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Steel Homes Vs. Stick Built

John Michael
Table of Contents

When building a home, one of the very first decisions that needs to be made is whether to use steel or wood (stick) for the frame. You should consider your individual situation before making a decision on which material to use.

Building a home

Both have distinct advantages, but they also have disadvantages that could have a major impact on your home.

Material Cost

According to a report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development conducted in 2002, the average material cost for a steel-built home is 14 percent higher than for a wood-framed home. Also, labor costs are about 4 percent higher for a steel-built home.

Environmental Impact

If the environment is a primary concern, a steel-constructed home may be the way to go. Approximately two of every three pounds of steel that go into a steel home have been recycled. Also, the majority of the steel used can be recycled again if the house is ever torn down. Wood, on the other hand, requires cutting down trees to be milled into lumber and has few recycling options. The average 2000-square-foot home requires between forty and sixty trees to be cut down and turned into 2x4s and 2x6s.

Energy Efficiency

According to the LSU Research and Extension Center, a wood home requires 17 percent less energy to "run" than a home made of steel. This is due to the fact that steel conducts heat and cold much more readily than wood does. So if it is cold out, that cold will be conducted from the outside into the home much more easily with steel than with wood. This factor somewhat offsets the environmental advantages of steel described in Section 2.


Steel construction accounts for about 4 percent of new home construction in the United States, according to the LSU Extension center. Because of the low demand, there are few contractors who are skilled in this type of construction. When building a home, you do not want someone learning on the job, you want someone who has the skills and experience to complete the job correctly, on time and on budget. Having inexperienced builders can be a recipe for disaster.

Health and Saftey

Some of the key advantages of a steel home is steel are that it is not combustible, is resistant to rot and does not decay. The home is safer, as it is less likely to burn, and the chance of health impact as a result of insects or mold is decreased.


Steel provides a consistent product. There is no warping, twisting or knots that can impact the strength and functionality of the product. Wood can experience all of these problems.

Construction Speed

Using wood tends to be a faster way to build than with steel. Using a nail gun, you can connect two boards in a matter of seconds. With steel you need fasteners, drills, screws and nuts, which all take time to connect. Also, cutting a wood board is much easier than cutting steel and does not require a special saw.