Reducing Fire Risks: Tips and Best Practices for Fire Hardening Your Home

Posted on: March 8, 2024

Reducing Fire Risks: Tips and Best Practices for Fire Hardening Your Home

Wildfires are an increasing threat to homes and properties, especially in vulnerable regions. Protecting your home from this devastating force of nature is a wise investment and a crucial safety measure.

With fire hardening and home hardening techniques, you can significantly reduce the risk of your home catching fire during a wildfire.

Below, we will guide you through the process of hardening your home, creating a fire-resistant landscape, and complying with standard practices to ensure maximum protection.

Key Takeaways

  • Understand and assess the wildfire risk for your home
  • Implement fire prevention measures such as creating defensible space zones, using fire-resistant building materials, protecting vulnerable features & ensuring emergency vehicle access
  • Comply with local building codes to ensure adequate protection from wildfires

Understanding Fire Hardening and Home Hardening

Fire hardening your home is a process designed to reduce ignition risk and make a home more resistant to radiant heat and direct flame contact from wildfires. It serves a critical role in defending homes against wildfires and adheres to the National Fire Protection Association guidelines.

The steps involved in hardening a home include:

  1. Assessing the wildfire risk
  2. Creating a fire-resistant landscape
  3. Selecting fire-resistant building materials
  4. Protecting vulnerable home features
  5. Ensuring accessibility for emergency vehicles
  6. Planning for water supply and firefighting equipment
  7. Complying with relevant building codes and standards

Homeowners looking to get started can use resources like the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network, the Fire Adapted Communities Self-Assessment Tool (FAC SAT), and FAC Net. These offer guidance on correctly storing and handling combustible and flammable liquids.

Assessing Wildfire Risk for Your Home or Business

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Assessing your home or business’ wildfire risk begins with examining the Immediate Zone, which extends 0-5 feet from your residence.

In this zone, flammable materials should be minimized to reduce the risk of ignition. To increase your home’s wildfire resistance in the Immediate Zone, use ignition-resistant siding, roofs, decks, attic vents, eaves, and windows, and remove flammable vegetation.

In the Intermediate Zone, careful landscaping can be employed to reduce the continuity of fuels and impede the spread of fire. For example, removing branches that overhang the structure is a critical step to help ensure your home doesn’t catch fire.

In the Extended Zone, trees and vegetation should be spaced and pruned to reduce the size of flames, keep them closer to the ground, and interrupt the fire’s path. For safety reasons, combustible materials should not be stored on or under decks in the Immediate Zone, as flying embers can easily ignite them during a wildfire.

Creating a Fire-Resistant Landscape

creating fire resistance landscape - tips to reduce fire risk - montana timber products
Photo via Colorado State Forest Service

Reducing wildfire risk involves:

  • Establishing defensible space zones around your home
  • Creating fuel breaks
  • Maintaining trees to minimize the chances of your home catching fire during a wildfire.

The following sections provide a detailed exploration of defensible space zones, fuel breaks, and tree maintenance.

Defensible Space Zones

Defensible space zones are areas surrounding a dwelling and its surrounding property cleared of combustible materials and vegetation to create a separation between the home and potential fuel sources. According to the Colorado State Forest Service, there are three home ignition zones:

  1. Zone 1: which extends up to 5 feet from the home
  2. Zone 2: which extends from the outer edge of Zone 1 to 30 feet from the home
  3. Zone 3: aims to decrease the concentration of combustible vegetation and create an environment that restricts the advancement of fire.

The objective of interrupting the fire’s progression in Zone 2 is to contain the flames and ensure they remain on the ground. To achieve this, the following measures should be taken:

  • Clear vegetation from beneath propane tanks
  • Maintain a low density of fuels around the residence to provide additional time in the event of a fire
  • The recommended spacing between trees and bushes in Zone 2 is at least 10 feet.

Fuel Breaks

Fuel breaks are strategically placed barriers that slow or stop the spread of wildfires. They are integral to wildfire prevention, as they regulate forest fuels and reduce fire intensity. Various fuel breaks exist, including:

  • Shaded fuel breaks
  • Brown strips
  • Mowed fuel breaks
  • Targeted grazed fuel breaks
  • Mechanical treatments
  • Manual treatments
  • Chemical treatments
  • Biological treatments
  • Prescribed fire treatments

To create adequate fuel breaks, homeowners should:

  • Prioritize assets and valued resources
  • Treat or graze vegetative fuel breaks to manage excess litter and invasive plants
  • Focus fuels reduction efforts in the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) zone
  • Consider factors such as suppression, weather, and fire behavior
  • Establish shaded fuel breaks

A fuel break for residential properties typically ranges from 2 to 15 feet in width, depending on the type of forest, fuel loading, and the recommendations of a wildland fire fuels specialist or Area Forester.

Tree Maintenance

Regular tree maintenance in wildfire-prone areas can help prevent the spread of fire. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Prune and remove dead branches to reduce the risk of fire hazards.
  2. Maintain proper spacing between trees to help mitigate the risk.
  3. Remove debris and excess yard waste to prevent fire from spreading. Late winter, from mid-February through early March, is the ideal time for pruning trees for wildfire prevention. Trees are still dormant, allowing maximum growth and the chance to identify and address potential problem areas.

When it comes to pruning trees in Zone 1, the focus is on preventing the spread of fire through foliage or vegetation. Removing low-hanging branches, shrubs, and other vegetation is a way to reduce the risk of a wildfire reaching the tree canopy. This is an essential step in preemptively protecting trees from wildfires. Regular tree maintenance not only keeps your property safe but also contributes to the overall health of your trees.

Selecting Fire-Resistant Building Materials

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Selecting fire-resistant building materials is pivotal in fire-resistant construction, shielding your home from wildfires. Materials such as:

  • Metal
  • Concrete
  • Clay tiles
  • Fiber cement siding
  • Fire Treated Wood Siding
  • Tempered glass
  • Dual-pane windows
  • Solid-core doors

Taking measures to interrupt a fire’s path can significantly reduce the risk of your home catching fire during a wildfire.

