Clients often ask us for information about the R-value (a measure of thermal resistance of a material) of the walls in our solid timber homes, and how this compares with the R-value of the walls in our TimberMode (timber framed) homes. Unfortunately the R-value is not the best tool to determine the warmest timber home in this case – what you really want to know is the overall thermal performance of the home!
How are solid timber homes different?
Solid timber homes have a particular quirk that makes a big difference to the thermal performance of a home – thermal mass. This is the ability of a material to retain heat and release it later. If we just look at the walls of our solid timber homes and compare their R-value with the conventionally framed, insulated and lined walls of our TimberMode homes, the TimberMode walls have the higher R-value. The thermal mass in our solid timber homes provides a measurable boost to the thermal efficiency of the home, which is recognised in the Building Code, even though the R-value doesn’t take it into account.
As an added bonus, solid timber walls also help regulate a home’s humidity by absorbing and releasing moisture (much like it does with warmth).
So, Which Should I Choose?
So, if we consider the thermal efficiency of a solid timber home against a conventional light framed home with batts for insulation (like our TimberMode homes) of the same overall design, the solid timber home will perform as well if not better than a conventionally framed home, and essentially be the warmest timber home of the two. This is backed by a study conducted at Lincoln University that compares the overall thermal efficiency of both types of construction (we can send you the paper – email us). We’ve also discussed the topic in this earlier blog post.
Whichever style you choose – solid timber or TimberMode – you will have a lovely warm, new home. You might be better making your decision based on aesthetics, location, who will build your home, etc.
If you are interested in customising your home to really get the best thermal efficiency you can, or if you want to use different claddings and linings, TimberMode is going to be the best fit for you.
We generally recommend to our kitset clients to go with solid timber, as it’s much easier to construct than TimberMode. Timbermode homes suit builders or people with good building experience, or clients who intend to hire a builder to look after the entire build.