When building a house or other structure, the material used has a significant impact on the final result. While there are many different materials with various characteristics, it is crucial to understand the pros and cons of each material.
The two most common building materials used today are steel and wood. Steel is a metal commonly used for the frame of buildings, bridges, and other structures. On the other hand, wood is used primarily for building timber frame structures.
Both materials have their benefits, and in this article, we will compare steel and wood to see which one is better for construction.
What is Steel?
Steel is one of the go-to materials in the construction world. It’s a malleable metal, meaning that it can be shaped by heat or cold and formed into different shapes by hammering or welding. It’s also relatively inexpensive, light, strong, and easy to work with. These factors make it an ideal material for a host of different applications.
Steel is chiefly composed of iron and carbon. Other minerals, such as manganese and sulfur, may also be present. These elements combine to create a variety of different forms of steel. The most common form of steel is high-carbon structural steel, used for the framework of buildings and other large structures.
What is Wood?
Unlike steel, which is a metal, wood is a natural material that comes in various forms, each with unique properties. Wood can be categorized in two ways that is hard and soft. Hardwoods make good structural materials, such as planks, beams, and columns. Softwoods are commonly used for building timbers and other various construction applications. Read more about How to evict a tenant.
In addition to these basic categories, there are several other types of wood with unique characteristics. These include fir, cypress, redwood, cedar, hemlock, etc.
Steel vs Wood
Both steel and wood are common building materials, but which one is better? To answer this question, we have to look at various factors, such as price, availability, and durability. When it comes to price, steel is much cheaper than wood. It costs about one-fifth as much to erect a structure out of wood as it does to erect one out of steel.
For availability, steel is more accessible to come by than wood. While it may cost more upfront to purchase steel, it’s more accessible to many more people in the long run. When it comes to durability, steel wins this one as well. While wood is more likely to rot, burst into flames, and otherwise disintegrate over time, steel is more likely to stand the test of time.
Which is Better for Construction?
For many applications, it’s pretty obvious which material is better for construction. Steel is excellent for erecting large structures, like steel buildings, bridges, and other large infrastructure. On the other hand, wood is better suited for smaller projects, like decks, outdoor furniture, and other miscellaneous construction.
Pros and Cons of Using Steel and Wood
- Steel has a longer lifespan than wood. This means that, over time, the cost of maintaining a structure made of steel will be less than the cost of maintaining a structure made of wood.
- Steel is stronger than wood. This means that if one were to use steel, they would require fewer pieces of material to complete the structure. This can result in cost savings.
- Steel is easier to work with and more durable than wood. Wood can rot, split, and otherwise deteriorate over time. This means that if someone were to build with wood, they would likely have to redo some of the construction. Using steel, however, will result in less work overall.
- Steel does not require maintenance, such as sawing of logs, as much as wood does. This means less time and effort spent maintaining a woodlot.
Ultimately, the decision to use steel or wood for a construction project depends on personal preference. While steel is more robust, lighter, and more durable than wood, it does cost more to erect a structure out of steel.
If cost is a major factor, like in a construction project where money is tight, steel would be the better choice. However, if a project required a certain amount of wood but money was tight, it would be wiser to use the cheaper material.
This decision doesn’t have to be an either-or proposition. Many structural engineers will use steel and wood in the same structure. As long as the right calculations are performed, such as determining the load-bearing capabilities of each material, it’s perfectly acceptable to use both steel and wood in a construction project.