The following sections delve deeper into fire-resistant roofing materials, siding options, and window and door choices.

Roofing Materials

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The choice of fire-resistant roofing materials is critical to diminishing the likelihood of your home catching fire during a wildfire. Some fire-resistant roofing materials include:

  • Composition
  • Metal
  • Clay
  • Tile

To ensure the protection of your home’s roof, it is advisable to regularly remove any combustible debris, such as dry leaves, moss, and trash, from the roof.

The fire-resistance ratings for different roofing materials are classified as follows:

  • Class A: provides the highest level of fire resistance
  • Class B: provides moderate fire resistance
  • Class C: provides minimal fire resistance
  • Unrated: does not have a specified fire-resistance rating

When selecting roofing materials, it is essential to consider local building codes and regulations. In addition, make sure to enclose eaves with fire-resistant materials to reduce the fire risk.

Siding Options

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Choosing fire-resistant siding options can significantly shield your home’s exterior from wildfires. Fiber cement, stucco, and pre-treated wood are all fire-resistant siding options.

When selecting siding materials, connecting the siding from the foundation to the roof is essential to prevent the passage of flames and embers.

Pre-treating wood to make it fire-resistant involves applying a fire-retardant treatment to the wood surface or impregnating it into the wood.

At Montana Timber Products, we offer both options.

Material that gets our Fireline Pressure-Treated treatment goes through a certified pressure-treatment process and exceeds the most stringent fire suppression standards, such as building in areas designated by the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) code.

For those areas where fire can still be a threat (but they aren’t considered Wildland Urban Interface zones), our FlameShield Topical is an excellent fire treatment option.

FlameShield Topical is an invisible, Class A-Rated fire retardant that reduces flame spread and smoke development. Our specialized non-toxic formula is UL Greenguard Gold Certified with low VOC content and emissions. Once properly coated, dried, and cured into the wood substrate in our facility, it is permanent and never needs to be reapplied.

If you want to learn more about our fire treatment options for natural wood products, check out our website’s Fire Treatment for Wood page.

Protecting Vulnerable Home Features

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Minimizing wildfire damage requires a focus on safeguarding vulnerable home features such as vents, rain gutters, and garages. In the following sections, we will discuss the importance of protecting ventilation and attic vents, rain gutters, roof debris, garages, and storage sheds.

Ventilation and Attic Vents

Installing metal mesh screens on ventilation and attic vents is essential for preventing embers from entering your home during a wildfire. For fire resistance, 1/8-inch or 1/16-inch wire mesh is recommended for metal mesh screens on ventilation and attic vents. Fiberglass or plastic mesh should be avoided as they can melt and burn.

To ensure proper installation of metal mesh screens on ventilation and attic vents, follow these steps:

  1. Select a metal mesh screen with a maximum opening size of 1/8 inch.
  2. Securely attach the metal mesh screen to the vents, including under-eave and soffit vents and exterior attic vents.
  3. Consider using baffles in addition to the metal mesh screen for vents in eaves or cornices.
  4. Ensure the metal mesh screen is firmly attached to the vents for maximum protection.

Rain Gutters and Roof Debris

Regularly cleaning rain gutters and removing roof debris is essential for reducing the risk of fire spreading to your home. It is advisable to clean gutters bi-annually, in the spring and autumn, to reduce the risk of fire effectively.

Some practical ways to remove combustible debris from rain gutters include:

  • Utilizing a wet/dry vacuum with applicable accessories
  • Manually clearing the gutters and flushing them with water
  • Using a leaf blower
  • Washing away small particles and dirt with a garden hose or pressure washer
  • Performing regular gutter cleaning and upkeep.

Garage and Storage Sheds

Hardening your garage and storage sheds protects your property from wildfires. To do so, install weather stripping around garage doors, store flammable objects at a safe distance from the door, and cover windows and vents with metal mesh. Metal sheds and steel buildings are generally regarded as the most fire-resistant materials in garages and storage sheds.

To reduce fire risk, follow these guidelines:

  • Store flammable objects at least 10 feet away from the garage or shed.
  • Cover windows and vents in garages and sheds with 1/16-inch or 1/8-inch wire mesh.
  • Avoid using fiberglass or plastic mesh, as they may melt and burn.

Ensuring Accessibility for Emergency Vehicles

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It’s vital to your property’s safety and that of firefighters to ensure your driveway and access roads are wide enough and free from obstructions, allowing emergency vehicles to reach your home during a wildfire. The recommended width for driveways to ensure accessibility for emergency vehicles during wildfires is 28 feet, with a minimum vertical clearance of 14 feet. Having a visible address number is also beneficial to firefighters in locating your residence quickly.

To ensure clear passage for emergency vehicles, the following actions should be taken:

  • Regular mowing and trimming of trees and bushes
  • Removal of overgrown branches and vegetation that obstruct visibility
  • Trimming back tree limbs and vegetation from sidewalks
  • Removal of trees or plants near fire hydrants
  • Creating spacing between shrubs and trees

Planning for Water Supply and Firefighting Equipment

Proactive planning is vital to safeguard your home in the event of a wildfire. Here are some steps you can take to be prepared:

  1. Ensure you have an accessible water supply. This can include installing a water storage tank or connecting to a nearby water source.
  2. Invest in firefighting equipment. Non-collapsible fabric fire hoses or hoses designed explicitly for firefighting purposes are the most suitable options for firefighting scenarios at home.
  3. Consider acquiring equipment such as electric pumps, portable tanks, and wildland firefighting equipment like engines, water tenders, dozers, and caterers.

By taking these steps, you can increase your readiness and protect your home from a wildfire.

It is also essential for homeowners to have emergency kits with items like:

  • water
  • food
  • flashlights
  • batteries
  • first-aid supplies
  • prescription drugs
  • clothing

Consult with local fire departments or fire safety experts to determine the amount of water needed to extinguish a fire in your specific building during the pre-planning stage.

