Steel Vs. Timber Frame: Reasons To Choose The Latter

When building your own residential or commercial property, you will be required to make several difficult decisions, such as deciding the framing material of your building. Naturally, your personal preference should play an important part in choosing the frame type. But, more importantly, you should also consider the overall costs, flexibility, longevity, and sustainability that the material will offer. If you are looking for a cost-effective and affordable option, we’d recommend that you pick timber as your choice of framing material. Let us compare steel vs. timber frames and cover why you should choose the latter.

Characteristics of Steel 

Steel structural framing features a system of various horizontal and vertical elements that comprise different columns and beams that are essential in supporting walls, floors, and roof fixtures. The multiple components of the structures are usually measured, calculated, and fabricated in advance to reduce on-site building time and save significant building costs. 

Overall, it is a strong, durable, sustainable, and viable framing material for many commercial, residential, and industrial buildings, both low-rise and high-rise. In addition, it is usually fire-retardant and unsusceptible to pest infestations such as termites and ants. 

Characteristics of Timber

The use of timber in construction traces back to ancient civilizations and has been used in many countries and continents, such as the United Kingdom and Northern Europe. Today, more than 90% of American houses are framed using wood. In recent years, timber framing methods have been modernized to fit and optimize its durability for more contemporary designed buildings. Wooden frames are made with load-bearing structures supported with mortise and tenon joinery secured with wooden pegs. In most cases, some timber components such as roof trusses and stud walls are pre-fabricated offsite and assembled later with the rest of the structure to save more time. 

Why You Should Choose Timber

  • Limitless Design Options

Timber is an extremely versatile material that can be used in many ways due to the structural and physical properties that allow you to customize it according to your building’s design. As timber frames do not rest their weight on a platform and load-bearing walls, this will enable you to eschew walls in your design, providing you with a more creative and open concept, such as a post and beam construction. 

Additionally, the wooden frame structure can easily be installed and assembled using simple equipment due to its lightweight and flexible nature. It would not need to be pre-fabricated offsite as it can be adjusted during construction. In contrast, a steel frame would require the contractors to make accurate calculations and measurements. Any inaccuracy could result in major delays in the construction process until the component has been rectified. In addition to the time inefficiency, this could also incur unnecessary and additional costs.

  • Increased Insulation and Energy-Efficiency

Compared to many other materials such as concrete and steel, timber frames are a better contender for energy efficiency as they have natural insulating properties, reducing the need for an additional layer of insulation material in walls, floors, doors, and windows. This, in turn, reduces the overall energy expenditure and increases energy efficiency. In addition, timber-framed buildings will retain heat during the winter season and retain cool air during the summertime. They feature insulated panels with air pockets to reduce thermal conductivity. 

As steel is a good thermal conductor, it will reduce the properties of the insulating material by more than 60% as heat will be transferred away from the walls of the building. This reduces the energy efficiency as your utilities will need to work harder to compensate for heat loss. Furthermore, additional materials will have to be installed to counteract the thermal conductivity of the steel. 

  • Sustainable and Eco-Friendly

Timber frames are made with natural building material and do not contain any toxins that many manufactured materials have. As a result, it is safer to handle and touch as it will not emit any toxic chemical gases or vapor that can be harmful. Additionally, timber frames do not require complex equipment to assemble and process and consume significantly less energy than in manufactured frame constructions such as concrete and steel. Many countries, including the United States, have implemented policies to regrow trees to replace those felled to make them a renewable and viable resource. Additionally, these timber frames will also retain and store carbon, reducing the release of carbon emissions and making them more eco-friendly.

Why Choose US Framing

At US Framing, we are more than a wood framing contractor, we go the extra mile to consider the extent of thermal insulation, noise insulation, and fire resistance you require. We can adapt our raming methods to suit your project requirements and needs as we specialize in cross-laminated timber framing (CLT), steel framing, and more. Our team of professionals is dedicated to providing you with all the information you need to achieve your design goals for your buildings. 

For more information about the types of services we offer, please do not hesitate to contact us or schedule an appointment with us today!