Combining materials like timber and steel is a clever way to achieve desired looks but also desired performance. Read on to learn more…
We are timber framers first and foremost. We love natural solid wood. We design, produce and install timber frames with traditional joinery, where the structural support comes through the joints. We love that wood is infinitely flexible – it can be integrated with lots of materials, such as steel, for different looks and feels. To build with efficiency, durability and quality in mind means being flexible and open to different concepts.
Craftsmanship and expertise in timber and steel
It takes craftsmanship and expertise to use the right material in the right place in a structure. In early design stages we are thinking about how to exploit the full potential of each material. We predict the challenges that may arise when combining materials such as timber and steel. Innovations in hybrid-timber construction systems are constantly expanding the new design possibilities of wood. (see this great article from Naturally Wood)
Why use timber and steel together?
Steel is used with timber for 2 reasons:
- essential additional structural support of the timber.
Steel can be visibly incorporated into a timber frame for purely aesthetic reasons, for example, if the client is interested in a frame with an industrial look. Visible metal is certainly very on trend right now.
Additional Structural Support
Timber frames with wide-spanning trusses, hammer beam trusses, or some softer woods may require steel for structural support. Where steel is required but the client does not want it to be visible, we work to design the frame so the steel is hidden.
In such cases, the steel is acting as a facilitator or accessory to the timber structure. It can contribute or even be the key to a viable timber/steel solution where a timber-only solution would not be appropriate.
Where steel is required structurally and the client wants it to be visible the right aesthetic is crucial. In the modern timber industry we love using our expertise to work with structural engineers to bring the architect’s vision to life by integrating timber and steel.
We constantly try to ensure compatibility between timber and steel, structurally and aesthetically. Steel shows undeniable mechanical properties and versatility that justify its long-term widespread use within the construction industry.
Examples of timber and steel
Thick steel sheets are used for connections by fastening to the beams with bolts. Plates can help support heavier structural loads than timber alone, which allows for wide-spanned truss designs. They can also be used to provide shear resistance and resistance against other types of force.
Steel Tie Rod
A thin steel rod used to resist tension in a truss. The steel rods can be hidden inside wooden, or on show as a bare rod. In the photograph above, steel tension rods were inside the 32ft truss with powder coated acorn nuts and structural plates left to see.
In this project custom structural steel was used to add architectural flair and a strong industrial aesthetic.
The gorgeous home has a hybrid wood metal engineered truss with open web trusses. Seen here in the early stages of build was the impressive black powder coated 2-way underslung tie-rod tension truss in what will be the living room. It became affectionately known as the “snowflake under-tension truss” by the crew. We can’t wait to see the finished photos as this home nears completion.
This recent project in the very early stages of build really shows the quality of both the timber and the metal – everything is exposed for the eye to see.
Get in touch
There are multiple reasons why one would choose to combine timber and steel in a project. One of the obvious reasons is that it is simply beautiful. Timber and steel compliment each other and they rarely go unnoticed. Visible connections and fully displayed structures make a statement about honest and thoughtful design. At International Timberframers, whilst we are solid natural wood lovers, we believe strongly in designing with purpose. We’d love to hear from you if you’re looking for ideas on how to use steel in your timber frame project.