Should You Make the Move to Steel? Comparing Metal and Timber Wall Frames

Posted on: 23 April 2021


When you build a home, you know the wall framing needs to be sturdy, and you also need to make sure that the material used is appropriate for your needs and what the home might be subjected to in the environment. While timber is a common framing material, steel is quickly gaining on timber as an easy-to-use, durable wall framing substance. If you're building a custom home, you have a chance to choose the framing material that will suit you best. Making the choice for your wall frames takes a few things into account.

Consider the Natural Disasters in the Area

It's never very pleasant thinking about the ways nature could damage your house, but the potential natural disasters you face influence what materials you use to build a home. Steel is very good for areas prone to bush fires or tropical cyclones; it's a tough material that isn't going to catch fire if a spark flies into your home and that isn't going to crack in cyclonic winds. However, timber can be more flexible, and if you live in a more seismically active part of the country, where shaking is more of a risk than fire or wind, timber would be more appropriate. The flexibility of wood-framed buildings allows them to bend more with the shaking and stay intact instead of "pancaking" down.

Material Costs Differ

Timber needs to be cut, shaped and treated; steel needs to be forged, shaped and possibly hardened with alloys. Neither is going to be particularly cheap, but steel may be much more expensive than timber once you add up the costs of using it for all the framing. Timber tends to be easier to find and easier to shape, whereas steel, even when gotten from a local recycler's plant, needs to be re-melted and fabricated. More work goes into creating the steel beams for the frame, so costs are generally higher.

How Worried Are You About Pests and Soil Quality?

Timber can be treated with chemicals to make it resistant to pests; between treated lumber and steel, both will be uninviting to termites and other wood-loving insects. However, there have been issues in the past with the chemical used to treat the wood leaching into the soil. If you are concerned that the lumber your home has is leaching chemicals, steel is a good option. If you find pressure-treated lumber that does not use problematic chemicals, then lumber can still be a great choice.

Speak with the roofers and builders who are working on the wall frames on your home. They will definitely have their own opinions about these materials, giving you more information on which to base your decision.