Light gauge steel and wood still remain to be the most commonly used building materials to frame walls in the world. Metal framing is cold formed to create long, thin sheets capable of holding heavy loads. Wood is more readily available and assembled via stick framing.
Whether you are building a steel frame or a wood frame, the pros and cons of using either building material relies heavily on the size of the home, current price of materials, the team you hire and what light gauge steel framing software or wood framing software you use. Nevertheless, builders tend to prefer one of the other. Why is that?
Read more about the benefits of each building material in the post below.👇
In the past, wooden studs was used around the world for all construction. Nowadays wood is predominately used for residential projects especially in North America and Europe, but, according to the Steel Framing Alliance (SFA) more than 40% of commercial buildings are constructed using metal.
Below you'll find pros and cons for each material, helping you decide what it best for you.
Wood studs are much cheaper and readily available at a local hardware store. The same cannot be said about light gauge steel studs. Pricing for steel is typically 3%-15% more expensive than wood and it is harder to find.
It is also important to note that insurance and safety expenses must be considered. Cold-formed steel is non combustible and because of this, risk insurance will be lower on light gauge steel projects. Wood however offers lower labor costs since more professionals have experience working with wood than metal.
Steel's adaptable nature helps it withstand high winds, earthquakes and other stressors. Not only that but light gauge steel is impervious to the elements (moisture, insects) and is not subject to rot - which in turn keep your structure as straight as the day it was built. Such a statement cannot be said about wood studs.
Though wood studs are very strong and can hold more weight than steel, the lifespan of wooden studs is much less than light gauge steel.
It can be said that wood studs are stronger than light gauge steel because of the sheer weight of the material.
However, steel is known for having a stronger strength to weight ratio. Unlike wood studs, steel is much lighter and easier to use and as a result they are easier to transport, manipulate and also install.
In comparison to wood, steel has a much lower insulating capacity. Because of this, cooling and heating costs can become quite expensive when using steel.
Wood on the other hand is a natural insulator due to the air pockets that are part of their cellular structure.
Wood framing can be subject to rot and moisture infiltration. Aging wood-framed structures could suffer insect damage and have to be replaced over time. While metal framing has the potential for rust in similar conditions, the overall maintenance costs of steel framing will be less than their counterpart.
Wood requires less energy to produce. With that said, constructing with wood can help combat climate change, provided that an equal amount of new trees are planted in order to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen (photosynthesis). Steel on the other hand is now 100% recyclable and does not emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that can be found in wood.
When using a CNC machine, both materials are cut to precision and have little to no waste. However, steel is cleaner, scrap rates are under 2% and it does not leave sawdust.
- Style flexibility
When thinking about the project that you are working on, one must consider if you're mounting a TV, need to have a load bearing wall or add a door for example. While steel studs have their advantages, wood is able to preform simple tasks, like nailing a door with little to no issue. It is not as simple with steel.
Finally while wood is less expensive, eco-friendly and more widely used in residential buildings and demands no learning curve, light gauge steel offers a lighter, more malleable product that will stand the test of time. Which one is better or smarter?
Software like MWF Pro Metal and MWF Pro Wood can help alleviate some misconceptions of each building material and will help you build more quickly and efficiently than ever before. Limiting waste, time and money across all projects.
Need more information? Get in touch to learn more about how MWF can help you with your next build!