Timber Frame construction in the UK is based on factory-made structural elements. The Timber Frame wall panels carry the loads on the building to the foundations whilst the outer cladding provides decoration and weather protection. Cladding is a matter of choice; it can be brick, stone or lightweight cladding, tile hanging or render.
Factory production of the Timber Frame panels ensures that they are accurately manufactured to precise tolerances in a controlled environment away from the vagaries of British weather. The Timber Frame panels are rapidly erected on site and, with trusses forming the roof, a weather tight building can be created in a matter of days. This enables work to continue in protected conditions within the buildings whilst the outer cladding and roof finishes are applied. Timber Frame is not just for houses; it is being used extensively for flats, schools, hotels, offices and sports facilities. Buildings up to eight storeys high can be constructed and, like all methods of construction, conform to the requirements of the Building Regulations.
Timber Frame wall panels are made up of softwood vertical studs and horizontal rails with a wood-based panel sheathing and a plasterboard lining. The studs carry vertical loads (known as racking resistance). Thermal insulation is usually incorporated in the spaces between the studs of external walls and protective membrane materials may also be required, depending on the design of the wall. For most external walls a breather membrane on the external face of the panels protects the panels during construction and provides a second line of defence against any wind-driven rain that may penetrate the completed external cladding. A vapour control layer in the form of polythene sheet is normally required on the ‘warm’ side of the insulation, behind the plasterboard lining to limit the amount of water vapour entering the wall panel.