The Difference Between Log Buildings & Timber Framing

In short: round vs: squared.

Log homes and cabins are built using the whole log, peeled of their bark and are round. In some cases d-shaped logs are used. These are primarily structural logs that are placed horizontally and interlocked into place.

Log homes have a certain appeal but they have a very rustic look that can’t really be dialed back no matter what decisions you make on interior decor. Because of the size and inflexibility of logs, you’ll typically have to settle for a more basic shape using primarily rectangular rooms, and won’t be able to have as many unique shapes and lines in the home.

log cabin with windows

Timber homes however, are built using timbers that have been sawn into a rectangular shape. They are sized larger than the typical studs and trusses of a stick-built or conventionally-framed home, and are exposed often on both interior and exterior.

Timber homes can have more flexibility on floor plan design, and especially in the case of hybrid timber homes, you can dial back the “rustic factor” and create very modern looking designs, or get as rustic as you like.

Although timber homes are more popular in architecture, that doesn’t mean log homes are inferior, just that you will get stuck with a very rustic feel and have less options and flexibility in your floor plan.

modern rustic lakehouse timber frame

This video will explain the differences between log structures, timber framing and post & beam.

These can get confused easily, but there are some specific hallmarks of each that you can use to identify the difference.

Each person has their own preferences, and many enjoy the log cabin feel, but there is certainly more flexibility in home design and “rustic factor” when it comes to timber framing or post and beam.

Timber Framing utilizes wood joinery techniques like mortise & tenon to connect beams and posts together. These are usually connected with oak pegs and utilizes traditional wood working tools. Historic buildings utilize this traditional joinery technique.

king post and pegs

Post and Beam still uses timbers for construction in a similar sense, but for joinery it relies on metal plates, lag bolts and screws and the like. It generally has less ornate styling and has an almost “industrial” look to it, although it can be artistically done still.

cantilevered illustration
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What is the Difference Between Log Homes, Timber Framing & Post and Beam?
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Log homes use round, interlocked logs, timber and post and beam use rectangular beams, with a difference in joinery tactics between the two.
Bert Sarkkinen
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Arrow Timber