History of Hybrid Timber Framing
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History of Hybrid Timber Framing

Have you looked at a stunning building with wooden beams, or wooden vaulted ceilings and thought that you’d love something like that in your home? Have you ever been in an old building and looked at the structure, wondering how they did that? What you’re looking at is called “hybrid timber framing,” and author Bert Sarkkinen is releasing the second edition of his book “The Art of Hybrid Timber Framing” in early 2021.

According to Sarkkinen, “By simple definition, hybrid timber framing is: Integrating exposed post-and-beam construction with other building systems, such as standard platform framing, concrete ICFs (insulating concrete forms), CLTs (cross-laminated timbers), concrete or block, and steel structures.”

There are many different styles that you can use to bring hybrid timber framing into your home, including Euro, classic, traditional, costal, rustic, modern and craftsman, and even a small change can make a great impact on your house. Sarkkinen explores all of these in “The Art of Hybrid Timber Framing,” with gorgeous pictures to give you inspiration.

If you’re a fan of the styles and of hybrid timber framing in general, perhaps you know that the tradition goes back a long time. Wood has certainly always been used for building, though, according to Sarkkinen, “…timber frame styles were affected by wood scarcity in the Middle Ages due to over-harvesting of trees.”

In general though, wood has been a renewable resource, and readily available throughout history. Sarkkinen explains that wood’s relative lightness was a selling point, and the ease of working with the material made it more popular for homes than stone or steel.

He says, “Wood also has high insulation value, great load-bearing capacity, and helps with acoustics. Compared to a carpet, wood is loud, but compared to a concrete vault, wood is as quiet as a church mouse!

“Despite wood’s inherent weaknesses, such as vulnerability to rot and fire, it was still the building material of choice for most early builders. When you consider all trade-offs, from convenience to speed to longevity and investment cost, wood was an easy choice.”

Even cooler than that is how builders before the Industrial Revolution crafted wooden pegs to hold structures together due to the high cost of metal fasteners and nails. The variations of joints like the “mortise” and the “tenon” are, as the author explains, “celebrated by builders and owners alike with the revival of timber framing.” 

Early settlers to America each brought the styles of their own countries, and experts can tell you the historic origin of a frame by the way it’s joined, the layout, the markings and the architecture.

Though it fell out of fashion during the Industrial Revolution, and the rise of electricity, railroads and nails, timber framing is back as a viable and stunning option. A passionate resurgence happened in the 1970s, thanks to early practitioners such as Jack Sobon and Ten Benson.

Nowadays, there are some absolutely stunning examples of hybrid timber framing out there. Do you want to replicate the structure of a castle great hall to match your love of history? Perhaps you love the look of beams across a vaulted ceiling. Maybe setting the mood with some decorative accents in wood is your dream. Hybrid timber framing is perfect for your home!

The second edition of “The Art of Hybrid Timber Framing” goes into the history, of course, but it will also give you a taste of the modern applications of the style, allow you to fully realize which version of the art is right for your home, and give you tips and tricks and tell you what to avoid. With everyone revamping their domiciles right now, it’s the perfect time to get creative with Bert Sarkkinen and hybrid timber framing!