Building with Steel vs Wood: Why Steel Remains Superior

Steel is one of the world's most used building materials due to its unparalleled strength, durability, versatility, and sustainability. This robust material has played a vital role in industrial and commercial building construction, helping to create buildings that truly stand the test of time. Its popularity has increased over the years, while timber's popularity has declined significantly.

So, why is steel the top choice in commercial construction today, and what are the limitations of wood? Here we discuss the many benefits of building with steel vs timber and why it remains the superior choice in commercial construction.

Steel is the Sustainable Choice

Sustainability is always a top consideration when weighing the benefits of building with steel vs wood. Businesses worldwide are seeking ways to reduce their environmental impact, and steel is the answer.

“Sustainability is a huge part of what businesses are looking for these days, not only their own businesses and how they operate but also in the buildings they occupy,”

– Coresteel’s Commercial Manager, Simon Archer, explains.

Steel’s recycling capabilities are limitless, making it the ideal choice for large-scale commercial builds. It can be reused in construction projects repeatedly, significantly reducing waste and the need for new materials. Using steel in construction can also considerably reduce carbon emissions. For example, Coresteel’s structural system, DonoBeam, is manufactured to reduce carbon emissions by up to 40%. 

In contrast, using timber in large-scale construction has created concerns about deforestation and sustainability. Harvesting timber can negatively impact local ecosystems and biodiversity when not done sustainably. Additionally, timber waste generated during construction can contribute to landfill waste, which has environmental impacts such as soil and water pollution.

Steel Offers Incredible Design Flexibility

Engineers, builders, and architects worldwide favour structural steel due to its incredible design flexibility. This flexibility makes it possible for builders to create complex designs that meet the expectations of businesses in all industries. Steel offers various building possibilities, from steel aircraft hangars and multi-tenant offices to commercial warehouses, storage units, and workshops. There are also plenty of opportunities for customisation to make these buildings stand out in a competitive market.

Timber, on the other hand, presents various design limitations. While it can be a viable choice for smaller residential structures, it is generally unsuitable for complex, large-scale projects.

Steel Delivers Unparalleled Strength & Durability

Durability is one of the biggest reasons many businesses choose steel over timber. Steel buildings can last decades without losing their quality. Investing in steel building construction is a smart move for business owners that want buildings that will last in the long term.

Steel is well-known for its unparalleled strength. Its high strength-to-weight ratio means it’s more robust than other materials of similar weight, allowing businesses to create large, complex long-span structures with relatively little material. 

Steel’s high strength is ideal for building in harsh New Zealand weather. Steel buildings can withstand extreme forces and conditions, from high winds and rain to seismic activity that New Zealand is not unfamiliar with. It’s also highly resistant to fire, helping to keep buildings safe. 

There is little debate when we compare the strength of steel vs timber. While timber is well-suited to smaller-scale builds like sheds or temporary structures, it lacks the strength to hold heavier loads. It’s also much more vulnerable to the elements; timber buildings can easily crack, split, or collapse in harsh weather.

Steel Framing is Faster to Construct

Steel frame construction is fast and straightforward, reducing labour and costs. Prefabrication of steel buildings enables the quick assembly of the entire frame on the ground, thereby minimising the need for on-site welding. Steel also has no moisture absorption, which means builders don’t have to wait for the framing to dry out before they can line. In addition, steel properties are always straight and true, so builders don’t have to fix issues with twisting and warping.

Timber construction is typically less straightforward. Unlike steel, timber is prone to twisting and warping, which builders must address. These challenges can result in slower construction times and higher labour costs.

How Does Coresteel Use Steel in its Building Projects?

At Coresteel, we use hard-wearing steel in all our commercial and industrial builds. From retail premises and modern offices to large-scale warehouses and manufacturing facilities, we’ve completed successful steel builds for clients in various industries. We provide our clients with long-lasting, spacious, customised buildings that meet their unique business demands.

At Coresteel, two exclusive structural systems make this possible: DonoBeam and the Bracketless Portal System. These industry-leading structural systems expand the possibilities of building size. We can adapt them to create tailor-made steel buildings of virtually any size. DonoBeam, in particular, is revolutionising steel building construction thanks to its innovative and economical design.

Create Long-Lasting Steel Buildings with Coresteel

In the debate between steel vs timber, steel wins every time regarding its suitability for commercial building construction. At Coresteel, creating sustainable and robust steel buildings is what we’re all about. We’ll take the time to listen to your needs and bring your vision to life with our unique construction methods. Talk to your local Coresteel expert today to discuss your project requirements.

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