Timber vs Steel Frames for Home Building
Building your own home brings a lot of issues that need to be resolved, from legal hindrances, all the way to choosing the colour of the final coat of paint. One dilemma, that you will be required to answer to early on, is choosing the framing material. Essentially, there are two main materials to choose from and those you will most likely be offered by the contractor: timber or steel. None of the two materials are bad on their own, but one can prove more suitable than the other in the case of your home. In order not to be tricked by builders, you have to decide on your own by taking into consideration several factors. Some of them are listed below, but in the end, it is the overall context of your future home that will make you settle on one of them.
The issue of cost
Which construction is going to be cheaper to install is going to be related to the availability of the building material. There are numerous timber yards that even sell pre-fabricated parts of the house structure, so it is definitely cheaper to get timber. Admittedly, metal is available but shaping it into the right segments needed for house frames takes both time and money that you may not have. Perhaps you can find pre-fabricated metal segments and purchase them for the right price but you will have to search far and wide for these.
Once the house gets erected, the material which the frame is built from is going to influence the sound isolation of tiled walls and ceiling. We know from the basics of thermodynamics that steel expands when exposed to high temperatures and it shrinks when exposed to cold. This would definitely influence the level of noise it creates, but you have to keep in mind that the frame is covered by several layers of other protective materials. That is why metal will “move” less than wood which reacts to a greater extent to the temperatures outside. Also, squeaking floor panels alone are enough to drive the tenants crazy!
Protection against termites
Wood is a natural material but this does not come without its downside. Namely, it is a breeding ground for termites that can eat thought not only your furniture but the supporting structure as well. Of course, they are not going to sever a beam or anything like that but they can still weaken the structure to the breaking point. Just imagine what would happen if you had termites in the attic, slowly eating away the roof’s understructure. Steel is in this case far superior to wood as there are no critters interested in nibbling on it.
Furthermore, if you go to companies such as ATS Building Products they can customize the steel you need and deliver it ready-made. This way, it can be installed immediately without having to be assembled on site, protecting it against the elements and preventing corrosion.
If you are eco-friendly and take care of how much energy is needed to produce each of the competing frames, then timber should be your first choice. Basically, all that is needed is to cut a tree, process it and woilà, you have a wooded plank ready to be installed into any structure. Steel uses up much more of Earth’s resources to be produced but this elaborate manufacturing process is there to ensure its longevity. After all, a timber house structure requires at least two dozen trees to be fallen, which is an entire grove. Both materials are not 100% eco-friendly, so the decision is really up to you in which you want to damage (or not) the environment.
Does popularity count?
Many indecisive homeowners are caught in the trend to use as much timber as possible, so they chose frames made from wood. Although timber is in vogue in the construction industry, the final choice should be made according to the needs of your house in particular. Parameters such as climate, total budget, and the location of the house should take precedence over the popularity of any given material. Who knows, in a few years’ time steel might become ultra-popular.
Before making the final decision, let the contractor know that you have a say in choosing the material of the frame. Set everything on paper and decide whether you’ll go with timber or steel.