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8 Reasons to Build with Timber Framing in the Rockies

8 Reasons to Build with Timber Framing in the Rockies

With the majestic Rocky Mountains as a backdrop, timber frame structures have always been perfectly at home in the West. The timber recalls mountain settlers building sturdy homes and ranches, tales of strength and survival, and rough-and-ready cowboys intent on taming the rugged lands. Timber structures are part of the lore and cultural identity of the frontier, and their continued popularity is testament to their part in the legendary romance of life in these mountains.

But beyond the tradition of using timber as a building material, whether in the form of heavy timber beams or mass timber (multiple layers of wood tightly glued and laminated together), there are more reasons to embrace its use:

  1. Aesthetic Harmony: In accord with the pines that boldly ascend the mountainsides, timber is a natural material choice, particularly in conjunction with granite and sandstone. The play between textures and coloration is naturally complementary and echoes the sweeping landscapes they inhabit.
  2. Sustainability: As a renewable resource, timber is desirable to architects, builders, and homeowners. The carbon emissions produced in its manufacture are far lower than mineral-based building materials such as iron and steel (50% less), and cement (25% less)1, with the added benefit of wood acting as a carbon trap throughout its life cycle — and beyond, as part of the building.
  3. Off-Site Construction: Timber frame structures can be crafted off-site, which, given the weather variations of the Rocky Mountains, helps keep a building project on schedule without interruption from Mother Nature. Off-site construction also enables fine attention to detail within a fabrication shop, which is not always possible on-site. An added bonus: assembly on-site moves quickly thanks to preformed joinery that slips into place.
  4. Lower Environmental Impact: Timber is lighter in weight than steel and concrete, allowing for more material to be carried per truckload, resulting in fewer trucks on roads. And, because of its lower weight, timber doesn’t always require heavy machinery or extensive excavation, which can mean less soil disturbance and better preservation of natural habitats.
  5. Cost Savings: With timber framing’s off-site manufacture and ease of assembly on-site comes a reduced need for manpower at the construction site, which may lower project costs — including travel and lodging — while also producing less activity and construction mess on the property.
  6. Customization & Design Flexibility: The sweeping vistas of the Rocky Mountains are, of course, best viewed in the open air, but they are also gorgeously framed by large picture windows. Because of timber framing’s capacity for large spans, huge windows are possible without the interruption of supports to block the panorama. Likewise, large, open rooms can be built, with cathedral ceilings soaring high above, echoing the expanse outside.
  7. Durability: Timber, when properly treated and maintained, can withstand harsh weather to repel harrowing conditions for years, creating a structural heirloom for a family to pass down to generations to come.
  8. Fire Resistance: Wildfires are, naturally, of utmost concern in the region. In light of this, building with timber may seem like a poor choice, but when properly treated, timber is surprisingly fire-resistant. Upon exposure to flames, the outer layers of heavy or mass timber beams will char to form an insulation that protects their inner strength.

Timber frame buildings are a natural fit to the Rocky Mountain region, given their rich heritage and cultural significance. But additionally, timber has qualities in sustainability, durability, safety, and efficiency that other materials simply can’t match, making it a desirable and practical choice for builders beneath the mountains’ majesty. To move forward with a timber frame project of your own, contact the team at Mid-Atlantic Timberframes today.



1 Mark Dwortzan, “Taking the carbon out of construction with engineered wood.” MIT News, December 11, 2019, https://news.mit.edu/2019/taking-carbon-out-construction-with-engineered-wood-1211

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