The North American timber frame housing industry

Tracy Davis O'Connell, Paul M. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The craft of timber framing dates to antiquity. The devotion to this craft in North America led to the formation of the Timber Framers Guild of North America (TFGNA) in 1984. The market for timber frame homes is highly specialized and little is known about the timber frame industry or its customers. A comprehensive database of manufacturers was developed, in cooperation with the Timber Frame Business Council (TFBC), from specialty magazines (Timber Frame Homes and Timber Homes Illustrated), and TFGNA and TFBC member lists. All timber frame companies in the United States and Canada were identified and surveyed in the fall of 1996 to profile the industry and to examine wood material usage. In 1996, the timber frame industry in the United States and Canada consisted of an estimated 216 firms that produced about $133.8 million in sales of timber frames, and employed about 1,710 workers. The northeastern United States dominates the industry with nearly half of the respondents and almost 50 percent of timber frame sales. Over three-quarters of the study's 132 timber frame respondents have 7 or fewer employees and 95 percent use in-house sales staff. Pine is the most used species (35%), followed by oak (25%), and fir (23%). Many timber frame companies have used alternatives to new solid-sawn timbers in their timber frames. Recycled timbers have been used by 56.2 percent of respondents and glued-laminated (glulam) timbers by 26.7 percent. Potential barriers, as perceived by respondents, to the increased use and/or marketing of these timbers are high prices and supply for recycled timbers and the acceptance of glulam timbers by timber frame companies and customers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-42
Number of pages7
JournalForest Products Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Forestry
  • General Materials Science
  • Plant Science


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