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Should You Choose Wood or Steel Framing?

Construction steel worker with fall protection

There are different advantages and disadvantages associated with steel frames and wood frames. Currently, wood remains the most common material used for residential construction but steel framing is gradually becoming more popular. If you are in the process of deciding on whether or not you should use steel framing or wood framing for your next project we will highlight the positives and negatives to each and, hopefully, help you with your decision. We carry both steel framing and wood framing materials at our locations and can answer any specific questions you may have. Simply call, email, or stop by any of our five locations throughout New England and we will assist you in any way possible.

Steel Framing

Multiple pieces of metal framing on a rack.

With steel framing there are several advantages and as you read you will quickly see why it is gaining popularity for some applications.

No Rotting or Decaying

Bottom line, steel lasts much longer than wood. The fact that it doesn't rot is safer for the homeowner because there is less of a chance for mold or bugs.

Durability

Steel doesn't warp and bend as wood does, making the walls appear straighter. Also, steel can be light-weight and it can cover a greater area than wood.

Good for the Planet

Steel is very environmentally friendly because it can be re-used. Steel frames can be created from recycled material versus using wood which is much harder to renew.

Consistency

Another benefit is the consistency of steel, the contractor receives the same product and this is not always true for wood.

The Downside of Steel

Metal framing on a rack with hollow cores.

Cost

The major concern with steel framing is the cost. It costs about 5 to 15 percent more than wood framing.

Fewer Experts

Another disadvantage is the fact that many contractors lack experience with steel and may not be qualified for steel framing.

A few other considerations with steel are that some steel buildings are noisy due to squeaky metal joints. Also a metal building is hard to adjust once erected, not often an issue but still a consideration.

Wood Framing

Multiple pieces of lumber on a lumber rack.

As with steel there are several pros and cons to wood framing.

Savings

A major advantage is the cost. The price of wood framing is significantly lower than that of steel. Wood has been used for frames for a long time and is easier to create and transport.

Experienced Contractors

Building wood frames is easier for most contractors because it is common and simple to put together. You will probably save money on a contractor as well as the material since wood frames are easier to work with.

Forgiving

Also, wood frames are flexible and after building the frame, adjustments can be made fairly easily.

Energy Efficient

Wood frames are more energy efficient than steel frames as well, which means they require less insulation.

The Downside of Wood

A piece of pressure treated lumber.

Pests

A disadvantage is the fact that it can become infested with harmful insects, such as carpenter ants and termites. Steel is a good consideration in areas that have these issues.

Exposure During Construction

Another disadvantage is the fact that wood frames aren't as weather-proof as steel frames. This is especially important during the building process because the exposed wood frame cannot get wet.

Wood is also not as recyclable and as mentioned above, has the ability to rot and decay.

Hopefully this list has given you a little more knowledge so you can make an informed decision about your building. Each application is unique so careful consideration can make the difference in your project.


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Wallboard Supply Company is a third generation, family run business that has been serving New England's building needs since 1970. Bob Filion started the company with a commitment to provide quality drywall and finishing products with unmatched customer service. The company has grown over the years, expanding its' product range, but never wavering from its' core values.