Wood Buildings vs Steel Buildings Which One Is Better?

Posted by Ben Sparhawk on Apr 23, 2019 9:57:36 AM

Advantages and Disadvantages of Wood Buildings versus Metal Buildings

Are you debating whether to build a pre-engineered metal building or a wood frame building?

Before you decide on this question, you should weigh the advantages and disadvantages of these common building materials.

For hundreds of years, people turned to wood for construction because it was familiar and user-friendly.

A century ago, wood was easily the best building material, and there was an abundance of it all over the world.

Wood was inexpensive and readily available, and owners could design and build their own structures because the wood was flexible and had a very forgiving erection process.

Over the years, though, steel frame construction has become more popular and presents significant advantages over wooden buildings.

Because of the several benefits of steel, pre-engineered steel buildings are now the method of choice for most industrial and warehouse projects.

Below we compare how the two materials stack up against each other in a match of wood buildings versus industrial metal buildings.

Table of Contents


Overall Cost To Erect Your Building

the overall cost to erect your building

Looking only at the initial price tag, a wooden structure may seem more appealing than steel frame construction.

However, cheaper does not always mean better, especially in the construction industry.

With construction materials, you truly do get what you pay for.

Looking at the cost over time, it makes more sense financially to go with an industrial steel building.

The amount of time and money you will spend in repairs and efforts to keep a wood building (which is a material that naturally deteriorates over time) standing will far exceed the cost of building a pre-engineered steel structure.

Every year in the near future, you would have to shell out money to replace rotting wood and warped elements throughout your wooden framework.

However, a steel structure maintains its integrity longer and will not require a lot, if any, annual maintenance.

To top it all off, land with prefabricated steel buildings tends to appreciate, while land with a traditional timber building typically stays the same or could even depreciate.

That means your prefabricated metal buildings are constantly working for you, and if you ever decide to sell it, you could make money from your investment with a custom-engineered metal building kit.


Structural Strength and Durability of Your New Building

The structural strength of wood is incredibly tough, and it does hold its own against custom steel buildings.

However, wood has a problem with durability against different elements, such as climatic events and pests.

Termites and other insects can wreak major havoc on wooden structures. Wood also absorbs moisture, which can dry out and warp the wood when it finally dries.

Other elements in the wooden structure, such as drywall and other coverings, can crack and distort, which affects the stability and durability of the wood.

Another problem with wooden structures lies in the inconsistency with the quality of the material.

Several types of wood come from different regions, which can result in a variety of quality levels and usable material, leaving behind as much as 20% wasted scraps.

Although the initial cost of a wooden structure is a little more favorable than metal building systems, the money you spend over time repairing damages and making renovations will exceed what you'd spend on building a steel structure, to begin with.

Additionally, pre-engineered steel buildings are designed and structured to stand firm against earthquakes, hurricanes, heavy snowfall, high winds, flooding, and other natural elements.

As for defense against termites and other pesky insects, your steel building kit is resistant to those pests. Steel is often considered the strongest building material on Earth (aside from exotic metals such as titanium) and a noncombustible material.

Noncombustible materials, unlike wood, will not burn when faced with heat.

Metal structures are screwed together, meaning the connective joints are stronger than those secured with nails.

If you are looking at using your prefab building kit for a structure like, metal workshops, manufacturing facilities, storage facilities, or even office buildings, a metal building gives you the ability to go with an open floor plan that is needed for facilities like these.  

With a factor as important as strength and durability, it is easy to see why more and more business owners choose to construct their buildings from steel.

Foundation Strength

Some people don't like the fact that steel construction requires a concrete foundation and floor.

They object that this can add to the initial cost of the project.

However, metal buildings don't always require a full slab.

It will at least require concrete piers at each column that will provide proper structural stability and fulfill design load requirements.

The concrete piers provide load-bearing capacity and an above-grade connection so that the posts are not subject to moisture and decay.

This is what allows pre-engineered metal buildings to have clear-span capabilities.

Foundation requirements are dependent on building applications as well as the site location.

While all of this will add to the initial cost of a metal building system, the advantages you receive over the life of the building are enormous and outweigh the initial expense.

Construction Timeframe

A wood-framed building's materials will arrive on the construction site as raw lumber.

Customize your steel building design

This requires a construction specialist to dedicate valuable time to cutting the lumber and fabricating the building's framework on the job site.

When you work with wood structures, you will spend a lot of money on labor costs for the skilled laborers to cut wood to size, frame, and drill holes for all the electrical work and more.

