Choosing a Species of Timber For Your Home

Eugene Vargas

Once you've decided to build your own timber frame home, you'll find there are plenty more decisions for you to make. Among those decisions is which species of wood you should use for your timber framer when constructing your home.

There are various types of suitable wood that you can use, each coming with its own set of pros and cons. You may also need to take into account suitability, cost, sustainability and availability. Some of the more common species of wood used for timber frame homes are cedar, cypress, Douglas fir, white and red oak and white pine. Before you go ahead and decide that cedar or white pine framing is the way to go, take a look at a few factors that might influence your decision.

Suitability and strength

You can't just go ahead and choose any random wood when building a timber frame home. One feature you need to consider is strength. There are some woods, such as oak, which are strong and hard. Unfortunately, oak also has a tendency to chip, crack and twist. It's most commonly used to make the pegs that had your home together. While there are other strong and stable species, such as Douglas fir, cedar and cypress don't have the same load capacity.

You should also think about whether or not the timbers will be exposed to the exterior. If that's the case, your choice becomes limited to a small number of options, such as white oak, cypress and Douglas fir.


Another factor for you to take into account is, of course, cost, which can vary greatly. You may have a number of choices for the species of wood for building your beam and post, with the cost factoring into your decision.


You have the option of buying your timber from a logging company that promotes sustainable forest management. That means that logged parts of forest are replanted with suitable vegetation and trees and the area's ecosystem isn't then destroyed or damaged. 


Where in the country you live is a significant factor in terms of which materials you choose for building your home. The most affordable route would be for you to use materials that are available locally, as the cost involved in transporting beams and posts across the country can be substantial and cost-prohibitive. However, there are some species of trees that grow almost throughout the entire country and some woods have similar properties. So finding a suitable species available locally shouldn't be an issue in most areas.

Contact a local company to learn more about your options for framing, like pine framing.