Prior to the 1900s, most barns were built with timber frames (also known as post and beam) forming very strong structures built to withstanding harsh storms and heavy loads of animal feed. Timber framing is the method of creating framed structures of heavy timber joined together with various joints. A timber frame barn is built to last a lifetime if not longer, but there are many things to consider when designing a barn.
Horse barns and stables often work on a 10×12 or 12×12 grid for interior stalls, tack rooms and wash stalls. Storing hay in the loft provides its own set of challenges. Years ago, people would just put up summer beams and timber joists and throw as much hay up in the loft as they could. Today, as with most everything that technology touches, hay bales are packed more compact and weigh much more than they did years ago as well as all the changes in building codes. It is now common practice to design a hay loft so that it can support a live load of 100 pounds per square foot. The intermediate posts that are next to the stall doors are increased in size as well as the trusses to help improve load carrying ability.
Authentic timber framing is an art that can be traced back many generations. Today, much of the work is still completed by hand, using traditional tools like chisels, mallets, and beetles. The timber girts, purlins, plates, and posts are joined with inadvertently cut interlocking joints crafted with tenons (tabs), mortises (slots) and wooden pegs called trunnels. There are several different types of joints used during the construction process. Most commonly used are the mortise and tenon joints, but there are many more like a double through mortise and tenon, brace mortise and tenon, dovetail, shouldered mortise and tenon and tongue and fork. Each type of joint has its own design purpose. Today, most timber frame structures are designed to use new CAD (Computer Aided Design) technology, this actually helps them design for and spread the load properly. Most rustic framed horse barns are constructed with Hemlock for country barns; and elegant stable frames out of smooth and highly finished Douglas Fir beams. Hemlock and Douglas Fir are the best types of wood species to use in your barn as they are less prone to rotting and because the horses do not like to curb on them (horses enjoy eating white pine like chocolate).
There is better way to celebrate the beauty of wood than to showcase it through the structure of your house or barn. The beauty and elegance of Timber Frame Construction methods have been in use for more than 2,000 years with some of the earliest examples dating back to ancient Roman and Egyptian civilizations. It is and elegant timeless classic style that has lived the ages.