Historically, people have turned to wood-framed construction because it’s a familiar material that is user friendly. Years ago, wood was easily accessible and found in abundance all over the world. Being an inexpensive building material and user-friendly helped owners design and construct their own structures. Wooden structures, including pole barns, are some of the most common building structures constructed to this day.
Despite the initial savings in construction costs when building with traditional lumber, steel construction has become more popular over the years and presents significant advantages over wood. Pre-engineered steel buildings are now the method of choice for most commercial, industrial, and warehouse applications. We’re even seeing the livestock and agricultural sector, which have traditionally been wood construction in the past, using steel in lieu of wood due to the life cycle and longevity of the buildings.
Here are a few more reasons why steel has become the preferred alternate to wood construction:
- Ease of Use: Steel structures are quicker, easier, and less expensive to construct.
- Greater Design Flexibility: With steel being much stronger than wood, it allows for greater flexibility during design. You can have greater spans without including interior framing or posts. Side and endwall columns can be spaced further apart which results in a more open building with less weight and greater structural integrity.
- More Useable Space: With greater spans in wood construction wood trusses are often layered or joined in several places. This increases costs exponentially. This is why wood structures over 80 – 100’ have several interior posts and beams which limits the usable space.
- Lower Maintenance Costs: Steel components don’t warp, split, twist, swell, shrink, or decay, like their lumber counterparts. Steel components will not have to be replaced or repaired, and will remain intact long after the wood frame building is gone. Pre-engineered metal buildings use a minimum 26 gauge cladding for the exterior and 24 gauge cladding for the roof as opposed to 28 or 29 gauge material on a pole building. Fasteners are generally made of higher quality material in steel buildings as well. The gauge material on pole building is susceptible to damage over time and will likely need to be replaced. Purlins and strapping hold moisture against the light gauge metal sheeting, causing the sheeting to rust prematurely. In some cases, fasteners tend to lose their grip and pull away from the wood members, resulting in damage to the panels which requires repair or replacement. When you choose a pre-engineered steel building, these items are non-issues, leaving a steel building virtually maintenance free.
- Steel is Environmentally Friendly: Steel is 100% recyclable and is the only material that doesn’t lose strength when it goes through the recycling process. There is virtually no waste when a steel building is manufactured. During manufacturing and erection of your steel building, no substantial cutting or modifications on site should be required and anything discarded during manufacturing is then recycled and reused. When compared to wood framed construction, which can be wasteful and harmful to the environment, steel buildings are hands down the more environmentally friendly building system.
Things to consider – The price savings afforded by a wood building vs steel may seem attractive at first but when comparing to different solutions we recommend to our customers that they consider many factors before choosing a building material. You must consider all costs before making a decision which shouldn’t just include the upfront material costs. You should take into consideration the life cycle costs of your building, future maintenance and insurance costs, as well as the overall effect on our environment.
When considering all the factors, customers agree that the value you get in a pre-engineered steel building far outweighs the initial savings you see when pricing a wood framed structure.
For more additional information, check out the Metal Minutes Podcast by Robertson Building Systems. Their episode titled Pre-Engineered Metal Buildings Compared to Wood and Concrete Buildings goes into greater detail and provides some great insights. Click here to listen now.
Interested in a new steel frame building? Contact Chris Fortier, our Sales Manager via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give him a call at 204-726-0400.