Timber vs Brick Builds

We have well and truly just opened a big old can of worms. We know.


It is a question that has been asked be so many of our clients in the early stages of their project, as it is one of the biggest decisions of all. 'Should my home be timber frame or brick construction?'


Well, what we intend to do is highlight and answer some of the key questions people have about both methods, to try and help you make the decision.


Which is more popular?

It is estimated that over 70% of new build properties are traditional masonry walls. However, timber framed buildings are growing more and more popular.


Which is more durable?

Timber is a living product, meaning it is susceptible to rot, warp and other issues due to the more flexible nature of timber as a building material. However, this isn't to say that timber is written off straight away, if you pop down to your local country pub, there's a solid chance it is a timber frame and it has probably stood on that spot for many decades.


However, a new timber building can offer issues when fitting wet rooms for instance, as it is difficult to control movement of water when the entire building structure is susceptible to movement, so shower cubicles are recommended.


On the rot issue however, there are requirements listed that specify certain treatments to ensure longevity and continued integrity of the wood.


Masonry walls however do feel more durable. When you go to a masonry wall and give it a knock, you know get a more tangible impression of a solid build, this is of course entirely preferential and a properly constructed timber frame home with sufficient insulation should give you the feel of quality, but maybe not at the same level a masonry wall will.


Are timber-frame homes more noisy?

This depends on the construction and specification. If suitable precautions are taken to eliminate impact and airborne sounds, there should not be too much of a difference. However it is clear that the more dense concrete blocks, combined with insulation and a plasterboard finish will absorb more sound. It is a consideration to make that if you want your timber frame building to suppress sound to a level that is satisfactory to you, it may incur additional costs.





Are timber-frame homes more noisy?

This depends on the construction and specification. If suitable precautions are taken to eliminate impact and airborne sounds, there should not be too much of a difference. However it is clear that the more dense concrete blocks, combined with insulation and a plasterboard finish will absorb more sound. It is a consideration to make that if you want your timber frame building to suppress sound to a level that is satisfactory to you, it may incur additional costs.


Which is easier to build?


Masonry walls are built on site, meaning that raw materials are delivered and formed into the design following a set of drawings on site. Whereas a timber frame home is often prefabricated in a workshop, with precision equipment to ensure accuracy, then delivered on site in large sections.



This is beneficial, especially given our reputation for fantastic weather for building here in the UK... It ensures a quicker build time, meaning your site is less exposed to the elements, (many houses can be delivered, built and temporarily 'watertight' in less than a week using plastic sheeting!)


However there is a disadvantage to this prefabrication. It means your foundation has to be very accurate to ensure things fit exactly in place, with little margin for error. Masonry on the other hand is very forgiving and can accommodate inaccuracies in levels, foundation setting out and so on, whereas the prefabs are a precise business.


The national house building council (NHBC) estimate that using timber frame can save up to 3 months off your build time.


This is the big bonus to timber frame. It saves time! It gives you the ability to have a completed foundation and start to see your house taking shape in several days, as opposed to the laborious and slow process of laying masonry walls, brick by brick.


Which is more Green?

The higher density and mass of masonry walls mean they keep and retain heat better, meaning it is less difficult to keep the house warm, (if you ever have lived in an old mill or similar, with large thick brick walls, you know they hold that heat in, just like when you first move into a brick home, it will often be very cold, as the walls have not got any residual heat.


Timber frame however uses a sustainable material which theoretically has an endless supply and the production of timber actually removes CO2 from the atmosphere as the tree grows. This means a timber frame home has a reduced carbon footprint to masonry. Timber frames are also easier to make airtight, meaning that whilst their materials do not hold heat like a masonry wall, the heat that is inside the rooms is less likely to escape.


We'd always recommend using FSC of PEFC timber and ideally from a local, trusted supplier.


Which is more affordable?

Timber frame buildings typically work out more affordable, plus there is more certainty in your costs, with less unexpected expenses, especially when using a Structural Insulated Panel System (SIPS).


Which should I choose?

We know that all of the above questions will not necessarily make you come to a conclusion on which construction technique to adopt. There are big pros and cons to both methods. The speed and eco credentials of timber frame, the durability, sound and heat retention of masonry walls...


Some people will simply never be convinced with timber frame homes, some may say they just don't feel like a home, which is fine, but they certainly have their advantages.



If you are looking at building a new home, or adding an extension to where you live, we have 25 years experience in helping you through it. Tackling the big questions and ensuring you finish your project with a building which is on time, meeting your budget and impeccably designed.


Please get in touch if you'd like to discuss your project.

45 views