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#5498 - 02/06/06 02:58 PM Hide the Timber Frame?!
Andy Harper Offline
Member

Registered: 12/10/04
Posts: 14
Loc: Chelsea, VT
I've got a client who loves the idea of a timber frame for her new 30' x 44' colonial house. She also wants true lathe and plaster walls, no sheet goods that will off-gas, but worst of all, doesn't want to see the frame anywhere except the cellar eek . I'm left considering how to hide all our work while giving her the house she wants at a reasonable cost.

Would an in-fill system of using dimension lumber to hold exterior sheathing as well as interior lathe hold up economically as well as resist plaster cracking sufficiently? How about building the frame and letting it dry in place for a winter before putting plaster on? Has anyone had to hide their work before?

I'm afraid in the end that she may not go with a timber frame when she realizes the extra costs involved with adding dimensional lumber...? Any advice greatly appreciated.

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#5499 - 02/06/06 07:20 PM Re: Hide the Timber Frame?!
Randy Churchill Offline
Member

Registered: 12/28/99
Posts: 24
Loc: Cambridge, Vermont
Cool, a great example of a modern building problem. Sounds like she wants it the old way - so why don't you supply her with "the old way"? Frame is purely functional, spend NO time on finishing details, your challenge is to supply a fast, but stout frame. That is a fun exercise if you are used to the typical polished timber furniture usually produced. We figure about 50% of our time is spent on "finishing", that time should be saved in this case - go fast!
Incorporate vertical nailers every 1-2' for to attach lathe strips. Most of these buildings also had very few knee braces to work around, but she'll need enough to meet code.
You know how screwy dimension lumber is now, that will bring about its own problems.
Are you thinking about it too much? Let her decide if it costs too much, she may choose to trade off something else and keep your framing if budget rises, especially if you're working well with her and present accurate information for her decision making. You have a unique chance to recreate some traditional building elements, go for it. Sell her on the value of that. Good luck.

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#5500 - 02/07/06 01:46 PM Re: Hide the Timber Frame?!
Dan Miller Offline
Member

Registered: 12/23/03
Posts: 31
Loc: Cape Vincent, NY
Randy's idea of looking at how the old-timers did it is a good one, I think. For example, I'm finishing up restoration of an 1820 Greek Revival farmhouse that is exactly as you describe - timberframed, but visible only in the basement and attic.

In this case, the posts were 6x10, and the side walls are 6" thick and the gable-end walls 4". (Of course the insulation of choice at the time was brick, or nothing). Side wall studs were added between the posts to hold siding and lathe. Some were tenoned top and bottom, some just nailed in place. Many side wall studs were on the flat, and doubled with a gap between (i.e. separate studs for exterior siding and interior lathe). This has the advantage in modern days as allowing a little insulation between and creating a thermal break. Some studs are required for window framing. They were quite liberal in just nailing scraps wherever needed to create a landing for lathe.

Overhead, second floor and attic joists are sawn 4x8's spaced close enough to nail the lathe to, no additional nailers needed.

If it were me, I'd just use rough-cut studs from the same supplier my timbers come from.

Hope this makes sense - happy to clarify if I can.

Cheers,
Dan

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#5501 - 02/08/06 05:48 AM Re: Hide the Timber Frame?!
Scott McClure Offline
Member

Registered: 05/28/99
Posts: 40
Loc: Corvallis,OR USA
As I read Dan & Randy's posts I'm remembering a TF horror story I heard years ago, where a 5 year old frame, exposed inside, with stick frame infill, had to be torn down. Moisture laden air found it's way through cracks at the stud wall/post intersections & condensed on the inside of of the exterior wall & rotted things badly enough to cause the demise of the frame. Of course, the original houses were more air/vapor permeable ( i.e. they leaked) so this wasn't a problem. I think good detailing, proper venting & wise choices of vapor barriers & their placement should keep this from being a problem with your project. Good luck.

