You’ll often hear the term “heavy timber” and “post and beam” when timber frames are discussed.  The terms have come to be used interchangeably, but there are also differences.

Heavy timber can be used to indicate large lumber which is usually expressed in actual sizes (an 8 x 8 timber is really 8 X 8 ) instead of nominal sizes where a 2 X 4 is usually 1 1/2 X 3 1/2.    Timber frames are always built with heavy timber.

Post and beam can indicate heavy timbers attached to one another with metal plates, bolts, joinery, or a combination.  While the term is often used to mean “timber frame”, it doesn’t have to be traditional timber framing.

A 12″ X 22″ X26′ timber ridge beam, shown below, definitely qualifies as heavy timber as it becomes an integral part of a timber frame home.

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