Complying with Building Codes and Standards

Adherence to local building codes and standards is crucial in optimizing your home’s fire resistance. The relevant building codes and standards for fire resistance include the NFPA Codes and Standards, the International Building Code (IBC), and Fire Prevention and Safety Codes. These codes and standards are in place to ensure people’s safety and the public’s welfare by regulating design, construction practices, and the quality of construction materials.

Building codes and standards for fire resistance can vary regionally, considering factors such as climate, local building materials, and historical fire incidents.

Therefore, it is essential to refer to the specific building codes and standards of the region where the construction occurs to guarantee compliance with local fire resistance regulations.


In conclusion, fireproofing and implementing home hardening techniques are essential to protecting your property from the devastating effects of wildfires.

By assessing your home’s wildfire risk, creating a fire-resistant landscape, selecting fire-resistant building materials, protecting vulnerable home features, ensuring accessibility for emergency vehicles, planning for water supply and firefighting equipment, and complying with building codes and standards, you can significantly reduce the risk of your home catching fire during a wildfire.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you completely fireproof a house?

It is not possible to completely fireproof a house, but by using fire-resistant or fire-retardant building materials, you can reduce the danger of fire threatening your property.

What is the difference between fireproof and fire-resistant?

Fireproofing and fire resistance are not the same, as fireproofing involves protecting the material from combusting, while fire resistance entails protecting the material from the effects of fire, such as heat and smoke. Knowing the difference is crucial for safeguarding homes or businesses from fires.

What are the key steps involved in fire hardening a home?

Critical steps for fire hardening involve assessing the wildfire risk, creating a fire-resistant landscape, selecting fire-resistant building materials, protecting vulnerable home features, ensuring accessibility for emergency vehicles, planning for water supply and firefighting equipment, and complying with relevant building codes and standards.

Navigating the Wildland Urban Interface: Strategies for Protecting Your Home and Community

Posted on: June 1, 2023

Navigating the Wildland Urban Interface: Strategies for Protecting Your Home and Community

Wildfires have become all too common in recent years, wreaking havoc on communities and the environment. As a result, we need effective wildfire management now more than ever, especially in areas where human development intersects with wildland vegetation. So, how can we safeguard our communities from the constant wildfire threat? The answer lies in understanding the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) and implementing strategies to reduce fire risks in these areas.

In this article, we’ll explore the concept of the WUI, discuss the factors contributing to its growth, and delve into strategies for minimizing fire risks in these vulnerable regions. We’ll also share inspiring case studies showcasing successful WUI fire management efforts, highlighting the power of community collaboration and innovative technology solutions in mitigating wildfire threats.


  • Understanding the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) is crucial for protecting communities from wildfire risks.
  • Strategies for reducing fire risk in WUI areas include Community Wildfire Protection Plans, fire-adapted communities, and building and landscaping guidelines.
  • Successful WUI management necessitates community collaboration and the utilization of innovative technology solutions like alerting systems, drones, robots, and satellites.

Understanding the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI)

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The Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) is a critical area where human development and wildland vegetation coexist, creating a higher risk of devastating wildfires. With population growth and climate change exacerbating wildfire risks, comprehending the WUI and implementing protective strategies are paramount to safeguarding communities and the environment.

To achieve this, we must grasp the dynamics of the WUI, including the landscape’s physical characteristics, vegetation types, human activities, and potential climate change impacts.

Defining the WUI

The WUI refers to areas where residential development is near trees or dense vegetation, which pose a higher risk of wildfires. Experts primarily assess vegetation cover and housing proximity to determine the WUI threshold.

Recognizing and acknowledging wildfire risk assessment in WUI areas is the first step toward addressing the risks and implementing effective management strategies.

Factors Contributing to WUI Growth

WUI expansion primarily stems from housing growth, with vegetation increases playing a secondary role. Other contributing factors include rising housing costs, climate change, reduced land management practices, and relaxed housing regulations.

For instance, according to PNAS, from 1990 to 2010, areas classified as wildland-urban interfaces in the United States saw significant growth in the number of new houses (41% increase) and the land area (33% increase). As WUI areas continue to expand, it becomes crucial to tackle the challenges associated with this growth to mitigate fire risks.

Mapping and Assessing WUI Areas

Mapping and assessing WUI areas are vital for understanding wildfire risks and developing strategies to minimize them. High-resolution maps, created using remote sensing data, enable a detailed analysis of vegetation density, cover, and housing proximity to dense vegetation.

Accurate mapping and assessment empower communities and policymakers to comprehend and effectively address the unique challenges of WUI areas.

Strategies for Reducing Fire Risks in WUI Areas

strategies to reduce fire risk - wildland urban interface - montana timber products

Several strategies can be employed to reduce fire risks in WUI areas, including creating Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs), fostering fire-adapted communities, utilizing fire suppression techniques, and implementing building and landscaping guidelines.

These approaches enhance community resilience against wildfires and minimize potential losses.

Community Wildfire Protection Plans

A Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) is a document that outlines strategies to mitigate wildfire risk in a specific area. It includes information on the local environment, fire history, and potential fire hazards. The primary objective of a CWPP is to assist communities in becoming fire-adapted and reducing fire risks.

Training is crucial in developing a successful CWPP as it equips community members with the knowledge and tools to address wildfire risks effectively. CWPPs promote collaboration and shared responsibility for wildfire prevention and response by actively involving the community in the planning process.

Fire-Adapted Communities

A fire-adapted community recognizes the higher risk of wildfires and takes proactive steps to mitigate those risks, thereby reducing the likelihood of loss. Fire-adapted communities are better prepared to respond to and recover from wildfires.

To create a fire-adapted community, measures such as developing a CWPP, adhering to building and landscaping guidelines that prioritize fire resistance, and fostering community collaboration on wildfire safety are crucial. Successful examples of fire-adapted communities, such as the City of Flagstaff in Arizona and the City of Santa Rosa in California, demonstrate the positive impact of community-driven initiatives.

