Do timber frame houses creak more than regular houses?

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Timber framed houses do tend to creak and make more noise than traditional brick and block properties. The main reason for this is quite simple. The entire internal skin of these properties is made of wood. As the humidity and temperature fluctuates, the wooden components expand and contract.

The wood will often make sounds as it moves. Also, after a period of movement, there could be new creaking floorboards, joists, doors, and any other timber that has been affected.

Even in a standard masonry-built house, you will often hear creaking and other noises. This is mainly in timber installations, such as floors, staircases and even the roof.

do timber frame houses creak more than regular houses?

In floors, you could have floorboards that creak as well as the joists below. The staircase has many areas that could cause noise, including the treads and risers (this is the main culprit). Also, movement in the string, and even where the stairs join the flooring and joists on the upper floor.

The reason this creaking happens, is due to moisture content in the wood fluctuating. As this happens, the wood expands and contracts. This can lead to movement and surfaces rubbing together. Also, when timber shrinks, smooth fixings like nails are able to move in their holes, which again can cause rubbing and squeaking.

Timber frame houses, can potentially have all of the same issues as a traditional build. However, you can also add the entire internal timber frame into the equation. As all of this timber expands and contracts, it can create creaking noises as well.

Other potential issues with timber framed homes

In this section, we will look at some of the other disadvantages you may have with a timber framed home. There are a few things worth considering, and following this we will look at some of the positives:

  • Other issues caused by movement – As we already mentioned, timber framed homes are more prone to creaking than a house made of standard construction. This is simply due to more movement. However, creaking is not the only issue this causes.

    Many owners of timber framed homes complain about other issues caused by movement. This is especially true in new build.

    Things like doors sticking, showers leaking, and cracks in plaster due to movement are quite common.

    If these issues happen within 2 years of the house’s completion date. The house builder has a responsibility to come and make any repairs. This is often known as the snagging period.

  • Lifespan of a timber framed house – In general, timber frame manufacturers will guarantee the frame for anywhere between 10-40 years. However, they are made of wood, and this is at a greater risk of things like rot and woodworm.

    In the US, where timber framed homes are far more common, a general consensus is 90-100 years before there are any significant problems.

    Obviously, there are many factors that could affect how long a timber framed house lasts, including proper maintenance. However, it is pretty safe to say, they probably won’t last as long as most solid masonry houses.

  • Harder to get a mortgage on – Whilst there are companies that will give a mortgage on a timber framed house, it is classed as non-standard construction. This means that you will have a much smaller percentage of companies willing to lend on this type of property.

Some positives of timber framed homes

Despite being slightly creakier, and a little harder to get a mortgage on, there are still many positives with a timber framed house. Some of the main advantages can be seen below.

  • They are very energy efficient – The entire internal skin is timber framed, and internal walls are either timber framed or standard stud walls. Either way, both are well insulated. The prefabricated panels have insulation built into them, and the stud wall insulation will generally be either sheet, or rockwool insulation.

  • They can be built more quickly – The internal skin of a timber framed house is usually prefabricated, numbered, and ready to fix together (A bit like a jigsaw).

    This means, the internal frame can be constructed extremely quickly. It is also more cost effective, from both a materials and labour perspective.

    Obviously this doesn’t affect the homeowner unless they are doing a self-build. In which case, they could build their home faster and probably at a lower cost.

  • Lower environmental impact – Timber is a sustainable building material. This is mainly because it is naturally renewable. When a tree is cut down, another can be planted in its place. This means it is sustainable in the long term.

    Also as we mentioned previously, timber framed homes are very energy efficient over their lifetime, so this adds to lower co2 emissions.

Conclusion

Timber frame houses can creak and make noises due to expansion and contraction. These types of noises can happen in any timber construction, as it is a porous material.

This means you also have similar noises in standard construction. However, the obvious thing to remember here, is timber framed houses, simply contain more wood.

More wood, equals more chance of movement, this is just common sense. With that said, a small amount of extra movement and occasional creaking, is not necessarily a reason to avoid buying a timber framed house.

In order to decide if a timber framed house is right for you to buy (or even build). You will need to weigh up the pros and cons. There are certainly good arguments on both sides. So, in many cases this will be a personal decision.