavilion presides over a stone outdoor living area. Constructed with rot-resistant white oak pillars and hefty 26’ long purlins, this pavilion is built to withstand whatever mother nature might bring against it. The roof will be protected by 24 gauge double-lock standing seam metal for an outdoor living solution that stands the test of time.

4. Timber Frame Chapel in Johns Creek, Georgia

This magnificent timber frame structure was built for use as a chapel for the Perimeter Presbyterian Church in Johns Creek, GA. The pavilion provides a peaceful setting for use in marriage ceremonies and worship. Mortise and tenon joined oak timbers serve as the skeleton of this impressive structure.

5. Shoreside Pavilion beside Lake Erie

This shoreside pavilion with canted posts overlooks majestic Lake Erie. Owner Bob envisions his children and grandchildren making use of this beautiful timber frame structure. The arrow-straight rafters were harvested from a hemlock tree that grew to be more than 300 years old.

6. Multipurpose Pavilion in Springfield, Missouri

This unique, multi-purpose pavilion, known as the Trout Pond Pavilion, is located in Springfield, MO. It makes use of laminated curved timbers (to achieve the curved design). More traditional timber frame construction still makes up a significant portion of the structure. It was constructed using douglas fir and Port Orford cedar.

7. Timber Frame Residence near Battle Ground, Washington

This charming residence uses old-fashioned timber frame architecture alongside modern construction techniques. It’s a hybrid that allows homeowners to experience the best of both worlds. The timber frame features are displayed on the interior and exterior of this residence near Battle Ground, WA.

8. Timberframe Pavilion in Camden, Maine

Green space near downtown Camden, Maine benefits from this beautifully designed timber frame structure. The simple yet rigid king post trusses provide structural support for this private park pavilion. An additional attraction is a fireplace that was built using stones harvested from the local area.

9. Lakeside Pavilion near Dahlonega, Georgia

This lakeside pavilion near Dahlonega, GA, while impressive in its own right, models a more cost-effective method of construction. Truss rafter members are joined using steel gussets instead of more time-consuming mortise and tenon techniques. This lowers the cost barriers that are usually associated with timber frame constructed buildings.

10. Post and Beam Residence in Penn Valley, California

Post and beam construction can be used for interior and exterior projects, as seen in this Penn Valley, California home. Hidden fastening techniques along with knotty pine materials make this an elegant yet relatively affordable home construction project.

11. Post and Beam Hawaiian Paradise

This Hawaiian Paradise is another example of a post and beam construction project that is sure to impress. The Balinese style architecture is made possible using posts and beams joined with hidden fasteners.

12. Post and Beam Residence near Gallatin Gateway, Montana

Here is a post and beam construction project using reclaimed lumber. As seen in this project near Gallatin Gateway, MT, post and beam construction can be used to decorate a home’s interior beautifully.

This Post and Beam look could be yours. Are you ready?

Are you looking for a dedicated builder in the North East that understands the intricacies of both Timber Frame and Post and Beam Construction? The team at Lancaster County Backyard would love to partner with you to achieve the post and beam structure of your dreams! Get in touch with us today.