Building and Landscaping Guidelines

wildland urban interface - fire area building guidelines - montana timber products
Project Located in Truckee, CA that used our Fireline wood fire treatment.

Implementing building and landscaping guidelines tailored to the specific needs of WUI areas is essential for reducing the risk of wildfires. These guidelines may include using construction methods that minimize the risk of building ignition, creating defensible spaces by clearing vegetation, maintaining adequate distances between structures and flammable materials, and selecting fire-resistant plant species.

Choosing plants based on their fire resistance, climate suitability, irrigation needs and utilizing noncombustible materials for landscaping and mulch further reduces fire risks.

For instance, Fireline is a pressure-treated fire treatment that we offer is fully WUI and International WUI compliant and allows you to use natural wood on the exterior of your house, while still having the peace of mind that your structure is protected.

By implementing these strategies, communities can enhance their resilience against wildfires and create safer living environments in the wildland-urban interface.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is meant by the wildland urban interface?

The wildland-urban interface (WUI) refers to the areas where human development and wildland vegetation meet or overlap. It represents the boundary between built environments, such as cities, towns, and rural areas, and nearby natural habitats. As a result, the WUI can be a source of both natural resources and potential hazards, such as increased wildfire risk.

Why is the wildland-urban interface a major challenge for firefighters?

The wildland-urban interface presents a significant challenge for firefighters due to the proximity of populated areas, increasing the risk of property damage and civilian injuries. Additionally, hazardous materials often used near homes and limited access to the fire zone can pose significant dangers to first responders, making firefighting operations in the WUI complex and demanding.

What is a wildland urban interface area within Colorado?

In Colorado, the wildland-urban interface (WUI) refers to the areas where human development and forested or wildland vegetation intersect. These areas are crucial in maintaining healthy forests and reducing the risk of wildfire damage to people and property. In addition, creating fire-resistant landscapes throughout the WUI region helps mitigate the risk of wildfires and protect the environment.

What does WUI mean in construction?

In construction, the term Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) refers to areas where built-up urban environments meet undeveloped wildlands. It designates the transition area between these two environments, providing a buffer zone that helps reduce risks associated with wildfires and other potential hazards. The concept of the WUI is crucial in construction to protect both urban and wildland areas and minimize the risk of wildfires spreading into populated regions.

Wood Fire Treatments:  Pressure Treated vs Topically Applied

Posted on: February 24, 2023

Wood Fire Treatments:  Pressure Treated vs Topically Applied

Natural wood is a beautiful and versatile building material that has been used in construction for centuries. However, its flammability makes it vulnerable to fire damage, which can be devastating. To mitigate the risks associated with using natural wood in construction (and on exterior applications), there are two approaches to fire protection that are available: pressure-treated fire treatment and topical fire treatment. This article will discuss the differences between these two treatments, their benefits, and their compliance with Class A Fire Rating and Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) regulations.

Benefits of Utilizing a Fire Treatment

As already mentioned, natural wood has been used as a building material for centuries. However, with the increasing concerns of wildfires threatening properties, some have chosen to use alternative building materials that are manufactured for fire resistance.

Some even try to look like wood.

However, although these materials try to appear like the real deal, they can’t replicate an authentic wood product’s natural warmth and beauty.

Now, with the development and use of these cutting-edge fire retardants, you can utilize wood and have the confidence your project is protected the next time fire is threatening.

Additional benefits include:

  1. Code compliance. In many jurisdictions, fire treatments are required by building codes for certain types of construction. Compliance with Class A Fire Rating and WUI regulations can help ensure the safety of the building and its occupants.
  2. Durability. Pressure-treated fire treatment provides long-lasting protection against decay.

Why Is The Treatment’s Fire Rating Important?

The rating of the fire-retardant solution you decide to use reflects its effectiveness against flame spread and smoke development. The higher the rating in each of these categories the more protective the material is in a fire event so long as the materials are installed in accordance with the International Build Code.

A specific fire rating or designation may be required in some jurisdictions. In that case, you want to ensure the fire solution you choose on meets the requirements for your area. Consulting with local fire code officials is the best practice to ensure compliance and to make sure your structure is safe.

What Are The Fire Rating Classifications?

The following is a basic overview of the fire rating classifications. The index values measure how fast and how far flame will spread over a certain material.

Class 1 (or Class A) Fire Rating

A “Class A” or “Class 1” fire rating is a material’s best fire rating. Materials with this rating do not burn well and have a flame spread index of 0-25.

Class 2 (or Class B) Fire Rating

A “Class B” or “Class 2” fire rating is a material’s second-best rating. The flame spread index of materials with this class rating fall between 26-75.

Class 3 (or Class C) Fire Rating

A “Class C” or “Class 3” fire rating is the third best rating a material can achieve. The flame spread index of materials with this class rating fall between 76-200.

Note: The above rating classifications are established through specific testing processes established by the American Society of Testing and Materials. The ASTM E-84 is the standard test method for assessing the surface burning characteristics of building products to explore how the material might contribute to flame spread in the event of a fire. The test reports the tested product’s Flame Spread index and Smoke Developed index.

Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) Compliance and Standards

In specific areas under higher than normal threats from wildfires, materials and the application of fire retardant chemicals that meet WUI standards may be required.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, “The WUI is the zone of transition between unoccupied land and human development. It is the line, area or zone where structures and other human development meet or intermingle with undeveloped wildland or vegetative fuels.

To achieve both a Class A rating and meet WUI standards, a material must be ignition resistant. Having the ability to resist ignition from flying embers or fire radiation during a wildfire.

california mountain home - wildland urban interface (WUI) compliance area - montana timber products

Pressure-Treated Fire Resistance Treatment

The process of applying a pressure-treated fire treatment involves placing the wood in a vessel, then injecting the chemical preservative under high pressure. This process forces the chemical deep into the wood fibers, providing long-lasting protection against decay, insects, and fire.

