Timber and Steel

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steel tie rod truss

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.

timber and steel truss

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: 

  • aesthetics 
  • 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. 

steel web trusses

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. 


Balancing both

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. 

timber and steel stairs

Examples of timber and steel


Steel Plates

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.

tension rod plates

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.

tension rod truss

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.

steel tie rod truss

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. 

steel and wood posts


Stair design is just one of the  more obvious areas where timber and steel are integrated.  Head over here to our stairs gallery to see examples of our work or here to a past blog in timber stairs.

steel stair stringer


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.