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CLT vs Timber Frame

CLT vs Timber Frame, author Antony Fanshawe, director at Lamella MMC Ltd

Image Courtesy of Stora Enso

The CLT superstructure is incredibly strong and ready to have doors, windows installed almost immediately. 

CLT vs Timber Frame?

We are often asked to beat a timber frame build price.

This will always be a challenge because timber frame is inherently a cheap building method whereas CLT is a high quality, low tolerance, immensely strong and high carbon sequestering material.

CLT panels are manufactured in highly controlled conditions with high precision CNC machines to very fine tolerances, whereas timber frames are assembled on site and have the same quality, materials handling and tolerance issues that plague masonry builds.

Timber frame will never be as strong as CLT. It will never be as precise as CLT. It will never be as pleasant to live and work in as CLT. It is not as carbon sequestering as CLT. It cannot be repurposed like CLT.

A CLT built envelope is easier to insulate, monitor and control and is much more likely to self-extinguish while retaining its structural integrity.

Timber frame’s only advantage over CLT is that the build cost is lower in some circumstances. But, even though CLT is a much better performing material on virtually every important criterion, we can come surprisingly close on cost especially on larger and more complex projects, or where our archetypes are specified.

The real difficulty with building with timber frame is that at the end of the day the client will always have a cheaply built timber frame building.

As Henry Royce (Rolls-Royce) said “The quality will remain long after the price is forgotten.”