Timber engineered structural frames

The term "timber frame" traditionally conjures images of post and beam structures...

The use of timber in construction is a tradition that spans centuries, particularly in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and several other nations. The term “timber” applies to wood from the moment it is cut down from the tree, predominantly designated for construction uses.

This includes various sawn wood products, such as beams and boards, integral to the structural framework of buildings and bridges. In the context of residential construction, “timbers” often specifically denotes the beams or boards utilized in crafting the skeleton of a house.

The Evolution to Engineered Timber

Engineered wood products (EWPs) represent a significant advancement in timber technology, designed to outperform traditional wood in strength and durability. These products are manufactured through processes that enhance their natural properties, resulting in materials that offer superior performance for structural applications.

Notable Examples of Engineered Wood Products

Among the variety of EWPs, some notable examples include:

  • Glued Laminated Timber (Glulam): This engineered timber is crafted by bonding layers of solid timber boards using moisture-resistant adhesives. Glulam’s versatility makes it suitable for a broad range of applications, from simple joinery to complex, large-span structures. It serves as an eco-friendly alternative to conventional steel or concrete, especially in the construction of roofs for public and commercial spaces.
  • Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs): SIPs are innovative composite panels that feature an insulating core sandwiched between two structural facings. These panels are celebrated for their quick installation process, reduced waste, and energy efficiency. They offer a structural solution that competes with traditional timber framing in cost but excels in performance, being significantly stronger.
  • Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT): CLT has emerged as a formidable competitor against steel and concrete, offering advantages in adaptability, weight, and construction speed. Its resilience in corrosive environments and the ease with which it can be modified make CLT a preferred choice for a wide range of construction projects.
  • Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL): As a high-strength alternative to solid timber, LVL is engineered for superior performance, capable of spanning longer distances and bearing heavier loads. Its resistance to shrinkage and warping, along with its high tensile strength, makes LVL ideal for structural beams and trusses in construction.
  • Engineered Studs: These studs provide a solution for incorporating significant insulation depths within timber frame constructions, enhancing the building’s thermal performance without compromising structural integrity.

EWPs play a pivotal role in modern construction, lending themselves to a diverse array of framing solutions for commercial, residential, and institutional buildings. Their integration into hybrid frames, alongside steel, masonry, and concrete, underscores their versatility and effectiveness in supporting large or tall structures.

Implementing EWPs in Structural Frames

In the realm of construction, “frame” refers to the support structure of a building or infrastructure project. While the term “timber frame” traditionally conjures images of post and beam structures, it has evolved to encompass engineered timber frames as well.

These modern frames utilize a combination of EWP components, including walls, floors, and roof panels, to create a comprehensive structural system. This system adeptly transfers both vertical and horizontal loads to the foundation, ensuring stability and durability.

Engineered timber frames are categorized based on their panel systems, including open, insulated, and closed panels. Each type offers unique benefits, catering to specific construction needs and objectives, from thermal efficiency to ease of installation. This classification highlights the adaptability of EWPs in meeting the diverse requirements of contemporary construction projects.