Building Material Comparison: Traditional vs Modern

Are you planning a new build for your business? At Coresteel, we understand that a thriving commercial build relies on meticulous planning and a well-defined vision, starting with the careful selection of appropriate materials. The materials used to bring your building to life can shape its longevity, aesthetic appeal, and ability to attract new customers.

So, which material is most reliable for large-scale commercial builds like warehouses, multi-tenant buildings, or manufacturing facilities? We’re here to settle the debate. Join us as we navigate the building materials landscape, comparing traditional materials like wood and stone to modern options like steel and concrete.

How to Choose the Right Material: Key Factors to Consider

Before diving into our building material comparison, let’s explore the key factors influencing material selection in commercial construction.

Durability: How Does the Material Stand Against the Elements?

Commercial construction is a substantial investment for any business. Whether you’re creating a warehouse or manufacturing facility, resilience against the elements is critical for a business’s growth, longevity, and reputation. 

Ideally, your chosen building material should be resistant to corrosion and pests. It should also have the structural integrity to withstand seismic activity and harsh weather, like heavy rain and hail. Such strength and durability will help protect your investment for many years.

Aesthetics: What are the Design Possibilities?

A beautifully designed commercial building that reflects your brand can help your business attract more customers, clients, or visitors. Are you going for a classic, natural design or a sleek, modern look? Some materials, like steel, offer better customisation possibilities than others, allowing for greater flexibility in the design process. Your Coresteel project manager will guide you through this process, helping you to design the perfect building for your needs.

Affordability: Is it Cost-Effective in the Long Term?

Your choice of building material can impact construction costs in various ways. Materials that are easier to work with and require less specialised labour can help reduce installation costs. Durable, hard-wearing materials are also more cost-effective in the long term, as they typically have lower maintenance requirements.

Environmental Impact: Does it Harm the Environment?

The materials used in the building process can significantly impact the environment, so it’s important to think responsibly when creating new structures. When comparing different materials, consider their extraction methods, manufacturing processes, and overall lifecycle to help you determine which has the least environmental impact.

Coresteel’s steel portal system, DonoBeam, presents an environmentally-conscious solution with up to 40% fewer carbon emissions when compared to conventional steel construction methods. This includes a reduction of up to 25% in steel emissions and up to 26% in transport-related emissions.

Time to Build: Does it Allow for Fast Construction?

How quickly do you need your building up and running? Modern building materials are best for projects with tight deadlines, allowing for faster construction methods, such as prefabrication. Prefabrication involves manufacturing building components off-site in a controlled environment before delivering them to the construction site. At Coresteel, all of our buildings are prefabricated at our Northland-based manufacturing facility to ensure a speedy construction process.

Modern Building Materials

Marked by their strength, versatility, and compatibility with contemporary architectural design, concrete and steel are the most widely used modern building materials in commercial construction. Let’s explore each in more detail.


Steel is the world’s most resilient building material and the number one choice among commercial and industrial builders. Its popularity stems from its versatility, strength, and ability to withstand various environmental conditions.

One of the key advantages of steel is its high tensile strength, which allows architects and engineers to create structures with large open spaces and unique designs. At Coresteel, we have an extensive portfolio of buildings created using hard-wearing steel, from modern retail stores and office buildings to warehouses, commercial storage units, and aircraft hangars.


Concrete is popular for numerous types of building construction. Properly maintained concrete can withstand environmental factors and remain durable over time. However, it is relatively weak in tension, increasing the risk of cracking, especially in large, monolithic structures. 

Traditional Building Materials

Traditional materials like wood and brick have been fundamental to construction for centuries, shaping skylines and small-town landscapes worldwide. Let’s explore how they compare to modern materials.


As one of the world’s oldest building materials, wood remains popular for residential and smaller-scale builds. However, its susceptibility to fire and pests, dimensional instability, and lower load-bearing capacity can make it unsuitable for large-scale commercial or industrial builds.


Brick is well known for its durability. Its ability to withstand harsh weather makes it suitable for various building types. However, unlike the lightweight nature of steel, bricks are heavy, potentially requiring additional structural support. They are also susceptible to absorbing moisture, leading to potential issues such as efflorescence or mould in certain climates.

Final Verdict: What is the Best Building Material for Commercial Projects

Commercial builds require a sound and robust structural design to ensure their safety and longevity. They should be spacious enough to accommodate various operational needs and equipment storage. 

Steel meets all these demands, making it the best building material for commercial construction.

  • Durable – Steel is well known for its incredible durability and resilience. Its ability to withstand harsh weather and maintain structural integrity sets it apart from any other material.
  • Sustainable – Steel is highly recyclable, making it a sustainable choice for commercial builds. 
  • Stylish – Steel’s clean lines and sleek profile offer a beautiful contemporary aesthetic ideal for commercial builds. It is also easily customisable, allowing designers to experiment with different looks and styles.
  • Cost Effective – While the upfront cost of steel might be higher than some other materials, its long-term benefits, such as low maintenance and repair costs, make it a cost-effective choice for commercial builds.
  • Fast Construction – Steel builds typically use a modular construction approach, allowing for faster assembly on-site. 

Get Your Project Started with Coresteel Today

True to our name, we’re all about steel here at Coresteel. We have created beautiful steel builds for NZ clients in various industries using our innovative structural systems and technology. If you’re ready to make your mark on the commercial building scene, contact your local Coresteel expert today. Our skilled designers, engineers, and builders look forward to bringing your project to life.

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