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The Difference Between Log Cabins, Timber Framing and Post & Beam

Updated: Jul 8

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 wall
Rounded logs make up the walls of this old home out in the country.

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.

Timber homes however, are built using timbers that have been sawn into a rectangular shape.

Posts and Beams used in timber framing 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.

rustic modern craftsman home back porch
Back Patio View of a Modern Craftsman Hybrid Home w/ Rustic Touches

Although timber homes are more popular in architecture, that doesn’t mean log homes are inferior, just that you will be limited to a very rustic feel and have less options and flexibility in your floor plan. But if that is the look and feel you desire, especially in the case of winter cabins and summer getaways, it can be a heartwarming home. Just make sure you keep log homes very well lit, as they have darker finishes than walls with sheetrock. Of course, stonework can be integrated into log homes just as it can with any hybrid home.

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.

modern timber. home living room with stairs
Although this home has an abundance of wood finishes and timbers, it still feels modern.

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.

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.

The primary distinction is the difference between round vs squared as was stated at the start of this article. If you love the look of log homes, but want the flexibility and options of a hybrid floor plan, you can integrate log posts that will give that cabin feel, without looking out of place - yet, you can still use squared timbers, perhaps tapered even in certain situations.

Logs can look rustic and modern all at the same time when used with other building techniques!

log car port patio on a hybrid floor plan
This Hybrid Floor Plan uses rounded log posts and even kneebraces to increase the rustic factor, but inside mostly square timbers.

Interested in learning more? Visit our Youtube Channel for more timber knowledge!

Learn In-Depth Design Insights on Hybrid Timber Framing with our free Online Flip-Book version of "The Art of Hybrid Timber Framing" - also available as a hardcover.


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