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INSULATING A TIMBER FRAME HOME

Panel systems offer structural support and energy performance in one, but there are many products – and price points – to choose from. Tim Doherty explores the key benefits and the differences between them
Knauf’s mineral wool insulation being installed between timber studs. If needed, a service void can be battened out

Last month I focused on the energy performance of masonry building systems. This time, it’s the turn of timber frame – and there are some key design differences between the two. Unless you are thinking about solid wall construction, the fundamental distinction between masonry and timber frame is the non-negotiable need to preserve a cavity between the inner timber structural panel and outer cladding skins, which must be kept free for ventilation purposes. With brick-and-block, the gap can be usefully insulated to boost a masonry structure’s performance while attempting to prevent the total wall thickness from becoming too great. That’s not the case with timber frame, where the structural panel does everything: taking load by supporting floors and roofs, providing rigidity to stop the structure from a lateral twist and containing the insulation required for acoustic and thermal performance.

The physical properties of a timber panel are important. The selection and mix of the individual components should be treated much like a formula or recipe – some vanilla, others more exotic, with a staggering range of prices from a big supplier pool all competing for your business.

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About Build It

The October edition of Build It magazine brings you a wealth of information to help make a success of your self build, renovation, extension or conversion project – including: • A 1960s property transformed into a characterful home (page 22) • 10 tips to make the most of your self-build plot (page 62) • The best glazed doors for your project (page 75) • Complete guide to building an eco home (page 81) • How to get the planners on side (page 105) … and more!
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