As we saw in 2021, lumber prices went sky high. While wood is a popular option, steel is of equal value to wood for building schools, hospitals, and offices. Wood and steel both have their strengths and weaknesses when using them for a build. Sometimes one option makes more sense than the other depending on what is needed, or it can come down to preference. Steel is often overlooked but outperforms wood in many scenarios showing that this must change in the construction industry.
Strength of Steel
Compared to wood, steel can more easily withstand earthquakes, wind, snow, and all-around can withstand natural disasters. According to the UN, climate and weather-related disasters surged five-fold over 50 years. Your chance of experiencing difficult weather conditions that can damage your business is only likely to increase in the future. A facility built with a steel framework can provide you with security against disasters. Steel will not warp over time like wood does and provides structural integrity.
Can Stand the Heat
Steel is fire-resistant and non-combustible, making it a good choice for facilities in areas prone to wildfires like the western USA. In 2020, California had around 11,830,040 acres burned by wildfires, the highest amount of all the states! A metal frame could survive a fire if that were unfortunate enough to happen. This can make it possible to reuse the structure, saving time and money. Wood burns while steel is resistant to fire, making it necessary for building in drought and wildfire-prone regions.
One of steel’s best strengths is being resistant to pests because the pests cannot burrow in the steel. Unlike wood, steel is also resistant to moisture, preventing rot and mold growth. Not using wood can lessen the chance of irreparable damage to a structure due to pests like termites. The National Pest Management Association reports that termites cause more than 5 billion in property damage.
Sustainable and Recyclable
Steel lasts longer and is more durable against many forms of damage than wood, needing replacement less often. Most steel contains 25% recycled materials, and steel is 100% recyclable, making it sustainable. Light-gauge steel provides a cleaner and safer work environment by reducing one’s carbon footprint and being lighter in weight. Steel frames allow for more significant spacing requirements, using fewer materials and saving resources.
Steel can cost more than wood, but it can be cheaper when included in a prefab process. Forever climbing wood costs make steel an alternative when wood is too high or not in supply due to shortages. Using prefab construction shortens building times by half, and with steel as a material, it will give you cost-saving benefits. Structures prefabricated with light-gauge steel may qualify up to 30% in insurance savings compared to wood. Steel requires more minor repairs over time, which means you will spend less as the years go on. This cannot be said for wood that is combustible and more susceptible to nature's wrath.