The result?

A highly durable and fire-resistant material that can be used in a variety of construction applications.

Materials armed with pressure-applied fire treatment are an ideal choice for applications that require either Class A fire rating compliance, or Class A fire rating in combination with Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) compliance requirements.

For instance, the products we offer (in combination with our Fireline treatment) have been a popular solution to meet these requirement needs.

Is “Pressure-Treated” the Same as Fire-Treated?

Note, the use of pressure is a part of this fire retardant application process; but, “pressure-treating” wood doesn’t necessarily make it a non-combustible material. For instance, the “pressure-treated” wood at your local lumber yard might have a higher resistance to rot and decay; but, it doesn’t mean it was additionally treated for fire resistance.

Topical Fire Treatment

Topical (or spray-applied) fire treatment involves the application of a fire-retardant chemical to the surface of the wood. This chemical creates a barrier that prevents the wood from catching fire. Topical fire treatment is generally less expensive than the pressure-treated alternative.

The topical treatments are applied to the surface of the wood after it has been milled; but, before it has been finished and installed.  

Some topical treatments carry a Class A Fire rating and are accepted in wildfire-prone areas of the country. 

For instance, the spray-applied fire resistant treatment that we offer carries a Class A rating, is environmentally friendly, and is applied by our in-house production team.

Ultimately, the local authority having jurisdiction mandates code compliance pertaining to fire resistant building materials and what is required in your building area.

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Will Fire Treatments Affect The Look Of Our Wood Siding?

As a result of the treatment process, we do see a slight finish variation after it has received the pressurized fire treatment.

How noticeable?

Maybe a shade or two darker when finished as compared to the material of the same product line and finished color that wasn’t treated.

Our spray-applied treatment can have a very subtle color change when combined with some of our stains. With that in mind, control samples may be needed.

This is great for areas where only Class A is required; however, if WUI compliance is required in your area, the pressure-applied solution is your only option.

Which Fire Retardant Solution is Best For You?

Choosing the best fire retardant-treated wood solution for you and your project depends on a few factors.

  1. Your budget. Pressure-treated fire retardant is more expensive than the spray-applied option.
  2. Your location. A fire retardant with a Class A rating is the only requirement in some areas. WUI compliance (in addition to a Class A rating) is required in other areas. You need to confirm with the authority with jurisdiction in your building zone.
  3. Your timeline. When it comes to fire protection treatments that we provide, we apply the spray-applied protection in-house whereas pressure-treated is completed in another facility. So, ordering material with our Fireline treatment will affect your lead time.

While eliminating wildfires is not possible, there are viable options, while still using a renewable product like natural wood to help protect your property. Home hardening, which includes implementing fire-resistant exteriors and defensible spaces around structures, is a great first plan of action.

Finding the Right Timber Frame Materials for Your Project

Posted on: November 30, 2022

Finding the Right Timber Frame Materials for Your Project

Timber framing has been a popular construction method for centuries, offering strength, durability, and a warm, natural aesthetic. Today, this timeless technique continues to capture the hearts of architects, builders, and homeowners alike. But how can you make the most of timber frame materials for your project?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the essentials of timber frame construction, selecting suitable wood species, moisture management, joinery methods, sustainable sourcing, and more.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding timber frame construction involves understanding the components, joints, and carpentry methods used.
  • Douglas Fir is a popular choice for timber framing in North America, accounting for approximately 60% of timber frames in the region.
  • Adhering to building codes is necessary for a timber-framed structure’s safety, stability, and longevity.

Understanding Timber Frame Construction

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Heavy timber frame construction is a method of building framed structures that use less processed, large dimensional lumber. The joints used in this type of all-timber construction can include lap jointing and pegged mortise & tenon joints.

Vertical, horizontal, and sloping wood members are employed in heavy timber buildings to create a robust and secure structure. Several timber framing options are available, including traditional half-timbered construction, post and beam construction, lintel style, variations of half-timbering, and ridge-post framing, each with unique construction details.

Diagonal bracing is a crucial component in timber framing, as it prevents “racking” or movement of structural vertical beams or posts in wood structures. The infill, a nonstructural building material, is used to fill the gaps between the structural components of a timber frame. Once you grasp these essential components, you will be better prepared to decide on the most suitable timber framing approach for your project.

Components of a Timber Frame

A timber frame consists of posts, wooden beams, braces, and other structural elements that construct a robust and secure structure.

Various timber framing options, such as traditional half-timbered construction, post and lintel style, post and beam, and ridge-post framing, allow for customization and adaptability to different architectural styles and preferences.

Choosing suitable joinery techniques and comprehending the components of a timber frame allows you to construct a structurally sound and visually appealing building that lasts for generations.

Glossary of Terms

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Navigating the world of timber framing requires a good grasp of the terminology used in this construction method.

Terms related to timber framing include those related to construction, species characteristics, and joinery. Understanding what timber refers to in this context is essential for mastering the art of timber framing.

Key terms associated with timber framing construction include:

  • Timber: A squared-off length of wood that is used structurally.
  • Post: The primary vertical timbers.
  • Beam: The primary horizontal support timbers.
  • Rafters: Series of timbers that are used to support roofs.
  • Brace: A diagonal piece of timber used to support beams.
  • Joist: Horizontal timbers used to support floors and ceilings.
  • Gable: The triangular upper part of a wall that connects to a pitched roof.
  • Purlin: A purlin is a horizontal roof beam that supports rafters and spans the distance between gable ends.
  • Chord: The bottom horizontal timber in a truss.
  • Corbel: A bracket that projects from a wall to support a structure above it.
  • Mortise:  A mortise is a notch, hole, or cut in a piece of wood into which a tenon is fit to join two timbers together. This is the female part of a joint.
  • Tenon: A tenon is the cut end of a timber that fits into a mortise to join two pieces of timber together. This is the male part of a joint.
  • Collar Tie: A horizontal beam between roof rafters that reduces the spreading or sagging of the rafters.
  • Glulam: This type of beam is comprised of layers of 1-inch or 1-1/2 inch boards that are glued together.
  • Truss: An assembly of wood members used to create a rigid structure.
  • King Post: A truss with a center vertical beam with an angled support beam on each side of the vertical beam.
  • Queen Post: A queen post is a truss with two vertical beams that each have an outer angled support beam.
  • Joinery: Two or more timbers that are connected. The combined components of a timber frame.
  • Rough Sawn: Timber that has not been sanded or textured but is used as originally cut.

