Steel vs Wood Building: Which Building Types is Best?

steel vs wood building

Wood has been a building material of choice for centuries and this wasn’t without reason. But with mining, engineering and manufacturing technology improving – there’s a new king in town, steel buildings.

Once you start digging into it, you’ll find steel buildings offer many benefits over their wood counterparts. Some of those advantages include but are not limited to its inherent resistance to pests and fire, strength, and ease of assembly. Let’s review some of the main reasons why people choose steel buildings for their building project:

Construction Efficiency

building material types Steel buildings provide improved efficiency of construction when compared to wood. This reduces labor costs to save you money. By choosing steel, the design of your building can be simplified for easier construction. Steel framing is stronger relative to its weight than its wood counterpart. This allows you to create larger open spans for doorways or extra space than you would with lumber construction.

When constructing a building with wood, structures take quite a while to finish as you need to cut, drill and assembly the pieces on site; this translates into significant labor costs. Also, construction using wood materials requires more wastage as there are tons of off-cut pieces that do not have a place.

On the contrary, metal buildings are incredibly simple to erect, especially when you opt for a steel building kit. The kits comprise everything you need for your metal building, and components are measured and cut. The holes are even drilled so that in many cases once your foundation is ready, you simply have to bolt it all together.

Earth-Friendly Building Alternative

Many people do not know it but steel buildings also are a green option when compared to wood. When constructing a steel building, everything is pre-cut at the factory. By machine-fabricating pieces ahead of time, you generate less waste than you have with a traditional wood building which is often cut on-site.

Any steel scraps can also be remelted down and recycled for future building use. Structural steel is often made of recycled steel. Currently, structural steel has a recycling rate of 98%. A large part of this is that the value of this material makes it worthwhile to recover it after demolition, whereas wood is typically just disposed of in a landfill.

Durability and Longevity

termites on wood Steel buildings have many long-term benefits when compared to wood buildings. Unlike wood, steel does not warp split crack or rot. Steel is also not able to be eaten by vermin or termites so you can protect your investment and save on insurance.

If you live in an area with high humidity or changing weather conditions steel is far more stable than its wood counterparts. This may not seem like a large issue in the short-term, but over time this expansion and contraction can cause serious structural issues.

Save on Insurance

Along with reduced termite and pest issues, another reason you can save on insurance costs is due to steel being inherently non-combustible. By using a non-combustible material, versus wood, you reduce the liability risks for occupants as well as insurance costs for the goods that may be stored inside.

Resistance to Extreme Weather Conditions

earthquake effect Finally, if you live in an area with extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes tornadoes or earthquakes then steel can be a good choice. Steel buildings survive natural disasters typically far better than wood buildings do. If there’s flooding or heavy rain (as the majority of hurricane damage typically comes from water damage) the steel beams do not swell like wood. Steel is also far stronger than its wood counterparts making it able to handle heavier wind loads and reduce damage from earthquakes.

Hopefully, this has helped explain why the choice between steel and wood may not be as difficult as you think. Sure wood has its cost-benefits in the short term due to the cheap cost of lumber. Over time, however, you’re unlikely to be as happy with your future building, or saving as much money on maintenance and insurance as you would with a more durable steel structure.

Structural Integrity of Metal vs Wood

red iron metal horse arena Metal building materials are manufactured with quite high standards and specifications. You will not encounter substandard materials in a pre-engineered steel building. Every component of a steel building meets strict industry standards in terms of strength.

The components are strictly engineered for pre-determined use in a specific building. Each component in a metal building is designed and manufactured to meet a specific load criterion in a particular structure. It ensures that metal buildings handle all the load requirements of their particular site location.

On the contrary, while the design of a wood building can be pre-engineered, wood is wood. The quality of the wood used can vary significantly from one structure to the next and this effects its durability. In order to meet the same exacting requirements and standards as the steel building the wood building would need significant analysis of each piece of lumber being used.


When you compare prices from multiple metal building companies, you save. This happens since our team’s relationship with metal suppliers is strong enough that they know people inquiring are expecting a deal. Along with this, metal buildings are low maintenance as well. Therefore you save more financial resources during and after construction.

It’s much easier to install when erecting a metal building and doesn’t particularly need any professional skills. This will then save you a bunch of labor costs and time. In addition, the maintenance of metal buildings is quite easy. A simple power wash once a year with some ammonia and warm water, will act to keep your metal building in prime condition. This may not hold true for your wood building, since the wood is porous and that add a variable.

The reflective roof cut any added radiation entering the building. Along with this is added insulation that can reduce your energy consumption inside the metal building. It is actually less expensive to maintain the temperature of your metal building once insulated properly, as compared to the wooden building.

The Overall Cost of Maintenance

Steel materials:

  • Do Not Split
  • Will Not Warp
  • Do Not Become Swollen From The Impact of Moisture
  • Won’t Decay
  • Do Not Twist

red two door garage building These are just a few characteristics of steel as compared to wood. You will not have to repair or replace the steel as frequently as wood. The steel building will likely last much longer after the wood building is gone.

Pre-engineered steel buildings require a minimum of 26-gauge sheeting for siding and roofing, unlike the wooden pole barns that use a light 28 or even 29 gauge. Added to this in metal buildings, the fasteners are high quality. They therefore will not have to be replaced like a wooden pole building.

For wooden buildings, the light gauge metal sheeting will need replacement. The wood runners tend to hold moisture against the light gauge metal sheeting. This will result in rusting of fasteners and sheeting. In addition, wooden structures require regular maintenance – as any of those burrowing insects and rodents need to be kept far away.

Generally, steel buildings have more advantages compared to wooden structures. Initially, the cost-saving offered by a wood structure might appear quite attractive to individuals.

However, considering all benefits, the value of pre-engineered steel buildings exceeds the perceived initial cost savings of wooden structures. It is just a matter of asking your experts.