Framing is a fundamental of construction. Therefore, it can be helpful to understand the history of framing and how it has evolved in terms of materials, uses, and techniques. The frame can be considered the skeleton of a building. Its "rough carpentry" concept is "the basic building skill of new construction and almost every remodeling addition project," ("Framing"). The history of framing in construction does not extend far into the ancient world, and most framing techniques are relatively modern. Ancient methods of construction often included bricks, stones, and concrete assembled in a frame-free manner. Framing from the perspective of construction almost always refers to the use of timber.
Although not used in most monumental architecture, framing in timber was not uncommon in Roman and Greek building. Reserved mainly for roof elements, timber framing came to relatively common use in beam and post roofing somewhere between 500 BCE and 100 BCE (Blue Ridge Timberwrights). Because wood deteriorates more rapidly than the stones, bricks, and concrete that formed the overall bulk of ancient buildings, it is impossible to know for sure whether smaller edifices would have used timber framing. Turan posits that "the use of timber for construction starts from the very early days of tool-making," and even complex framing systems might be very old indeed (187).
Timber framing became much more common in the medieval era in Europe and Asia. Stone foundations would provide the footing for wooden frames, and the frames were joined both to each other and to the foundation. "During the ninth and tenth centuries, Europeans developed excellent building skills with characteristics we recognize today as timber framing," (Blue Ridge Timberwrights). Similarly, Japanese temples were being constructed with timber frames in the 7th to 9th centuries. As the Blue Ridge Timberwrights point out, the decorative elements of wooden frames differed between European and Asian buildings, but their joinery elements were "strikingly similar."
Timber framing began a sort of revolution of construction in medieval England, where landmark cathedrals that still stand bear timber frame construction. Even lesser-known cathedrals and commercial buildings bore the stamp of expert carpentry fused with architectural know-how. This testifies to the evolution in construction techniques and materials, built to last through multiple centuries if not millennia. According to the Original Barn Company, "of all the buildings in Britain that have survived from pre-Reformation times, 90 per cent are timber framed." Some of the early English cathedrals from the 11th and 12th centuries used timber frames and they still stand, as do multiple market towns that were "built predominantly of timber frame," (Original Barn Company).
The oldest examples of timber-framed buildings in Western Europe are found in England, but central Europe also boasted fine specimens of timber-framed dwellings. During the Renaissance era, timber framing flourished throughout not just Western but also Eastern Europe. Examples of timber-framed construction in edifies throughout the world have sustained the test of time, testifying to the tremendous power that framing has in building construction.
After the 17th century, New World building constructors borrowed timber-framing techniques from their European counterparts. "In 1607 English settlers in Virginia used the area's abundant timber to build an assortment of buildings within the walls of Jamestown," (Blue Ridge Timberwrights). Colonial Jamestown and Williamsburg were built with mainly timber frame construction. Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, is a timber framed house (Blue Ridge Timberwrights). It would be the New World that framing genuinely took off as a force in modern construction. Especially given the greater abundance of virginal forests in the American colonies, builders had ample reason to take advantage of wood for use in construction.
Wood framing would become the preferred method of building for its economy of labor and materials. Lumber was not the only known material used in framing, as concrete and brick could be used; however, "lumber is by far the most popular construction framing material because it's readily available, easy to work with, and comparatively less expensive than other framing materials," ("Framing"). As Turan puts it, the "process of formation, or the evolution of timber construction, has been gradual and, overall, a progressive change and development towards an economy of materials and labor," (Turan 175-176).
Moreover, changes to the social structure fueled the growth of timber framing in both the United States and Europe. Personal homes were more apt to have timber frames due to their efficiency and economy. Private timber-framed dwellings sprouted up throughout England…