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Is there a post and beam construction and earthquakes advantage?

Post and beam construction has several significant advantages over concrete and masonry construction. And especially when considering post and beam construction and earthquakes!

To correctly understand what's possible, one needs to understand the forces at play during an earthquake. Since the ground moves during an earthquake, this movement will be transferred to the building.

As the building structure receives these movements, if it cannot withstand the force of the movement - the building will collapse!

Heavier materials in the building mean that greater forces must be withstood - lighter building materials mean that lesser forces must be withstood.

Of course, the strength of the building materials and the connections are also considerations as well as the weight of the building materials.

Post and beam or timber frame construction uses structural members of wood. In general, these structural members will have about the same member strength as concrete that is commonly used in construction.

However, this is one area where post and beam construction excels - timber's weight is considerably lighter that concrete. Therefore, timber's "strength to weight" ratio will be much better than concrete.

That means that post and beam members are lighter weight but have approximately the same strength as concrete. While this appears to be an advantage for post and beam, this will only be so if the bracing and structure stability are good.

What about post and beam construction and earthquakes and structural stability?

While reinforced concrete and masonry construction attempts to provide suitable reinforcing at the tops and bottoms of the columns, sufficient reinforcing may or may not be designed and installed to withstand the horizontal forces transmittd during an earthquake.

The masonry infill in reinforced concrete construction does give stability to the structure. However, in an earthquake, the earthquake horizontal forces create diagonal forces that cause stress to the concrete columns at the connections, possibly causing failure if sufficient reinforcement is not provided.

Post and beam construction deals with structural stability in these three ways:

Post and beam construction and earthquakes resistant construction utilizes triangular, diaphram and tensioning bracing.

In post and beam construction, to prevent the building frame from distorting, triangular knee-bracing is used.

Knee-bracing consists of short-length wood members that bisect the corner of a post and beam frame at a 45-degree angle and provide it stability.

Knee braces are most commonly located at the outside corners that accomodate the infill material that adds to the structural stability.

Diaphram bracing or diaphragm infill bracing in post and beam consruction or timber frame construction adds to the ability of the frame to be more rigid due to the infill material's ability to withstand distortion. This ability means the post and beam frame is more rigid.

Plywood sheathing, fiberboard and rigid foam panels are examples of diaphragm bracing. Solid log and timber infills also create a structure that resists distortion, assuming they are properly pinned together.

Tensioning bracing involves the utilization of taunt wires or metal "T's" that span oposite corners and provide resistance and prevent the structure from distorting.

Crucial to the post and beam consruction stability or timber frame construction and stability are the fasteners used and their spacing.

For example, many of the structural failures experienced during Florida's Hurricane Andrew happened because of inadequate nailing for the roofing plywood - 18" or 24" O.C., for example, where code may have required 12" O.C.

Designed and constructed correctly, post and beam construction and timber frame construction provide significant advantages over reinforced concrete construction, espcially when considering post and beam and earthquakes safety issues.

For architects and engineers and post and beam construction and earthquakes, you need these design resources:

If you are a designer and are investigating the design differences and advantages of post and beam construction and timber frame construction, you should have the supportive technical resources to provide you with the design information you need.

Check out the professional resources below relating to post and beam construction and earthquakes and the design factors you need to know to protect and save lives.

If you are a homeowner investigating post and beam construction and earthquakes information, be sure that a competent design professional is involved in your home design. You might consider obtaining one of the resources listed below to learn more.



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