Durability of Timber Structures

Age Old Timber Frame

Both the Medieval buildings cited above and the even older example of Stave Churches and Tithe Barns that can be seen dotted around across the UK, mainland Europe, Scandinavia, and as far afield as Japan and China. There continuous use over very long periods of time – over 1,200 years in some cases - provides evidence of the exceptional durability of timber frame.

Medieval Timber Frame Great Barn, Warnborough

Inside the Great Barn, Wanborough,Source: Wikimedia, Public Domain

How Long Will They Last?

Over 90% of pre-reformation, i.e. built before the mid 1500’s, buildings in the UK have timber frame structures. The tithe barns, stave churches and medieval buildings cited above, as well as those in the North America, Scandinavia and other parts of mainland Europe, provide ample evidence that timber structures can last 500 years or more. 

Church of St Andrew, Greensted-juxta-Ongar 9th-11th Century source en:User:DarkCryst  Wikimedia Commons

Timber Stave Church of St Andrew, Greensted-juxta-Ongar

9th-11th Century
source en:User:DarkCryst  Wikimedia Commons

Which Countries Use Timber Frame Today?

In most developed countries timber frame homes dominate. In Australia, Canada, the USA, and Scandinavia they account for over 90% of housing construction. Scotland leads the way in the UK, with circa 65%, followed by Ireland with 60%. Output in Wales at only around 10% drags this percentage down to give a timber framed new homes market in the UK of only around 30%. Since the year 2000 this has been expanding rapidly – but then the UK does have a long way to go to catch up with the rest of the world.

Kondo and pagoda at Hōryū-ji, Ikaruga, Nara Built in 7th century source: 663highl	and Wikimedia Commons

1,300 year old Kondo and pagoda at Hōryū-ji, Ikaruga, Nara

Built in 7th century
source: 663highl   and Wikimedia Commons

Which Countries Use Timber Frame Today?

In most developed countries timber frame homes dominate. In Australia, Canada, the USA, and Scandinavia they account for over 90% of housing construction.  Scotland leads the way in the UK, with circa 65%, followed by Ireland with 60%.  Output in Wales at only around 10% drags this percentage down to give a timber framed new homes market in the UK of only around 30%. 

Since the year 2000 this has been expanding rapidly – but then the UK does have a long way to go to catch up with the rest of the world.

 

Timber Frame Barn in Shiner, Texas, 2008 source: Vermont Timber Works – Wikimedia Commons

Timber Frame Barn in Shiner, Texas, 2008

source: Vermont Timber Works – Wikimedia Commons

Nostalgic Queenslander House, Australia, 2008 source: Wikipedia Commons

Nostalgic Queenslander House, Australia, 2008        

source: Wikipedia Commons

 

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