The Pros and Cons of Steel and Wood Buildings

Posted on June 3, 2021
An example of a building with an all steel frame and an example of a building with a steel and wood frame

The number of people getting in touch with Worldwide Steel experts because they’re interested in a metal building for residential use (like a metal home, residential garage, barndominium or even personal storage building) is on the rise. And if you’re reading this, you’re probably considering the same thing yourself.

It’s not unusual to see metal building framing in commercial buildings or personal buildings designed for, say, outdoor use or heavy machinery storage. That’s where we all expect to see steel structures. But in residential construction, traditional wood framing still reigns supreme.

The Benefits of Using Steel and Wood

Despite the obvious benefits of steel building materials (including but definitely not limited to: shorter construction and finishing time, structural strength, fire resistant, lower labor costs, lower material costs (especially at the moment), energy efficiency, durability against high winds and snow loads, immunity to termites and lower upkeep and maintenance over the life of the building), many potential builders shy away from it in favor of wood buildings. While wood framing construction materials are heavier, making it potentially more durable in some situations (although we would argue that’s a misconception as well), the cost-effectiveness, durability and almost nonexistent barrier to entry of using steel frame construction are enough to outweigh the benefits of wood framing.

Here’s where wooden buildings still shine: aesthetics. Even for prefab metal building enthusiasts like us, we understand that most people still consider a traditional wooden structure more attractive than one made of steel. So if you’re intrigued with the benefits of a pre-engineered steel building kit, but can’t get your mind off how beautiful a wood structure would look (or if you’re looking to build in an area with strict building regulations), we suggest you consider a third building type: a hybrid steel and wood building.

A hybrid steel and wood building combines all the benefits and longevity of metal trusses with all the coziness and hominess of a wood frame building.

When you add secondary wood framing to the interior and/or exterior of your Worldwide steel building, you’re combining the best of steel with the best of wood for a structure that’s easy to erect, stands up against pests and the elements, and is less susceptible to many long-term deterioration issues. With wood construction incorporated in the secondary framing, you can turn a simple metal frame kit into whatever interior configuration you choose, and can often overcome HOA or municipality building restrictions with wood exterior siding. This means truly endless configurations, floor plan options and finishes, so your Worldwide Steel building kit becomes even more customizable (we know, hard to believe).

Sounds perfect, right? In many cases, depending on your priorities, your budget and your timeline, yes.

A steel frame at the heart of your hybrid construction still means you’re reducing your building cost and optimizing your longevity and durability. You would need to purchase, construct, prime and paint even more wood if you chose the traditional route, and you wouldn’t get any of the benefits of steel.

A high-quality hybrid approach also means easier customization in the future. If you wanted to add a wing to your building ten years in the future, you could do so with an additional metal building component without worrying as much about the difficulties of expansion.

Call Worldwide Steel For All Of Your Steel Building Needs

Here at Worldwide Steel, we predict a continued rise in steel for residential buildings, but we recognize that change doesn’t happen overnight. In the meantime, to appeal to both design-conscious builders and the rules of building organizations, we urge you to consider the benefits of taking a hybrid approach and incorporating both steel and wood in your project.

If you have questions (and you probably will – our most conscientious customers ask many), please don’t hesitate to reach out. Our experts are as passionate about your building plans as you are, and look forward to talking through the possibilities for your new building project. They can even show you some examples of recently completed hybrid projects so you can picture your options. 

Let’s get started with a free quote! Give us a call at 1-800-825-0316 to learn more about steel construction projects, our building systems, and the 50-year structural warranties offered on all our building kits.

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