Timber or Steel? The great debate.
When building a home, not many home owners specify the structural material they want to hold up their home. There are many to choose from but a common question is around using timber or steel. Typically this decision has been made by the builder without any discussion with the homeowners. While we think most builders know best and choose timber, we think as an owner builder or an engaged owner, you should be insisting on a timber frame and these are some of the reasons why.
1. Lower Costs – Steel is costly and not very flexible; a simple mistake can cost builders hours in labour and other material costs. The lack of flexibility can also make renovations harder down the line.
2. Better for the Environment – Steel production needs lots of energy and remains one of the major polluters on the planet. Plantation timber is a renewable building material and every cubic metre of kiln dried pine we make, represents 631kg of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide being removed from our atmosphere and locked into the timber.
3. Better Fire Resistance – When exposed to fire, timber maintains its structural integrity longer than steel which loses strength rapidly when exposed to heat.
4. No Creaking – Steel is more likely to expand in the harsh Australian summer months, putting pressure on different areas of the home. This may cause steel framed houses to be noisy, creaking during temperature changes.
5. Less Cracking – There are not many things worse for a homeowner than cracks appearing inside your house. Due to Australian temperature extremes, steel framing can expand and redact more, making cracks likely. Timber framing has a lower thermal bride and therefore expands and contracts far less in our harsh Australian climate.
6. Lower Energy Bills – Timber framing is more energy efficient than steel so timber framed homes stay cooler in summer and warmer in winter, saving you money on your energy bills.
7. Easier to Use – Timber framing can be constructed quickly and easily and altered to suit your home’s design. Only steel framing specialists are permitted to put together steel frame kits, whereas a large portion of tradies have experience working with timber on a daily basis.
8. Design Flexibility – It’s hard to put a nail into steel. Everything from hanging art to putting cabinets in is easier in a timber framed house.
Timber is by far and away the leading choice amongst builders and architects in Australia and around the world. When it comes to Timber or Steel, there really is no choice. Timber is lightweight, flexible, easy to use, cost effective and the environmentally responsible choice.
Learn more about the right structural timber for your next project in our resources and tech docs section.