In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Wood Frame Construction

  • Introduction
  • Earthfast Construction
  • Early Vernacular Forms

Architecture Planning and Preservation Wood Frame Construction
Miles Lewis
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 June 2022
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780190922467-0076


True wood frame construction is distinct from earthfast construction. In earthfast construction the main columns and possibly other elements, such as palisading, are partially buried in the ground and gain rigidity from this. A frame, by contrast, is braced, and even if some elements happen to enter the ground this is not the main source of its stability. The box frame, in particular, is like a box in that it could, in principle, be picked up and moved without collapsing. Therefore, it may rest upon the ground, upon a masonry plinth, or upon stumps or piles. The topics that follow relate principally to true frame construction, although earthfast construction is also referenced. Buildings whose principal structure is of steel or other framing, or whose external walls are of load-bearing masonry are not considered in this article, although many of the same references will apply.


Timber framing is almost universal, but its manifestation in a given location is governed by the same factors as for construction in other materials, like masonry, earth, or grasses. The first is the type and quality of the material available in the given location, which tends to remain largely unchanged over time. The second is the tools and techniques available for working it, which evolve over time and are specific to a particular culture, The third is also cultural but not necessarily technical—the habits and prejudices of the builders, such as the preference for facherbau in German-speaking areas.

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