Timber Frames in Commercial Buildings: Pros and Cons

Timber frames are more common in residential construction than the commercial sector, but more clients are looking to timber for their projects. If you’re thinking about a timber frame, here are the pros and cons you should consider.

Timber Frames May Be Cheaper

A 2014 study claimed projects with timber frames can be up to 25 percent cheaper than those made with traditional concrete frames. However, some experts have questioned the study’s validity, as it was commissioned by a company with an interest in the timber industry.

Timber Is a Green Choice

Timber is a natural product made from the sun’s energy and absorbed carbon. Most of the construction industry’s timber is sourced from sustainable plantations and forests. These factors make timber frames the preferred choice of eco-minded developers.

Timber Has Design Challenges

Local builders know how to build a timber-framed home, but they’re less comfortable using timber for an apartment complex or an office building. Many commercial construction firms simply don’t have the expertise with timber frames. Timber can work in the commercial world though. Spain’s Metropol Parasol, a four-storey cover for an outdoor plaza, shows a creative use of timber. In Norway, a 14-storey apartment complex promises to be the world’s tallest modern apartment structure made of timber. However, we’re not seeing such innovation at home. The cost of finding a builder innovative enough to create a commercial property like those in Europe may offset timber’s affordability.

Timber or Concrete Isn’t the Only Choice

It’s important to note choosing between timber and concrete isn’t your only option. There’s been a recent swing towards hybrid construction, which involves both timber and concrete elements. If adding another option to the mix has confused you further, contact TPM Builders for project advice about which frame type might suit your needs best. In countries like Australia, where timber is such a plentiful resource, it makes sense to consider a timber frame for your next commercial project. As with any building choice, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons before you make a decision. ©Image via Flickr by D H Wright