Post & Beam Construction

You may have heard the terms post and beam tossed about in new home discussions, but what does it truly mean? We’ll fill you in on post-and-beam construction right here.

What is Post and Beam Construction? 

This describes a standard building method that uses heavy timbers, such as milled square timbers or naturally textured, round logs to create a new home. The vertical elements are posts and the horizontal elements are beams. Post and beam is often contrasted with timber framing, but when strictly defined, timber framing is a specific type, or subset, of the post and beam category of building. This means that all timber-frame buildings are post and beam, but not all post and beam structures are timber frames.

In common use, however, post and beam construction can refer to rounded or squared posts, connected to beams, usually with metal fasteners, including plates, straps, lag bolts for connection and angle/corner bracing. When only wood is used today, including to connect all posts and beams in the older, more traditional manner, it’s typically referred to as timber framing.

It’s All About the Joinery: Timber Framed Craftsmanship 

Timber framing is called this because the construction is completely done with wood, even the joints that hold the beams and posts together. In the purest form of timber framing, the major structural elements (the posts and beams) are held together with carefully crafted pegs, and well-fitted mortise and tenon (tongue and groove) craftsmanship. Other all-wood connection methods include mortise and spline, dovetail, pocketed timber, and tongue and fork construction. Diagonal braces, creating a Y-shape near the top of the post, can be used to reinforce beams and add strength, rigidity and rustic style to the structure.

Timber framing is typically considered to be the more natural aesthetic and somewhat of an art. Strict timber framing typically takes longer to construct. Much quality home construction today is a hybrid form. When necessary, metal joinery is placed over traditional peg joints, and can be hidden to maintain the timber framed aesthetic. Most often, an experienced contractor/builder will achieve the look you want, and the structural integrity your home needs, by using both wood and metal.

Industrial Chic: Metal has its Own Style

The idea of structural artistry and home styles is changing, of course. These days in home construction, steel can be a proudly valid aesthetic component of your house frame—adding an industrial feel to modern home design and contemporary residential construction. Today’s brand of post and beam construction can be designed to show off the metal pieces, for a sleek and modern appearance.

Besides being quicker and often less costly, post and beam construction (with metal reinforcement and connections) is ideal for today’s great rooms and open floor plans that span significant space. Most walls are not load-bearing, structural elements of the house in post and beam construction, so the walls can be built in many shapes and layouts, using many types of decorative material. This allows for easier re-design of the space later on, if the open plan needs to be modified due to changing tastes, style trends, or family needs.

Should You Use Post and Beam Construction for Your New WV Home?

The major advantages of post and beam construction include: potentially quicker construction and lower cost, with added frame strength for versatile open plan homes. Traditional timber framing, however, defines quality construction for some homeowners. To get the custom home you want, discuss the look you desire with your custom home builder, along with your desired timeline and budget. You can count on the team at Miller’s Residential Creations to use the materials and construction methods that best achieve your goals for your dream home, which could be hybrid of traditional timber craftsmanship and modern post-and-beam framing methods.

Consult with Experts About Post & Beam or Timber Frame Construction 

At Miller’s Residential Creations, we can design and build the custom home you imagine. Contact us to discuss your traditional or unconventional home ideas, today.

Brian Miller is the owner of Miller's Residential Creations, a custom home builder and remodeling company servicing Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan Counties of West Virginia since 2004.
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