802-886-1917
Vermont Timber Works Blog

Timber Framing vs. Post and Beam Construction

By Derek Folsom on July 23, 2015

Timber Framing vs Post and Beam Construction

Something that is commonly confused when it comes to timber is the difference between timber framing and post and beam construction.  Hopefully, for those who are interested in the differences, I can shed a little light on what a separates a timber framed structure and a post and beam structure.

Heavy Beam Install

Post and Beam Joinery. The image shows setting heavy beam on posts.

Post and Beam Dining Hall

Post and Beam Dining Hall Using Traditional Joinery.

The major difference, really the only difference, is the type of joinery that is used.  A timber framed building uses traditional joinery, like mortise and tenon, dovetails, and tongue and fork (to name a few) to form the connections.  The mortise and tenon joint is used to make the majority of timber framed connections and has been the basis for timber framed projects since the very beginning.

Traditional Timber Frame Joinery

Traditional Timber Frame Joinery Using Mortise and Tenons with Wood Pegs.

 

Timber Framed Church Truss Being Installed Using Traditional Joinery

Post and beam construction has a very similar aesthetic, and the joints can look similar, but the stark difference is the connections are simple, sometimes made with plates and bolts.  Some post and beam projects are done without the plates. For those projects, the connection is made by lag bolting the timber components together.

Post and Beam Joinery on a Timber Storage Shed

Post and Beam Joinery on a Timber Storage Shed

Vermont Timber Works has used traditional joinery from day one. We use it even when the project

calls for steel joinery. Although the steel may help the strength of the connection, it is applied over a connection that has already been made with mortises and tenons.

There is no doubt that steel can bring a lot to the table when it comes to the design and overall concept of a frame, especially when someone is trying to marry a rustic look with an industrial look. We often use steel as aesthetic component of a frame. There is no right or wrong when it comes to the concept & design of your timber frame project. (Unless, of course, the structure is not going to stand. Then it’s not an ideal concept.) Everyone has different tastes. Just know that traditional joinery will be the backbone, figuratively and literally, when you build a timber frame with Vermont Timber Works.

King Post Truss Steel Assembly

Flat black steel plates being assembled on a king post truss

Well, there you go, that’s the difference between traditional timber frame construction and generic post and beam.

As always, thank you for stopping by our timber framers’ blog! If you like this post, or have any timber work questions, we invite you to get in contactask an expert, or share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Traditional Joinery, Mortise and Tenon

Rough Sawn Hemlock timber with Birch Pegs extended an inch

31 comments
  1. Nick DeMeo says:

    interested in a beamed structure as a door awning.
    About 10′ wide, 10 pitch roof, about 5′ deep.
    One beam at the building.
    One beam at center
    One beam on end

    • Sandy Connolly says:

      Hi Nick, thanks for stopping by our blog! Please give the office a call to talk about your timber awning 802-886-1917.

  2. Mike Maresca says:

    IS THERE A COST SAVINGS TO BUILD A POST & BEAM HOME VERSUS A TIMBER FRAME HOME

  3. Alan Finney says:

    Sandy,

    We have an old barn circa 1840s, referred to as a swing beam barn, with a 11″ X 16″ x 32′ hand hewn swing beam We are turning the barn in to a wedding barn facility and are going to remove the beam. It will be about 30′ long after we cut the tenons off of it. Is there a market for a beam like that?

    • Sandy Connolly says:

      Hi Alan, yes, there is absolutely a market for that beam. Where are you located? I have a couple ideas in mind.

  4. Ken Kelly says:

    Like to get a catalog sent to me.
    Ken Kelly

    • Sandy Connolly says:

      Hello Ken, we are happy to send you some information. I’ve removed your address from the comment field and sent it in to Sue at the office. Thanks for stopping by our blog!

  5. David Carlson says:

    I’m looking for a supplier other than Simpson Strong Tie for heavy timber steel connectors. Can you share a link that I can go to?
    Thanks

  6. David Carlson says:

    What stain/finish do you use to keep a natural wood look to your homes?

  7. Pearl says:

    How much would it cost to build a whole barn?

  8. John E Nelson says:

    We are looking into constructing a really nice post and beam wedding barn on our property. We have a B & B and this would compliment our current business. I am very interested in your catalog and procedure of work performed.

    • Sandy Connolly says:

      Hello John, thanks for stopping by! We are happy to talk with you, please call the office 802-886-1917 and ask to speak with Sue or Derek. They can get the conversation started.

      • John E Nelson says:

        Hi Sandy, I spoke with Derek three days ago. We had a nice conversation about our project and your company. I am waiting (not so patiently) as I am excited to see what he will send to my email. I am like a kid I a candy store wanting to see all that is available. Kind Regards, John

  9. Larry Renn says:

    Hi the stickman(Larry)in the ozarks. Starting a tlmberframe underground or burm style 3000sq.ft. home. I may use dovetail joints for longer beems ,any comments?

  10. Jerry Morelan says:

    I need a partner to help me build a post and beam
    house on my property on a creek in central idaho.

    I have a lot of timber and a sawmill. Need some ideas.

  11. It is amazing to see how wood is used in homes and buildings. Being able to build things like this is amazing to me and it does so much to add style, value, and security to a home. I’ll have to remember this when I start building my home and make sure that I use the right wood to do the framework.

  12. Kyler Brown says:

    I am trying to learn all that I can about construction, so I appreciated this post. I too have often confused timber framing verses post and beam construction. It makes sense that the main difference is just the type of joinery that is used. Thanks for sharing this!

  13. Bob Ballan says:

    Very cool blog !!
    Can I please have a catalog
    Bob

    • Sandy Connolly says:

      Thank you Bob, and yes, we are happy to send you our brochure. (I’ve removed your address from this comment). Look for it soon and if you have any questions, call the office and ask to speak with Sue. 802-886-1917. Thanks again!

  14. Oscar says:

    I really like this blog. Can you please send me your brochure?
    Thanks.

  15. Cary says:

    I’m interested in working with an architect and an Amish builder (in my area) to design and construct a timber frame home. Will your design team work with these folks on design and construction? Also, does your catalog/brochure include information not on your website? If so, please send me a copy. Thanks!

  16. pooja says:

    THANKS FOR THIS INFORMATION

  17. shivam says:

    Thanks for the very interesting differences

  18. mark mass says:

    planning a timber frame pool house.
    small, 8*12.
    would love info.

  19. Herbert Young says:

    Need info and brochures on post and steel construction. Going to build a cabin n west TN. I will b retiring soon and moving back to a small community where I am originally from. HW Young
    153 Shady Oaks Dr
    Perry FL 32348

  20. Tom Meeker says:

    I have a 90 year old building,an old train station.l am renovating it and would like to put in a 20ft by 50ft post and beam loft,with steal connectors.Any ideas or information you can send me?

  21. Alice Lynch says:

    We are trying to decipher a document from the 1790s. It reads …. ‘shall not exceed a building of 38 feet long and 24 feet wide of 10 1/2 feet Post.’
    Can you explain what the term ‘of 10 1/2 feet post’ means?
    Thank you!

    • Caitlin says:

      Well, we can’t be certain, but I would guess that it would mean the post length, i.e. the wall height of the building. So, the wall height of the building would be 10 1/2 feet.
      Hope that helps!

      Thanks,
      Caitlin

Leave a Reply to Ken Kelly Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow
Share
Bookmark and Share
Back to Top
Vermont Timber Works