Being well-versed in these terms allows informed decision-making throughout your timber framing project.

Selecting Suitable Wood Species for Timber Framing

timber deck - prefinished posts - montana timber products

Selecting the suitable wood species for your timber frame project is crucial, as it impacts your structure’s strength, durability, and cost.

Essential wood characteristics to consider when selecting a timber species for a frame include:

  • timber grade
  • moisture content
  • heart content
  • and surface texture.

Grasping the characteristics of the wood species you are thinking of selecting enables you to select the proper material for your project.

Douglas Fir

Douglas Fir is a popular choice for timber framing in North America, accounting for approximately 60% of timber frames in the region. It offers several advantages, such as its strength and stability, as well as minimal cracking and checking. This strong and stable wood species is widely distributed in the Pacific Northwest and other parts of North America.

Reclaimed vs. Freshly Sawn Wood

hand textured timbers - prefinished wood timbers - montana timber products

When you select wood for your timber framing project, understanding the differences between reclaimed and freshly sawn wood is vital.

Freshly harvested and sawn timbers are obtained from living trees, while reclaimed wood was cut in the past and has been weathered for many seasons.

Reclaimed wood offers lower environmental impacts than freshly sawn wood, as it minimizes the demand for newly sourced virgin lumber. However, the cost of reclaimed wood tends to be relatively high compared to newly sawn wood because it is much scarcer.

Freshly sawn wood has a distinct advantage in availability, customization, and consistency compared to reclaimed timber, a finite resource.

Both reclaimed and freshly sawn wood have their unique advantages and drawbacks, with the final choice hinging on your project’s specific needs and priorities.

Moisture Management in Timber Framing

commercial timber framing - prefinished car park - montana timber products

Moisture management is paramount in timber frame construction, as timber and wood products are hygroscopic materials that absorb and release moisture.

If moisture is not managed correctly, it can result in warping, dimensional changes, and decay in the timber.

Additionally, moisture can penetrate deeply into the timber and become trapped, undermining the house’s or building’s structural integrity.

To effectively manage moisture in timber framing, it’s essential to utilize the following techniques and materials:

  • Flashing systems
  • Drying techniques
  • Moisture-resistant materials
  • Proper ventilation

The drying process of timber, such as kiln drying, decreases the moisture content of the wood, providing a more stable and reliable material for construction.

Maintaining proper moisture management throughout your timber framing project guarantees the longevity and structural integrity of your building, preserving your investment for the future.

Joinery Methods for Timber Framing

custom home timber features - prefinished timber frame materials - montana timber products

Timber framing employs various joinery methods to create secure and stable connections between structural components, such as:

  • Mortise and tenon joints involve the insertion of a tenon (a protruding piece of wood) into a mortise (a corresponding cavity), creating a strong and reliable connection.
  • Lap joints involve overlapping two pieces of timber and securing them together with fasteners or adhesives.
  • Modern timber connectors: include metal brackets, plates, and screws that provide additional strength and stability to the timber frame.
custom trusses and beams - prefinished timber frame materials - montana timber products

These joinery methods ensure the structural integrity of the timber frame and beam construction and contribute to its overall strength and durability.

Lap joints, conversely, are achieved by cutting half the thickness of two boards and joining them together, with fasteners in the middle to secure them. Scarf joints are an alternative method, where two plates have a mirror imaged, angled half-lap joint cut on their ends.

Modern timber connectors (such as Beam hangers, Self-tapping screws, Lapped connections, and Roof truss connectors) further enhance the structural soundness of timber framing.

Comprehending and applying these joinery methods allows for creating a robust and enduring timber frame structure tailored to your project’s specific requirements.

Sustainable Timber Sourcing

Sustainable timber sourcing is an essential consideration when planning your timber framing project. By choosing locally available species, you can decrease the environmental impact of transportation, support local economies, and access a range of species suited to the local climate.

Prioritizing sustainable timber sourcing practices helps lessen your project’s environmental impact while still enjoying the aesthetic and structural advantages of timber framing.

Timber Frame Finishes and Treatments

commercial timber frame construction - prefinished timber elements - montana timber products

Various finishes and treatments are available to protect and enhance the appearance of your timber frame structure. Treatments like wood preservers, pressure treating, and repairing decayed areas can protect timber frames from pests, rot, and weather damage.

Different finishes can considerably affect the visual appeal of timber frames. Some options include:

  • Varnish or lacquer: These finishes can highlight the natural beauty of the wood and create a glossy finish.
  • Stains: Stains can change the color of the wood to coordinate with other elements in the space or achieve a specific aesthetic.
  • Oil or wax finishes: These provide a more matte or natural look while still preserving the wood.

As with all natural wood materials offered at Montana Timber Products, we pre-finish our timber frame materials with SEAL-ONCE®.

SEAL-ONCE® is an eco-friendly, ultra-low VOC, water-based stain and sealer for wood that offers high performance and long-lasting protection against water damage.

By forming a flexible, breathable barrier between the wood and the surrounding environment, it stabilizes the material, protecting against water damage and decay for up to 10 years on vertical surfaces and 5 years on horizontal surfaces.

Click the following link to learn more about the Limited-Warranty that comes with material from Montana Timber Products.

Building Codes and Regulations for Timber Framing

timber framed entry way - prefinished timber materials - montana timber products

Understanding building codes and regulations related to timber framing ensures your project meets safety and structural requirements.

