Timber frames add the ultimate level of craftsmanship to the place you call home. Timber framing has a long history, with evidence of timber frame construction from as far back as 200 BC. And many of the joinery techniques used hundreds of years ago are still used now. Today, timber framing is combined with modern techniques and materials to create beautiful structures that can last for generations.
Of course, any lasting home requires consistent upkeep. While timber frame homes are relatively low-maintenance, there are some key maintenance practices to remember that are specific to this type of home. Keep up with these practices, and you’ll have a quality, custom home for many years to come.
Start With Quality Timbers
A long-lasting home starts at the beginning - with your construction materials. It’s paramount that timbers are dried properly before building with them. Marks Lumber takes special care in drying our timbers with our kiln-drying process. Kiln-dried lumber is highly sought after because it is less likely to crack, twist, or bend since it is dried in a controlled environment. Kiln drying also speeds up our process, allowing us to get high-quality material to you faster, more efficiently.
In addition, make sure you’re choosing high-quality timbers that make sense for your geographic environment. Douglas fir is known for its tough fiber and dense grain structure, making it an ideal choice for structural purposes.
Coat With Stain or Oil
The main form of regular maintenance you’ll need to do for your timber frame home will be applying stain on the exterior and oil on the interior. For exterior applications, we highly recommend using a stain with a chemical agent that includes fungicides and UV protection. These will protect the wood from insects as well as the deteriorating effects of sunlight, which is inevitable for exterior timbers. How frequently you stain your exterior timbers depends on which stain you use, the climate in your area, and the amount of sun exposure. It can range from 3-7 years, but if you notice your timbers beginning to fade, it’s time to stain again.
Exposed timbers on the interior of your home will need some love, too. Tung oil or linseed oil are great options for this. Make sure you properly clean and dry the wood before applying oil with a roller or pad. And make sure to open the doors and windows of your home to reduce the odor and improve dry time.
Check Your Caulking
Exposure to the sun and dry weather can cause caulking to crack in different areas of your home, leaving it vulnerable to outside elements. At least once a year, you’ll want to take a look at the caulking. Primary places to check are:
- The foundation between masonry and timbers
- Openings where pipes and wires enter the home
- Around doors and windows
If you find any cracked or damaged areas, remove the affected pieces and apply caulk again until sealed.
Keep it a Consistent Moisture Level
While moisture levels aren’t necessarily a major issue that most homeowners need to worry about, it is something to keep in the back of your mind if you own a timber frame home. Keeping your home at a consistent humidity level will help to minimize the movement of the wood. And while movement is a natural thing that will likely occur throughout the lifetime of any wood product, minimizing this as much as possible is key to quality, lasting timber frame homes.
In some climates, moisture levels can vary significantly from season to season. Additionally, certain heat sources, such as wood stoves, can add to the dryness of the cold winter months. If you are concerned with varying moisture levels from summer to winter, consider using a humidifier in your home in the wintertime to combat that. As an added bonus, it’ll help moisturize your dry skin, prevent sore throats and other issues caused by air that’s too dry!
Marks Lumber has deep experience with custom timber frame construction. If you’re considering building or buying a timber frame home, need to replace timbers in one you currently own, or just have questions about general upkeep, we’re happy to help. Reach out to us, and we’ll make sure to take care of you.