Timber Frames vs Steel Frames – We Settle the Debate
Read time: 4.9 minutes
Right now is a fantastic time to build your new home.
Thanks to government incentives and generous offers from builders, it has never been easier to afford your own place. For the first time, industry supply pressures mean that many first time builders are confronted with a choice between timber and steel frames, often at very similar prices.
We’re going to take a closer look at steel frames below, and see exactly how they stack up against traditional timber frames.
Steel Frames: The Basics
Steel frames work the same way timber does – upright studs are joined together with horizontal beams and noggings to form the skeleton of your home. Rather than building using solid metal, steel frames use bent sheet metal to create houses that are tougher and lighter.
Frame pieces are made from metal that’s around 1mm thick. The thin steel is folded to create rigid C-shaped studs that won’t bend under the weight of the house above them. This steel can be used to form walls, roof trusses and even flooring in multi-storey or raised foundation builds, and it offers plenty of benefits over traditional timber framing.
The Pros and Cons of Steel
- Steel is versatile. It can be used to create designs that are difficult to do with timber, such as complex shapes, larger open spaces and bigger windows.
- Strong. A high strength-to-weight ratio makes steel ideal for building in areas with strong winds and storms.
- Termite proof. Steel is a great solution in areas with termite problems.
- Fire resistant. More resistant to fire than timber frames, although it can still be damaged by intense heat.
- Rigid and straight. No natural bends, warping or twisting like with timber. That means straighter walls, sharper corners and fewer defects.
- Energy efficient. Straight, rigid walls mean windows and doors seal better against the frame and make heating and cooling more efficient.
- Labour intensive. Steel requires different tools, building skills and changing prefabricated frames on site can be difficult.
- Creaking. All houses make noise as they move, and steel frames have been known to creak more in some cases. Less flexibility means joints rub as the house shifts. Steel frames are now engineered with specialist brackets to reduce noise and movement as much as possible.
- Rust potential. Steel frames are galvanised which makes them resistant to rust, but there are limits. When building in damp areas or by the sea, timber may be the better option.
- Requires proper insulation. Being a good thermal conductor means steel frames need specific types of insulation. With the right kind of insulation your steel frame can be more efficient than timber, but without it your home’s efficiency will suffer.
Steel makes a great building material because it’s strong and holds its shape for decades, but it’s also one of the most recycled materials on Earth.
That’s good news for anyone building with steel. Privium sources frames made from BlueScope Steel which includes recycled steel in its manufacturing process. Your house will be built tough using recycled material and down the line the steel can be removed and recycled again into something new.
Get in Touch for More Details
Steel frames are a great upgrade that can help you get more of what you want out of your design. Due to supply issues, choosing to build with timber right now could cause significant delays in your project.
We encourage you to contact our team with any questions about steel frames and whether they are appropriate for your build.