Why Steel Buildings Are Now Better than Wood

Why Steel Buildings Are Now Better than Wood

Steel buildings offer a number of advantages over traditional wood-frame structures.

Wood-frame construction has long been a popular choice for agricultural, commercial and industrial operations across Northern Alberta. However, in recent years, more companies have started to recognize that steel buildings have surpassed their traditional counterparts in many ways.

Whether it’s reduced construction times and labour costs, or structural integrity and durability, wood simply can’t compare to a pre-engineered steel building. Here is a head-to-head comparison of the two methods.


Construction Time

Any time you construct a wood-frame building, you need skilled labourers onsite for a range of tasks, including:

  • Cutting
  • Framing
  • Drilling
  • Measuring

This all takes time, which adds to your total labour cost. With a steel building, all of the individual members and panels are manufactured offsite in a controlled environment. They are then delivered to the job site ready for installation, which streamlines the entire erection process.



Under ideal conditions, wood is an incredibly durable product. However, in the presence of moisture, it can rot. Even seasonal changes in humidity can cause wood to expand and contract, which can cause it to warp, crack and shift. Furthermore, wood is vulnerable to pests, such as termites and ants, whereas a steel structure is not. 

While steel buildings are prone to corrosion in a damp environment, a combination of proper ventilation, moisture barrier and insulation will keep moisture in check.


Fire Rating

When it comes to fire resistance, there is no comparison between metal and wood. The former is a far superior material.


Product Consistency

The quality of milled lumber can vary tremendously from one region to the next. Trees are living things, and no two are the same, which makes it difficult to produce a consistent product, even if the lumber is designated with the same grade. 

Steel, meanwhile, is manufactured to extremely tight tolerances and is, therefore, a more predictable building material.


Foundational Requirements

While steel is heavier than wood, it features a superior strength-to-weight ratio. As a result, the individual members of commercial steel buildings can actually be made lighter and still achieve the same (or better) load-bearing properties.

As a result, the overall structure of a pre-engineered building will weigh less than that of a wood structure. This, in turn, means the required foundational support will be less, saving you money.


Seismic and Weather Events

Given its greater strength properties, it’s understandable that a steel-frame building would be better able to withstand a range of weather-related events, such as: 

  • Earthquakes
  • Hurricanes
  • Heavy snow loads
  • High winds


To learn about another important advantage of choosing steel as a building material, read about the Environment Benefits of Building with Steel.


To learn why steel buildings have become so popular in North Alberta, talk to Metal Structure Concepts. Whether you need an industrial or agricultural building, our team will make your design a reality.