What are sole-plates?

We have started work on a huge new project in Great Horkesley. So far we have stripped off the sand cement render ready for the replacement of the sole-plates and perished timbers. We will be putting in new purpose-made hardwood windows, wooden lath, wattle and daub panels and lime plaster finished with breathable paint. There is lots to do, and we will of course be posting regular updates as we progress. We thought you might like to know a bit more about the work involved in a project like this, so this week’s blog is about sole-plates.

So, what is a sole-plate? A sole-plate is a vital element of any timber-framed building, and is the first part of the building to be installed. It forms the base of the building, as it supports the outside walls and floors. The sole-plate sits on the brick plinth and picks up the timber frame. The sole-plates have a direct effect on the life of the building, and their installation contributes to the overall speed of construction. Here at K.E. Jones & Son Building Services Ltd, we are skilled in repairing/replacing sole-plates, but it is not a simple job. 

The main issue that occurs with sole-plates is rot, as they are made from timber. In many cases, poorly carried out alterations and modernisations can lead to the sole-plate being ‘sealed in’ with materials such as concrete, and then any moisture that would have evaporated naturally becomes trapped and leads to the timber rotting. If sole-plates rot badly this can be dangerous as they cannot then take a load-bearing role. This ultimately means that old buildings are left relying on wall materials such as lime render, to take the load which is not what they were designed to do, thus rendering the building unsafe. 

We would advise anyone thinking of buying a timber-framed period property to get a full survey done by a specialist, in order to get a full picture of any work that will need doing. We are of course happy to advise and quote on any work that may be required.