Houses have been built with wood for hundreds of years, and lumber is by far the
most popular framing material for homes. However, a dwindling supply of old growth trees
and environmental concerns have steadily increased the price of wood while quality has
declined. Steel framing studs, which have been used to frame commercial buildings for
generations, are now available for use in homes at more affordable prices. When deciding
between steel and wood framing it’s necessary to compare the pros and cons of both
Steel is stronger and more resistant to fire, earthquake and tornado damage and can cost less to insure. Walls, floors and roofs consistently stay straight. Steel can reduce air leakage and energy costs because the structure moves less than when wood framing is used. Steel does not rot, warp, crack, split or change with the weather and it is termite and vermin proof. Finally, steel is saves trees, is non-toxic and creates 100 percent recyclable waste.
However, most contractors still frame only with lumber. Working with steel requires different tools and skills, so there is a big learning curve for carpenters. Steel is more expensive than lumber (an average sized three-bedroom home would cost an extra $1.57 per square foot with steel) and mistakes are more costly. Steel can be difficult to work with in the sun and heat, and can cause lacerations if not handled properly. For this reason, some
companies construct metal framed walls in their shop to be delivered and erected on site.