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Steel Frame Vs Timber Frame: What's best?




The steel industry has recently been revolutionising with the introduction of new building materials. The modern steel industry which we know today began in the late 1850’s and is now a staple in the worlds industrial economy.


The industry has seen improvements in health and safety, mental health awareness, off-site manufacture of prefab buildings, big improvements in apprenticeships and training and now we are beginning to see the hard work that designers have been putting into timber structures.

The industry was once dominated with steel fabrication and concrete construction, now we are seeing an introduction of timber frames and construction, or at least hybrid designs of the two.

We are weighing up the pros and cons of the two materials to see how they measure up and what has longevity for the future in construction.

Environmental stability

2022 is the year of sustainability. The idea of becoming more eco-friendly has now been introduced into every sector. However, for the steel industry, this comes down to our construction material.

Both timber and steel have their draw backs and advantages.

Timber means increased deforestation, plain and simple. The logs need to come from somewhere. This is not an issue with steel. However, when we flip the argument, when the demand for timber increases as does the number of forests to supply the timber.

The more forests, the more CO2 and the more importance of ethical farming...

Steel is thought to produce less waste as it produced precisely with man-made materials. However, due to wood being naturals, some imperfections may mean the wood needs to be scrapped.

The production of steel is intensive and can cause a large carbon footprint which is not the same as timber. On the other hand, steel is completely reusable and can be melted down and built backup.


Strength

Steel is strong, everyone knows this. There is no risk of hidden imperfections which may damage the strength of the steel.

However, certain environmental factors such as a frame being near the coast can cause the steel to rust quickly which can affecting the strength of the structure.

Timber is surprisingly strong and if protected from anything thing that may eat the wood, Timber can last for years due to longevity within the material, if the construction is good.

Speed

The actual speed of construction is relatively similar with parts to make the completed structure.

But to get the parts?

Steel structures require a fabricator, to weld and fit the materials together. But many DIY the timber themselves for little projects.

For us, we have seen very little difference in the speed of construction for these two materials.

Cost

It is difficult to put the two side by side, many factors can affect the cost of a completed structure. Depending on each the cost of each stage, both timber and steel builds can vary in price.

However, the rule of thumb is that timber is more affordable.

Versatility

Steel can be bent, shaped, fabricated to be any shape needed and maintain this shape which is great for futureproofing.

Timber is also surprisingly versatile. It’s physical and technical properties make it ductile, if it has been reinforced.

But for the versatility argument, timber wins without a doubt.

Both materials have what it takes to be long lasting, it depends on the building and the overall look which will ultimately decide the material.

We love to watch the advancements in our industry, let’s see what's next.


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