About Post & Beam Barns and Construction Info
A Post & Beam Barn can be described as a barn that's built using heavy wooden
timbers, joint together with ether carved wood joinery (such as pegged mortise &
tenon) or metal heavy duty plates & hardware, forming an exposed structural
In most Post & Beam Barns, the whole frame, including posts, girts, headers,
loft joists and even rafters are build with different sizes of heavy wooden beams. This gives
the barn a very distinctive and appealing look. This kind of construction
is far more expensive than a regular pole barn, but does provide a very solid
barn frame and a feel of a well & a heavy built structure. The timbers
used in a Post & Beam barn are generally larger compared to a conventional
The family of Post & Beam Barns includes well known names such as Timber
Frame Barns and Mortise & Tenon Barns. It's important to understand that
Timber-Frame Barns and Mortise & Tenon Barns are both built with heavy timbers throughout construction, and either of them may be called the Post & Beam
Barn. It's the difference in the way the beams are connected is what
separates a Timber Frame Barn from a Mortise & Tennon Barn.
Even though different builders might use different type of timber connection
techniques, it's generally known that in a Timber Frame Barn, the beams may be
either connected with heavy duty metal brackets or with mortise & tenon
joinery. In a Mortise & Tenon Barn however (as the name implies), the
beams are always connected using mortise & tenon joinery technique (see
image) where posts and beams
are both notched out to create a "male" & "female" connectors and then held
together with wooden pegs.
In Mortise & Tenon joinery connection, the "male" projecting end is called
tenon and a "female" opened slot is called Mortise. The mortise & tenon
joint provides a very strong connection and has been used for thousands of years
all around the world.
As shown here, "StrongTie" metal plate brackets are used to connect beams in
one of the Post & Beam Barns. Some builders may use a combination of mortise & tenon and metal plate
connectors on the same barn. In such case, you may call this barn whatever
you like. The proper name though, in our opinion, would be a Post & Beam Barn, which
basically describes that the particular barn is built with heavy wooden timbers,
but does not tell you how these timbers are connected together.
Other builders might build only barn walls with heavy timbers and the rest of
the barn with lighter material. They may build the roof with either
regular trusses or 2x8/2x10 rafters and the loft might be built with 2x10 floor
joists. This is all just fine, but we can not call this type of barn a
True Post & Beam barn, no matter what the builder might call it.
Here is a sample of a Timber Frame Barn showing a mortise and tonon joinery
being used throughout construction. This image was provided by Vermont
Timber Works company. Please visit their website to see more images &
information about Timber Frame Barns.
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