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#5502 - 02/08/06 02:48 PM Re: Hide the Timber Frame?!
Andy Harper Offline
Member

Registered: 12/10/04
Posts: 14
Loc: Chelsea, VT
Scott, you're right, that is a horror story. I wonder if a complete interior plaster job provides enough of a moisture barrier to keep warm, moist air in?

Randy, of course I'm thinking about this too much. I was tongue-tied when she suggested covering my frame, but I've since adjusted my attitude and see your point of selling it on it's own merits. You also mention code - we really don't have code in rural Vermont, as you know. What is your understanding of the required frequency of braces?

I'm still left with the question, however, of frame drying and plaster cracking. This seems to be the most risky part of this design. I'm thinking of using kiln dried 2x8 studs for infill, but wondering if lathe could be applied to the 7x10 posts (7.5" stud clears the 7" depth of post)with a buffered mounting system, so that as the frame dries down, it doesn't have to pull away from lathe and plaster. Has anyone tried something like this?

Dan, I'm familiar with your description of the house you're working on. My own house is an 1830 cape with a dutch frame, posts are 5x8 with bents spaced every 3-4'. There is some wisdom among the methods of old, but the challenge is providing quite a bit more modern convenience (insulation better than brick)while paying homage to the past.

How much do you think a pine frame would dry down in one winter heating season?

Thank you all for responses.

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#5503 - 02/09/06 05:56 AM Re: Hide the Timber Frame?!
Randy Churchill Offline
Member

Registered: 12/28/99
Posts: 24
Loc: Cambridge, Vermont
Uff, lots to think about huh? You can't exactly take 200 year old methods and assume they'll make an adequate contemporary house. I think you're on the right track to think thru the details. Before you go too far though, get the client signed up. Encourage her ideas and admit that it is a challenging endeavor - that you'd like to take on. Sign her up for a Design Phase where you'll get compensated for some time spent figuring it out. It gives you both an "out" if it gets to unweildy. Then go to work - several viable solutions will emerge. A good building motto is "It is always possible, may be expensive, but there is always a way." Money invested in design will be saved later.

Suspect you'll end up with overlapping layers and well thought out movement (buffer) zones. Lateral bracing needs to be figured out for that particular job. Can be interior shear walls, vert/horz grids of nailers, sheathing layers, maybe no knee braces at all. Need more info.

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#5504 - 02/09/06 02:14 PM Re: Hide the Timber Frame?!
jroy Offline
Member

Registered: 09/07/05
Posts: 23
Loc: acushnet, ma
Can someone explain what a infill system entails...is this an alternative to sips??

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#5505 - 02/10/06 07:31 AM Re: Hide the Timber Frame?!
Emmett Greenleaf Offline
Member

Registered: 05/09/02
Posts: 218
Loc: Virginia/Arizona
jroy,
As the name implies 'infill' is whatever material you use to occupy the spaces in the walls between the posts and girts or other horizontal members. In the olden days (still practiced some today in replications) this material could be daubing (a mixture of clay and straw with or without woven small sticks for lath) or brick carefully fitted into the spaces.
If you use dimensional lumber, batt or sprayed insulation and wallboard you 'infill' with these modern materials. All theses methods are in lieu of SIPs or other externally applied 'walls'.
There are many books on the subject.
deralte

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#5506 - 02/10/06 02:03 PM Re: Hide the Timber Frame?!
jroy Offline
Member

Registered: 09/07/05
Posts: 23
Loc: acushnet, ma
Emmitt..if you "infill" does one run the risk of having seperation at the timber/infill material junction as the timbers move and shrink..can you do an "outfill" using the same techniques but putting them on the outside of the timbers so not to be effected by movement & shrinkage??

and, if you could point out the books that reference infill systems I would appreciate your guidance on this..

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#5507 - 02/10/06 02:07 PM Re: Hide the Timber Frame?!
Andy Harper Offline
Member

Registered: 12/10/04
Posts: 14
Loc: Chelsea, VT
Randy, thanks for the advice. We'll see if she bites, and if so I'll be back looking for more insight. Cheers.

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