Timber framing falls outside the scope of the International Residential Code (IRC) and may have specific requirements, which can vary by location. It is advisable to consult with local building code offices and timber frame industry standards for guidance on compliance.

Timber frame construction codes may vary depending on the country or region where the structure is built. Some countries have specific requirements for:

  • Allowable materials
  • Structural design criteria
  • Fire resistance standards
  • Other factors

Adhering to these codes and regulations is essential for the safety, stability, and longevity of your timber frame structure.

Getting acquainted with the relevant building codes and regulations related to timber framing guarantees that your project, whether residential or commercial buildings, adheres to the highest safety and structural standards, securing your investment and offering peace of mind.


Many municipalities in the United States are adopting new construction codes due to the ever-growing concern of wildfires in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). Montana Timber Products has defensive solutions and peace of mind protection when considering exposed timbers in a wildfire-prone building zone.

custom home beams - prefinished natural wood beams - montana timber products
  • Fireline Pressure Treated is fully WUI and IWUI certified.
  • FlameShield Topical is Class A Rated and never has to be reapplied.

Both treatments can be applied to the full range of MTP timbers.


Timber framing offers a unique combination of strength, durability, and aesthetic appeal, making it an ideal choice for various construction projects. By understanding the essentials of timber frame construction, selecting suitable wood species, managing moisture, employing proper joinery methods, sourcing sustainably, and adhering to building codes and regulations, you can create a beautiful, long-lasting structure that stands the test of time.

So, whether you’re planning a cozy cottage or an impressive commercial building, timber framing holds the key to unlocking the full potential of your dream project.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of wood is used for timber frames?

Common woods used for timber frames include oak, Douglas Fir, Southern Yellow Pine, Eastern White Pine, Hemlock, West Coast Douglas Fir, Maple, Yellow Birch, White and Red Oak, Cypress, Cedar, Spruce, and others. These varieties are strong and hard timber choices that are generally more plentiful, check less, and emit pleasant scents for years.

What designates lumber as timber?

Timber typically refers to less processed, larger, thicker pieces of wood used in heavy construction and structural applications such as beams and posts.

Are there any disadvantages to using reclaimed wood in timber framing?

Reclaimed timbers are challenging to find because old barns and buildings are finite resources. It’s also limited in customization due to a lack of available sizes. It can also be challenging for projects that require a more consistent aesthetic.

How can I manage moisture in my timber frame structure to ensure its longevity?

Ensure the longevity of your timber frame structure by employing proper moisture management techniques, such as flashing systems, drying techniques, moisture-resistant materials, and ventilation.

How to Pick the Top Exterior and Siding Contractors on

Posted on: June 30, 2020

How to Pick the Top Exterior and Siding Contractors on

Ranchwood™ house

Ranchwood™ brings a timeless, rustic character to homes. Varied wood grains in each board are accentuated by proprietary finishing processes. “The result is as unique as one’s own fingerprint.”

Research Your Dream Home on

Just as it is common sense to do due diligence when buying a car before appearing in front of a hungry salesman, the same could be said for exterior siding and remodeling if a customer would rather avoid buyers’ remorse.

Doing research makes a huge difference. Call a contractor without a plan, and what a customer wants versus what is delivered is often a vast divide; not because a good contractor won’t have a catalogue worth of ideas, but rather the reasons listed out below.

Time for Remodeling

Anytime a family or business starts a project on the home or place of business, there’s a considerable amount of preparation that should occur. Exterior siding and trim projects might take several weeks to complete, and that could mean living in a hotel, or shutting down operations for a while. From a contractor’s point of view, timing is a huge deal when planning workforce allocations among their different projects. One of the first questions to ask a contractor should be “when could they start” (if offered) and “how long the remodel will take.”


Decide What Materials To Use on the Exterior and Siding:

The difference between various sidings might be substantial not just in price, but also availability, how long it will last,…and then, there’s the aesthetic.

Standard siding such as vinyl or hardie is differently priced from say ranchwood™, AquaFir™, Charwood™, and Corral Board. If a customer is on Houzz, chances are the “look” of the house is one of the first considerations, followed by value, and 3rd, whether it fits in the budget.

During the budgeting process it’s important to note that most projects do go over in cost before all is said and done. Even if it’s expected that the plan will proceed perfectly, prepare to put in at least a 5% buffer over the estimated cost for unexpected contingencies. Factor these extra costs in both building materials and contractor estimates.


ranchwood™ 2×12 Tackroom Channel Rustic with Chinking (horizontal), 1×6

Filter by Location

Special deliveries of materials such as Montana Timber Products, or “travel charges” incurred for bringing in remote contractor work needs to be factored into the equation. Proximity is important, but it’s not everything…some companies like “Montana Timber Products” can both deliver and service anywhere in the US, and even have projects as far as Western Europe.

Reviews and Stars

Top contractors, like restaurants, understand the need for positive reviews. This is how customers often make their final decisions between 2-3 services, and bury the rest. There’s a lot of places to leave reviews online, so it might be helpful to check google and facebook reviews. However, remember most contractors are not digital experts, so a good reference can stand in, especially when there are limited reviews to go by. The best contractors leave positive impressions in both quality and value for the client’s investment.

Pictures of Finished Work:

While not a deal breaker, it’s not unreasonable to ask a contractor for real examples of finished work. Whether a consumer wishes to see completed projects showing the most popular sidings like those made from reclaimed wood such as barnwood, or perhaps something more contemporary, all established contractors should have photos of prior work easily accessible. Sometimes one man shops do offer discounts, but don’t be surprised when other corners are cut (see below in “choosing a contractor”).

AquaFir™ Charcoal color cedar 1×6 vertical shiplap (circle sawn texture), 1×8 horizontal shiplap (wire brush)

Choosing a Contractor:

ranchwood™ Tackroom reverse board and batten 1×12, 1×6 with 2×8 and 2×10 trim.

