Platform Frame Construction
Platform Frame construction is the most common method of timber frame building used in the UK. This method of construction is ideally suited for all types of projects from small extensions, garages and summer houses, to commercial housing, schools, hospitals or even multi storey hotels.
Pre-fabricated panels are erected one storey at a time, and each storey supports the joist or roof platform above it, distributing the load uniformly along the loadbearing wall panels.
There are different types of wall panels used in different locations within the building.
External wall panels
External timber frame wall panels can arrive on site either in sections or as full length walls. A basic frame will consist of vertical timber studs, top and botton timber plates, and specially engineered timbers called lintels to support loads over the openings. On the outside, a structural sheet of plywood or OSB (Oriented Strand Board) is fixed, and covered with a breather membrane. These panels are referred to as open panels. Closed panels are produced with various levels of detail depending on the company supplying the kit. Panels are insulated, and lined with a vapour barrier on the inner face by some, others will include electrical services and plasterboard finishes straight from the factory.
Sometimes a timber frame company will produce multy storey panels and hang the floor joists from the inside of the walls, this is similar to Platform Frame but is known as Balloon Frame construction
Internal wall panels
Internal wall panels have vertical studs and horizontal plates just like external panels. They may have OSB on the to help provide racking resistance, or have solid timber lintels and horizontal bracing called noggins so they can carry loads from floors walls and roofs above. As with External panels, internal walls may be delivered with insulation and plasterboard already fitted depending on the supplier chosen.
Post and Beam Construction
Post and beam construction, more commonly favoured in Europe and America than in the UK, uses large section timbers or glulaminated posts and beams to support the floor and roof elements. Walls are created using infill panels similar to those used in Platform Frame Construction, but they are not load-bearing.
Sustainability and the Environment
Timber Frame is undoubtedly the best commercial form of construction from a 'Green' perspective.The majority of the timber used in the UK is FSC certified from Canada, Scandanavia or, more recently, Eastern Europe. This means that it comes from managed forests where more trees are planted than are harvested. Do be aware however that some importers use timber that has not been FSC Certified so ask before you order.
Materials are lightweight meaning less mechanical handling and transportation costs. Timber posts and beams require less energy to produce than either steel or concrete and require less energy to 'work' i.e. cut, drill etc. This all adds up to less 'Embodied Energy' and consequently a lower Carbon Footprint.
In service, a timber frame building will ensure low running costs in a warm and cozy environment superior to any concrete structure, again offering a lower carbon footprint.