If you choose to design a steel structure for your next business project, you will save both time and money.

Prefabricated steel buildings will have the materials delivered to the job site already fabricated.

At CDMG, a leading metal building company, we utilize Building Information Modeling 3D software to design and develop the structure before construction.

This software allows us to cut down on time spent during the construction phase because BIM allows any problems or potential roadblocks to be fixed before the erection stage even begins.

Metal buildings can be erected in a few weeks or months, depending on the structure's size and weather experienced on the job site.

The Ability To Customize Your Design

Wood-structured buildings have a traditional-looking aesthetic that people are drawn to.

Wood buildings can be customized to please owners' preferences.

There is a high level of upkeep required since, without consistent maintenance, paint, and other aesthetic elements can deteriorate or peel quickly.

For steel structures, there is a common misconception that there is little to no room for customization.

In fact, many people have chosen to build with wood merely because they do not like the look of a steel building and do not realize that steel buildings offer a wide variety of customizable appearance options.

CDMG Metal Building Systems offers customizable pre-engineered steel buildings to fit your tastes and needs.

As you work with our design team, you can make notes about exterior and interior components that you want to be included in your custom-engineered metal building.

There are many veneers and facades that you can add to your steel building to mirror the outward appearance of a building type other than metal.

The framework of a steel building allows for easy expansion and add-on in the future. You can even complete an expansion project in a matter of days or weeks.

Lifetime Maintenance

To maintain the ideal appearance of your wooden structure, a new coat of paint is necessary every four to seven years − with touch-ups in between.

The roof will also need to be replaced at some point, as the average roof only lasts for roughly 15 years.

As mentioned before, wood can warp, rot, crack, and more, which will require expensive replacements when damage occurs.

The lifetime maintenance of prefab metal buildings is minimal because steel does not split, rot, or warp like wood. Plus, the warranties on metal roofs and other components last 40 to 50 years.

Since a steel frame is lighter in weight than wood, there are also fewer cracks in the building's foundation.

Another lifetime savings steel-structured buildings offer their owners is a healthy discount on risk insurance.

This is because steel is incredibly durable and resistant to many destructive elements.

Energy Efficiency

Wood does not transfer heat as easily as steel does, which is a positive for wood.

However, this means that the wood framework still needs to be insulated, which evens out the savings for both materials in the energy-efficient category.

There is little to no recycling of wooden frames, as they are usually demolished and taken to landfills.

For more reasons that prefab steel buildings are more environmentally friendlier than a wood building, read 5 Ways Steel Buildings Are Eco-friendly.

On the other hand, steel can be recycled time and time again without losing any of its strength.

This ability is a huge positive when you consider your selected material's carbon footprint and lifecycle efficiency. Steel structures are incredibly energy efficient in design.

The metal roof that you incorporate into your steel building will also help increase your structure's energy efficiency.

It is easy to incorporate geothermal heat pumps, solar energy systems, and wind turbines for added energy efficiency.

Adding these elements will also help to save you consistent money on energy bills.

We at CDMG pride ourselves on only using pre-engineered steel that is 90% recycled.

Contact CDMG for your industrial steel building

Contact CDMG Today

It's ultimately up to you to decide what building material works best for you, your budget, and your needs.

While saving money is always an important aspect of any buying decision, it's also important to consider the value you'll be getting.  Choosing to save money on the initial investment of a wood building could cost more down in the long run.

Going with a prefabricated steel building kits allows you to save money on the construction schedule, and has minimal upkeep which reduces the cost of the building.  

Additionally, steel is an environmentally friendly building material and when your business needs to expand, that expansion will take less time than it would if you were building off a traditional wood building.

With all of the value that metal building kits have to offer your business, it's easy to see why so many have chosen to go with a metal building kit.  

If you're ready to construct your next project with a pre-engineered metal building kit from CDMG, Give us a call or click the button below to get started today!



Check Out Our Other Pre-engineered Metal Building Articles:

The Ultimate Guide To Designing Your Metal Building

The Best Facades To Put On A Metal Building

How Do Metal Building Systems Work?

Original blog content written here.

Topics: metal buildings, steel building

About The Author

ben-sparhawkI'm Ben Sparhawk, the Content Writer and Marketing Account Manager for CDMG. I write to showcase the work that CDMG does and everything related to the pre-engineered metal building industry as well as their engineering capabilities. When I'm not working on content, you can find me spending time with my wife and children. You can also find me in the gym, trying to better myself, and I also enjoy spending time outdoors hiking or checking out local parks.