Are Steel Buildings Cheaper than Wood?

steel buildings cheaper than wood

Our team is constantly being asked whether steel buildings are cheaper than wooden buildings. It’s a great question, but as with most things is a little more complicated than it might initially seem. While the initial cost of a steel building is generally higher than that of wood due to the cost of steel versus lumber, over time things tip in favor of steel.

In the long term, we find the answer to are steel buildings cheaper than wood is a resounding yes! Let’s find out why…

When taking into consideration the value gained from the building, and the return on your investment, steel buildings emerge as the lower-cost option. Maybe this is why it is also so widely used. Based on some estimates, the building construction industry relies on between 70% – 90% of steel or steel framing.

Short-Term Cost Considerations


red two door garage buildingThere is a very high availability of immediate reserves of steel. We’re going into unusual times so that may change. Along with this is the recyclability of the steel from scrap metal as it is melted and reformed into strong beams. As compared to the wooden alternative where any off-cuts are essentially garbage so there is a lot of waste of material.

Use per Square Foot

The load-bearing capability of steel beams is significantly higher than that of wood. There is no need for interior support needed in most cases so you can put more of your square footage to use. There will be the use of less material per square foot of space than a comparable wood structure.

Man-power, Labor Cost Reduction

There is simplicity in the construction of a steel building. The building kit received from the manufacturer requires fewer workers in comparison to the wood building project since pieces are pre-cut and drilled. Labor cost is a large factor in any building project and with steel buildings, the number of laborers required along with the number of hours is greatly reduced.


financing for steel buildingsThe insurance industry typically acknowledges the difference in premiums between a wood-framed construction project and a steel project. Steel buildings are less susceptible to issues like fire, rot, pests, and poor construction. Steel construction sites have fewer accidents in comparison as well for construction insurance. This is as mentioned previously, that there are also fewer workers on-site, and also the shorter time frame of the project. All resulting in reduced insurance rates and payouts.

Long Term Cost Considerations

The benefit of a shorter completion time can also lead to cost savings of at least 5% of the total budget. In the longer term – steel buildings will outlast the wooden one. Steel will withstand:

  • Rot and Moisture damage
  • Molds
  • Pets such as termite infestation
  • Fire

Another consideration is the ease of additions or building modifications if the needs arise. Should the steel building need to be repurposed, it is less hassle to do so than compared with a wooden one. The wooden building, if repositioned for use, needs significant modification and addition. The ongoing cost and repair and maintenance cost need to be factored into the long run.

Real Life Conditions

If the conditions where you are located are found to be extreme, then this will impact the wooden building a lot more than the steel. Wood loses its strength with the fluctuations in temperature. However, steel does not.


quality metal buildingsSome will opt for all grades of wood, just to get the job done. Therefore the consistency in work may be compromised as well. Not all wood is the same – with respect to varying qualities. This can cost a significant amount in repair costs in the mid to longer term.

As you get going on your project, the steel building does not have to look industrial. With the right design team and installer, your steel building can be contemporary and refined in its look. Steel structures need minimal maintenance, which means reduced spend on such. It simply means that you can worry about other important things.

Remember worrying can carry a cost as well!

It’s easier than you might think to price a steel building for your needs. Get a free no-obligation quote today and find out how you can save!