The Benefits of Timber Frame

You are likely here because something about timber frame construction has caught your attention. If you’re drawn to timber, you’ll find your reasons for admiring it will only grow over time. We’d like to share the top ways that using timber, especially in a timber frame, will positively impact your life. Consider the benefits of building with big wood:

Visually Engaging

A common report from our clients is that they love the look of timber and feel happy every time they step into their timber frame home or cottage.  The presence of timber engages our appreciation of beauty: “Our timber frame living room feels like a big piece of art”, was one owner’s comment, “we love how each time we look at it, we see it in a new way”.  And like good art, timber framed spaces activate both the eye and the mind, prompting another customer to observe, “In the old place, we used to have the TV on all the time. Now, it’s way less. Our timber frame – it’s so interesting, I keep looking up and marvelling at how it all joins together.”

Timber frames: spaces to unwind in and be refreshed.

Biophilic (our response to nature)

In every decade since 1970 we’re spending less and less time outdoors.  Today, the average Canadian spends 94% of their life in buildings or cars and just 6% outdoors.

Nature is calling us: Rolling farmland along the Elroy-Sparta State Trail, Wisconsin.

A growing body of research shows that our indoor spaces affect our health. People in environments with little or no natural material have higher rates of stress, more sick days, higher blood pressure, and lower productivity.  In contrast, indoor spaces with more wood, plants, and other natural objects are associated with feelings of wellbeing, higher energy, creativity, and lower levels of stress.

The use of wood in a school cafeteria – warm, calming, welcoming.

Energy Efficient

Timber frames carry all the roof loads of a building, freeing up the walls and roof to be fully dedicated to insulation.  In contrast, conventionally built homes use 2×6 studs every 16”, and when taken together these represent around 10-12% of the total wall area of a building – a lot of thermal bridging.  Worse, insulation needs to be fitted around the studs and this introduces hundreds of tiny gaps where insulation isn’t fully closing the gap between studs.

A timber frame structure combined with insulated wall and roof panels will be over 30% more energy efficient than the same home built with 2×6 lumber.

This chart shows how many kilograms of CO2 are generated to create a beam 7.3m (24’) long, supporting 14.4kN/m (1,060 lbs/ft), in three materials. Numbers do not include CO2 sequestered in materials.


Our use of the Earth’s natural resources is at a critical point. How do timber frames fit into achieving a more sustainable future?  

Properly managed forests are a renewable resource whose trees can store carbon for many decades and even centuries.  When their wood fiber is used in high quality structures like timber frames, the carbon is kept out of the atmosphere for as long as the structure stands, potentially centuries more.  When a building is deconstructed, the timbers can be re-used in a wide range of products from flooring to furniture.

Cornerstone Timberframes is committed to responsible forestry that maintains the capacity of the forest and all species that depend on it.  We buy timber from suppliers who share this commitment.  

One cubic meter of wood stores 765 kilograms of carbon.  Through trees, nature provides humans with the most effective program to limit climate change.  

Structurally Superior

When you build a timber frame, you’ll enjoy beauty and the amazing strength properties of big wood.   A timber frame combined with structural panels can safely resist wind forces capable of removing roofs from conventionally framed buildings.  A timber frame also performs well in fires due to the large cross sections of its timbers.  During a fire, a char layer forms on the outside of a timber, and effectively insulates its load carrying capacity, allowing more time for firefighters to do their work.  And if you live in a seismically active zone, timber frames have a long history of being able to move and remain standing when materials like concrete and brick will break and fall.


Timber framing is a powerful design ally for creating the aesthetic look you’re after.  Rustic, contemporary, ornate, minimalist, industrial, refined and more, are all possible.  The advent of cross-laminated timbers and Cornerstone’s considerable experience with hybrid techniques and custom steel connections allows for even more design latitude. Let us know about the look you want to achieve – our design team is here to help you dream!

Cost / Reward 

Yes, timber framing involves a financial benefit too.  In real estate, the cost of adding timber, is viewed with an eye to how it will impact market demand and eventual re-sale values. A good indication of both these outcomes can be found in the world of commercial properties and leasing. Commercial developer’s have a steely-eyed focus on profits and their rapid acceptance of timber says a lot about the payoffs they’re realizing.  

In 2022, lessors were obtaining an average premium of $7.00 US per square foot for buildings constructed with big timber1.  In 2018, one of Minneapolis’s first mass timber buildings, the 7 storey, T3 building sold for an impressive $382 US per sq. ft., nearly double the going rate for commercial space in the Twin Cities.

Well designed timber frame structures, both residential and commercial, appeal to a wide clientele who seek the ambience of wood.  They consistently achieve higher than market returns when offered for sale.

T3 Building, North Loop, Minneapolis – timber is in demand for new office space.

Let's Start the Conversation

Which of these are at the top of your list? Are there other reasons to love timber that you think should be added – if so, please be in touch and let us know!
1 – “Consulting-Specifying Engineer”, trade publication, as quoted by Lauren Wingo of ARUP, a consultancy firm specializing in construction project.
2 – “North Loops T3 Sold to Investment Group”, Twin Cities Business, 6-05-2018.