Any contractor needs to have a physical address. Period. After work has started, a customer needs to be able to locate a contractor to follow up on both completed projects and work in progress. Don’t forget to have (in hand) a physical contract signed before work starts. If something goes wrong like a misunderstanding on the scope or duration of the project, a signed contract will be invaluable.

Exclusions in the contract will help protect a customer and contractor from a job expanding and in turn costing more to complete, while warranties (sometimes a lifetime for siding) will ensure the work is done properly.

Finally, licenses, certifications, and insurance are a must. Licenses can be gained in some cities just by paying a fee, but it also shows, at least in a small way, an effort was made to be compliant. Insurance protects both parties from an accident on a customer’s property, potentially damaging structures, cosmetic appearance, or even a life.

If a house was built pre-1978, a contractor will need to be certified in lead safe practices by the EPA.

Multiple Quotes from Different Contractors:

Even if a home/business owner wants a proprietary or artisanal wood, it’s best to shop around for the contractor. Price is only a small piece of the puzzle. There are certain costs that can be hidden by contractors, and without research in hand–a lot of cloistered study from their inside catalogues may leave a customer open to more than they budgeted for, and feeling somewhat committed to signing because of the “design help” they just received.

Bottom line, check out multiple contractors on; look at their work and qualifications, call to get a quote, and know the right questions to ask before signing anything.

According to “As of August 2015, there were more than 7 million high-quality photos of interiors, exteriors and gardens. Houzz now has more than 17 million home photos on its platform”

Decks and Rails: Do you prefer Rustic or Modern?

Posted on: May 10, 2018

Decks and Rails: Do you prefer Rustic or Modern?

Spring is a good time to refresh the exterior of your home.  Refreshing or upgrading railing and decking can make everything look new or even change the exterior elevation of the home.  When deciding on what look you want to achieve for your outdoor refuge, think about what style you want:  modern, contemporary, country, or rustic look.  Outdoor space can be an extension of your home, make that space cozy and visually interesting to complement your home and style.   

When selecting the wood for your project, keep in mind Ranchwood™, gives a rustic look in more natural colors and AquaFir™, gives more of a modern/contemporary look with color choices for a vibrant appearance.  Both products offer many textures to complete a beautiful design and even compliment the homes siding/trim.  Mixing color choices can add a twist to a simple design and bring visual complexity to the deck and railing with no added work, all the products come prefinished.   Adding outdoor living space can also make the home look and feel larger all while being aesthetically pleasing.

Ranchwood Eastern circle sawn product brings the rustic look to the contemporary design using the horizontal railing slats.  The sturdy horizontal pieces make for a nice modern country look, while giving plenty of air flow and light to the space all while allowing for privacy.  This is a very economical way to build over a day light basement and also insures safety.


2×6 decking material is No.2 grade or better quality which minimizes knots and provide structural integrity.  The ranchwood and aquafir products provide durability and strength from either Douglas Fir or Cedar allowing for the balance needed to build a budget friendly deck with characteristics to compliment the home.

This traditional barn added some flair with a balcony off the living quarters to extend living space.  The railing is traditional vertical slats to stay in the rustic style of the barn.  Using Ranchwood in Tackroom color to create a rugged well-built extended living space.  The 2×6 decking was prefinished on both the top and bottom to meet the customer’s needs.  Ranchwood is an economical solution instead of using reclaimed barn wood for many projects while still achieving the weathered appearance..

This mixed material railing keeps the rustic look, but allows for some additional texture to compliment the wood by using metal mesh.  This combination compliments the building and allows light through, keeps the view unobstructed, but the space is also enclosed for safety.  Using wood balusters in a darker color than the siding keeps within the barn style for a natural look and the mesh just allows for some creativity in the finished design.


Whenever a project is being planned out having the peace of mind that all the wood is protected with a No VOCs, eco-friendly, water based formula of Seal Once, you know family, animals and the environment are not impacted by the project.   All of our wood comes prefinished to preserve the natural beauty and long lasting waterproofing.  Prefinished wood also allows for completing the project faster, no waiting on stains or paints to dry.  Leaving more time to enjoy using the deck.


Wood Fences from Rustic to Modern make a good neighbor

Posted on: April 27, 2018

Wood Fences from Rustic to Modern make a good neighbor

Spring can be a great time to find inspiration for making changes to your property.  Natural wood products bring a warm look to anyone’s home.  Various applications can change how you feel about your property or spruce it up to sell.

Fencing can tie together the entire home package, Robert Frost said “Good fences make good neighbors”.  Fencing is part of the landscaping, it can add character and something of interest as well as function to every home.  A well designed fence can add texture, interesting patterns and enable a home owner to have a sense of security and privacy from a fence all while enhancing the homes curb appeal.  Wood fencing can allow you to be creative with spacing, heights, board widths, color, and even mix with stone or other natural materials.

Corral Board products are recycled repurposed wood, giving a rustic look for any home.  We’ve been building with wood for over 10,000 years, recycling wood for projects like fencing is the perfect way to incorporate something old into something new.

Charwood™  is a Japanese style charred wood called Shou-Sugi-Ban.  This can give a modern contemporary look to create a beautiful fence that morphs into art.  Mixing the wood with rock creates texture and interest to the landscape. The 1×6 shiplap board creates the perfect interlocking pieces for a clean look.


Creating a privacy fence was not a challenge for this beautiful Sun Valley, Idaho hotel.  Making the space functional, yet cohesive with the hotel design allowed the builder to use a mixture of stone, steel and Ranchwood.  The channel rustic profile on the gates helped refine the look and keep it fully enclosed and sturdy.

Wood has always been valued for its beauty, practicality and value proposition.  Investing in the right fence for you will increase property value and allow you to enjoy your home to its fullest.  All materials are pre-finished and come ready to install.  Montana Timber Products feature Seal-Once allowing the beauty of the natural wood to shine through while being protected from the elements for many years to come.