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Ask Homestead: What Are the Pros and Cons of Building a Timber Frame Hangar?

August 4, 2023
timber frame hanger

If you know us, you know we could go on forever about the benefits of building a timber frame airplane hangar. Like any timber frame structure, timber frame hangars are strong, versatile, and spacious!

Like any structure, though, timber frame hangars aren’t perfect for everyone. We mean, they’re pretty darn close, but it all depends on your preference. To find your preference, you’ll need to weigh some pros and cons.

“But Homestead,” you may ask, “what exactly are the pros and cons of building a timber frame hangar?” Well, let’s explore a few of them.

Pro: Timber Frame Hangars Require Little Maintenance

Metal airplane hangars take a lot to stay in functional shape. They take a lot of pressure washing, and the caustic cleaners you’ll need to use to keep them from corroding or rusting can:

● Wear down the integrity of your metal structure

● Damage whatever you’re storing in the hangar

● Ultimately be harmful to your health

pros and cons of a timber frame hangar

Timber frame hangars require less attention and maintenance than a typical metal airplane hangar. There are natural finishes, like Heritage that you can apply to your timbers to keep them virtually maintenance free or you can leave them natural and they will age on their own not affecting their strength. Keep in mind if you paint or stain the timbers you will likely have to reapply years down the road, so essentially your maintenance is whatever you would like it to be.

Con: Certain Timber Species Are More Prone to Rot and Decay

For as much as we evangelize the positive properties of timber, we’re also aware of the negatives. There are certain species of timber, for one, that are more prone to rot and decay than others. This is especially dependent on the climate in which your timber frame hangar is being raised.

Species such as pine may require sealers or paint to maintain their structural integrity if used in a timber frame structure. It’s also not a good idea to use super-green timber, as the moisture content can lead to checking (cracking) and warping over time.

These "cons" are the reason timber framers have such high standards of grading when choosing the proper timber for all projects. Species like pine are not likely to be used in a large structural frame such as a hangar. The use of Glulam's and Douglas fir timber help to ensure the longevity and strength of the timber frame hangar.

Pro: Timber Frame Hangars are Incredibly Durable

Metal’s vulnerability to corrosion and rust already provides an element that ultimately compromises the structure of a metal airplane hangar. While metal can be incredibly strong, it has a great deal of give, meaning that it won’t always hold up to extremes in elements.

timber frame airplane hanger being raised

Timber frame hangars that are expertly designed and joined provide excellent structural protection against the elements. Many wood species are stronger than fabricated metal, which means a heavy timber structure can stand up to most anything. This means they’ll stand tall for generations without buckling, bending, or shifting.

Con: Timber Frame Hangars Can Be Quite Expensive

For all of the positives that heavy timber construction can provide, you’re likely to pay a premium price. While metal hangar construction isn’t exactly cheap, the design and build of a timber frame hangar can be very expensive. This cost means that a timber frame hangar may not be the right choice for everyone. This purchase is after all an investment to house another of your investments, your aircraft.

Ultimately, the cost of the design and build of your timber frame hangar depends heavily on what you’ll be looking for. Elements that factor heavily into the cost of a timber frame hangar include:

● The size of your build

● The complexity of the joinery

● Requirements dictated by building codes and structural engineers

● The species of timber you choose

While it’s not hard to keep your costs low if you stick to your budget, it’s even easier to go over and beyond it. When you want to stick to a specific budget for your timber frame hangar build, it’s suggested that you work with folks who are knowledgeable in the art of timber framing.

Speaking of folks who are knowledgeable in the art of timber framing, our craftsmen and designers are ready, willing, and able to help you create the timber frame hangar you’ve been looking for. Call us today at (931) 484-7059 or use our contact form to get in touch regarding your timber frame project.

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