Wood Frame

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Building Material

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A representation of a wood frame house and a look at the finished product in the inset

Wood has long been a reliable, sturdy and easy to use building material both for ship-building and home construction. Wood is readily available and centuries of craftsmanship have gone into its use as a modern building material. Wood has a high strength to weight ratio making it resilient to earthquakes and strong for use in small to mid rise structures.

A larger wood structure with commercial retail space below and residential spaces on higher floors

Internal and external cladding is added to the vertical skeletal structure, called studs, to suit the builder’s requirements. Weight from this cladding (drywall internally and siding or other sheathing externally) is evenly distributed among many vertical connections rather than a few large capacity connections. Many components of a structure such as walls and roof trusses can be prefabricated at an alternate location and then brought to the site for more rapid and efficient assembly into the main structure.

Roofing systems are supported by wooden trusses which are usually clad with plywood sheets for rigidity and to support the selected weather-proof surface material for the roof. Roofing surfaces on wood frame structures are usually, but not restricted to, asphalt roofing shingles, cedar shakes (particularly on the west coast of North America), ceramic or brick roofing tiles, and even metal.

Modern construction techniques ensure that adequate ventilation is provided for wood frame constructs after they have been covered so that moisture will not be trapped to potentially damage the skeletal structure of the building through rot or warping.

Use in Building Construction

The use of wood in building construction is prevalent since wood frames are strong, durable, easy to insulate and are cost effective. While wood is an ideal material to build houses and low rise dwellings, wood frames are not suitable for high rise structures. [1]

Concrete is considered a more suitable option primary for its ability to dampen accoustics. Resulting in a much quieter building.

Concrete is also considered to be more durable though it is more expensive. As a result, while wood framed buildings are a cost effective means of construction, they don't hold their value to the same degree as buildings constructed from alternative materials.[2]

When Buildings Fly

The maiden and only flight of the Spruce Goose

Another option for wood construction was made by the Hughes Aircraft Company during WW II. The US War Department issued a contract to produce a large cargo aircraft. Aluminum and other aircraft metals were in short supply, so to conserve metal, H-4 Hercules aircraft would be made mostly of wood. Because of this fact, the aircraft was nicknamed the "Spruce Goose" despite being mostly of birch. To this day, it is still the largest 'flying boat' aircraft ever made sporting a wingspan of 320 feet and 8 Pratt and Whitney Propeller engines. It stood just over 79 feet tall, which is the equivalent of a ten story building. By the way, a US NFL football playing field is 100 yards, or 300 feet, not including the end zones.

Three such aircraft were originally requested but only one was ever built. It made its maiden test flight on November 2, 1947, more than two years after the end of the war. It flew for about one mile and never flew again. It survives in good condition at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon, USA.

Examples of Wood Framed Condominiums

Sausalito - 122 East Third Street, North Vancouver, BC

Sausalito is a four story wood frame apartment building in the Lower Lonsdale area of the City of North Vancouver. The area commonly referred to as North Vancouver in fact comprises two distinct jurisdictions; one is the City of North Vancouver, the other the District of North Vancouver. The City of North Vancouver is a relatively small area, encompassing roughly 12 square kilometers and home to approximately 50,000 people.

The eight or nine blocks closest to the waterfront are known as the Lower Lonsdale area. Shops are centered at Lonsdale Quay and along Lonsdale Avenue, one of the main business streets in the City of North Vancouver. Lonsdale Avenue runs north-south, bisecting the city.

Ivy - 1265 Marine Drive, North Vancouver

The Ivy is a mixed use building located in North Vancouver's Norgate Park neighbourhood. Built in 2012 by the Executive Group of Companies, The Ivy on Marine is a "boutique" building of just 24 residential suites atop four commercial storefront spaces facing onto Marine Drive. All 24 residences went on sale May 15th, 2011. Currently, 18 units have been sold - all remaining six units are 1-bedroom suites.

The Ivy was designed by Vancouver architect Chris Chung, of CMTC Architect Inc. It is a west coast contemporary design, fitting with the guidelines laid down by the District of North Vancouver's Marine Drive Task Force. It is built on a concrete perimeter, and constructed with a wood frame. The exterior of the building is a mix of Hardieplank, and brick veneer with cedar accents on the top floor.

Metropolitan 305 Lonsdale Avenue, North Vancouver, BC

The popular Lower Lonsdale area of North Vancouver is home to The Metropolitan, also know as The Met.

The building is located on Lonsdale Avenue and 3rd Street. Built in 1999, The Met offers 89 homes that are well maintained and professionally managed.

Maintenance fees include garbage pickup, gas, hot water, gardening, and management.

Features of The Met include in suite laundry, and secure underground parking.

Crescent Walk 13200 Pacific Promenade, Playa Vista, CA

Crescent Walk is a four story building with 116 units developed and designed by AVRP Studios. It is located in the Playa Vista area southeast of downtown Los Angeles, near the shore of the Pacific Ocean. Contemporary single level and multi-level loft style condominiums are offered at Crescent Walk.

Located in the Playa Vista area nearby Marina Del Ray, the convenient location offers ocean shore convenience with easy access to Santa Monica to the north, Inglewood to the east, and Hawthorne to the south. Downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood are about a 30 minute drive from Playa Vista.


  1. Canadian Wood Council
  2. The Globe and Mail

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