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What Is "Half-Timbered" Construction?


Decorative half-timbering

Decorative half-timbering

Illustration: ArtToday.com

A half-timbered building has exposed wood framing. The spaces between the wooden timbers are filled with plaster, brick, or stone.

In Medieval times, many European houses were half-timbered. The structural timbers were exposed. In the United States, harsh winters made half-timbered construction impractical. The plaster and masonry filling between the timbers could not keep out cold drafts. Builders began to cover exterior walls with wood or masonry.

During the 1800s, it became fashionable to imitate Medieval building techniques. Timbers were applied to exterior wall surfaces as decoration. False half-timbering became a popular type of ornamentation in many nineteenth and twentieth century house styles, including:


In the main square of Chester, England, Victorian Tudors with false half-timbering stand unapologetically alongside authentic Medieval buildings with half-timbered construction. Can you tell which buildings are older?

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