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Timber vs Steel Frames – What’s The Better Option?

steel frames construction site

When choosing between steel frames and timber frames to build in Australia, there are many advantages and disadvantages to each to consider.

When choosing between either option, you should consider the following factors:

  • Cost of materials and labour
  • The longevity of the finished product
  • Warranties
  • Environmental sustainability
  • What will best suit your site
  • Any ecological factors that may affect your area such as fires, storms or earthquakes
  • Flexibility and ability to make changes during the build phase

We’ve broken down these advantages and disadvantages to help you make a decision as to what materials are right for your next home.

STEEL FRAMES

Choosing steel frames and trusses has a range of benefits for builders, designers and homeowners. Here is a list of the associated Pros and Cons of steel frames:   

Weight & Strength

A steel-framed house is generally lighter than a house framed out of timber; steel has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any material used in construction. This means that steel components are more robust without adding much weight. Steel has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any current residential building material. Steel frames and trusses provide a strong foundation for your home with no risk of warping or flex.

Build Efficiency

Steel frames and trusses are pre-engineered to an exact design at our factory and then shipped out, ready for construction. This prefabrication speeds up the building process significantly, saving both time and money in labour costs.

Pest Resistant

Steel is 100% resistant to pests such as termites and borers making it a reliable choice for your building.

Durability 

Steel Framing offers unsurpassed durability when compared with Timber frames. It won’t warp or flex as timber does, meaning the lines of your building remain straight and true over time.  

Those who build with frames made from NEXTRUSS Steel will be reassured with a staggering 50-year warranty.

Fire Resistant

Steel is 100% non-combustible, making it the logical building material for bushfire prone areas.

Environmentally Sound

Australian Steel Framing can earn builders points towards green certification programs. A quality Australian Steel Frame can create an airtight and well-insulated, energy-efficient home.

Disadvantages

Typically cost is seen as the main disadvantage of building with a steel frame, and there is an element of truth to this assumption as the raw cost of steel is more expensive than timber. However, due to the precision and accuracy of the prefabrication, assembly time is significantly reduced, meaning you will save thousands on labour costs along with decreasing the overall build time. The durability of steel will save you maintenance and repair costs. Insurance costs are also, in many cases, lower for homes with steel frame construction.

The environmental cost in terms of energy consumption to produce steel is the main disadvantage.

TIMBER FRAMES

You don’t need research to prove that timber frames work. Hundreds of years of building history will prove that. Timber house frames are the most popular choice of frame and truss in Australia.

Here is a list of the associated Pros and Cons of timber frames:

Readily Available

Timber farming can be easily sourced from any local hardware or building supplies store; meaning framing can generally be constructed quickly on site. However, because the building of timber framing occurs on-site, there may be errors, creating waste and increasing labour costs.

Ease Of Use

Nearly all builders are very familiar and experienced with building framing out of timber. Timber can easily be cut to size to suit on the fly modifications to your plan on-site.

Renewable Resource 

Timber is both a renewable resource and a natural product, making it environmentally friendly. Particularly timber sourced from sustainable and ethically sourced suppliers.

Natural Insulator

Timber will gather heat in the day and slowly release that heat throughout the night.

Disadvantages

While the initial cost for the timber to construct the frame is cheaper than steel, the construction process takes place on-site. All wood needs to be measured and cut to size, as opposed to steel framing that comes prefabricated chiefly off-site ready for erection upon delivery.

The other main deterrent to using timber framing is its susceptibility to pests and the elements such as fire, wind and storm.

Any number of pests can compromise the integrity of the timber. That ranges from termites, borers, vermin to possums. Wood is a lot easier to chew through than steel!

Lastly, timber is susceptible to moisture. As timber absorbs water, it will expand then will contract as it dries out. This expansion and contraction can cause the attached coverings such as your gyprock and cornice to warp and crack over time. It can be a breeding ground for mould and fungi, which pose significant health risks.

A building frame made from NEXTRUSS Steel’s steel is strong, straight and precise, won’t twist or warp over time and won’t catch fire.

There you have it! Both Steel and Timber framing have their unique advantages and disadvantages. If you’re considering a steel framed house, we would be more than happy to discuss your options further. Get in touch today.

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About NEXTRUSS

NEXTRUSS Steel is a fully sustainable building process that uses proprietary software and manufacturing equipment to provide you with preassembled steel framing solutions.

At NEXTRUSS Steel we have a reputation for integrity, quality and reliability – that is why we include a 50-year warranty* against defect.

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