While they both use large timbers, they’re not the same thing. The primary difference between the two is that the exterior walls of a log home are logs stacked horizontally. Whereas in a timber frame, the exterior walls are typically SIPS (Structural Insulated Panels). The SIPS are supported by the heavy timbers of a timber frame home.
The next major difference is the range of interior finishes possible with a timber frame. In a timber frame, the wall space between the timbers can be finished with nearly anything you can think of. Timber frames offer the rustic look of large timbers without an overwhelming feel of wood. The walls of a log home look the same on the inside as they do on the outside.
The short answer is “yes”… the longer timber frame industry answer is “no”. The timbers used in a home are sized according to the loads they must hold up or resist. This means that every piece has been analyzed to ensure it functions adequately for its task. The checking is a normal reaction in drying wood, which means, it has already been factored into the sizing software and engineering used to determine the size of timber needed to be a rafter, beam, post, etc.
In some cases, the twisting or checking does not appear until after the timber frame is raised. Because of this, our choice in joinery is used to minimize twisting whenever possible. Different types of joinery have little to no bearing on checking. Timbers check, it’s what they do. We have found that the quicker a frame is raised after the fitting process, the better it behaves during the acclimation process.
At the end of the day, checking and twisting in a timber frame is completely normal. Just like we each have our own personality traits, one timber frame will not move / behave the same as the next. That is part of what gives a timber frame it’s character. While we accept that checking and twisting is normal to a frame, we certainly do not take it lightly. We want our frames to stand for hundreds if not thousands of years just like the frames of old. That is only possible through craftsmanship of the best quality.
Because the SIPS create the walls of a timber frame home, they can accept any finish. That is one of the advantages to a timber frame. The timbers give the rustic feel so many desire but the walls give the blank canvas for the personal touch to be applied. The end result is a home that combines the steadfastness of a timber frame with the sentimental value of your own home.
The short answer is that we design our frames to stand by themselves regardless of the enclosure system used.
The longer answer is that a timber framer is more of a craftsman than just a laborer. Because of this, each timber framer brings a unique touch to every frame they build just like a painter brings a unique style to their canvas. It doesn’t mean that one is wrong or right, it just means they’re different. Each timber frame company has a style because of the individual craftsman that work there. That is part of what needs to be considered when choosing a timber framer for your home.