The frame of a home is its backbone so it’s important that it’s strong and secure. There have been many debates over the years over timber framed homes versus steel framed homes. While both steel framed homes and timber framed homes have their pros and cons, it seems that steel framed homes are the standout product of the two.

Traditionally, homes have been built with timber frames, with steel framed homes only recently making an appearance. There have been many misconceptions over the years in regards to steel framed kit homes, however as they have become more common, many of these myths have been proven false. If you are thinking about building a home and can’t decide on a timber or steel framed home, it is important to understand the options and implications of your choice. The decisions that you make when building your home can impact the cost and circumstances of your home now and in the future.

Here is a comparison between steel framed homes and timber framed homes.

A house being built with steel frames in Australia

Factors to consider when selecting a house frame:

House Movements

Even the slightest movements in a house frame can result in cracking of the plasterboard inside the house. Movements of the frame can also cause what is often referred to as ‘creaking’ or noises in the house. Steel framed kit homes are constructed with fixed brackets, screws and bolts, therefore, are incredibly strong and durable. Although movement is not eliminated entirely, steel framed homes move less than timber framed homes. In addition, unlike timber, steel frames don’t twist, warp, shrink or buckle so you can expect less overall movement with a steel framed home.

A 3 bedroom steel frame home plan - Homefab

Environmental Impact

Steel is 100% recyclable and can be built with minimal site impact and waste. The construction site for a steel framed home is much tidier than that of a timber framed home. Steel is lightweight and is delivered to the site pre-cut. In addition, due to the strength of steel, there is less need to cut into the ground and therefore less impact on the site.

Strength

Steel is considered to be a more durable material than timber. Steel framed kit homes are designed to withstand cyclonic winds found in the northern tip of Australia. Steel frames can also survive bushfires which are a common problem throughout Australia.

A steel framed house

Cost of the home

Steel and timber framed homes can be difficult to compare in terms of cost. As a general rule, the raw cost of steel is more expensive than timber. However, there are a lot of different costs in the manufacturing and installation of steel and timber framed homes that can affect the overall cost. Most steel framed homes are prefabricated off-site which reduces construction labour cost and wastage costs. Overall, the cost of timber framed homes versus steel framed homes ends up being very similar.

Steel frames are 30-50% lighter than timber frames. This material is naturally denser and conveys a heavier load, providing more support with less materials used than what is used in a traditional build with timber framing. The smaller amount of materials used and lower waste percentage with steel framed builds, helps to maintain cost savings and the environmentally friendly status.

Builders working on a steel home in Australia

Sustainability

 

We live in an ecologically driven climate that makes environmental impact and sustainability a huge factor in sourcing materials. With the competition high on top options between Steel framing and Timber framing, the choice can seem difficult.

Timber supply is heavily reliant on deforestation and land clearing methods with the use of emission generating machinery, making Steel framing the more environmentally friendly option.

As a naturally sourced product, not all timber is able to be rendered fit for production purposes, leading to a higher waste percentage. In general, more timber trusses are required for traditional building to support the structural load in preventing structural failure and the steel has high tensile strength that can handle the structural load more effectively with less support.

The steel frame manufacturing process is founded upon precision and does not encourage environmental waste. Despite its manufacturing process being energy-intensive, steel is 100% recyclable. This allows steel the ability to offset its carbon footprint during creation by its reusability.

A 4 bedroom steel frame home plan - Homefab

Termites and Insects

 

Australia’s climate & habitat varies greatly throughout the states. From Termites to Borers, we all are susceptible to the gnawing of pests, posing serious threat to our homes.

Insects are an important aspect to consider when it comes to choosing between steel or timber frames for your home. Wood gnawing insects are drawn to all forms of timber for sustenance, Steel however, is non consumable. As many of these insects can be quite ravenous, Timber-framed homes are at high risk for damage and structural weakness. As a result, this can lead to framing and foundations needing to be replaced, driving up the overall cost of your home over the years.

Although termites and other insects may be drawn to wooden based materials chosen for the external perimeters around the base of your Steel framed home, the integrity of your steel foundations and framing will not be compromised due to TRUECORE® steel being a ferrous metal.

A house built on steel frames in Australia

Condensation

 

Condensation occurs when air is cooled to dew point. Most often this happens when warm air encounters a cold surface that cools the moisture laden air to dew point.

During Australia’s winter months, condensation is prevalent. Unfortunately for those in the Tropics, this can also occur in Summer when air-conditioners are in high use.

Interstitial condensation (meaning inside an enclosed wall or roof cavity) can occur with both timber steel frames. Yet if we were to calculate the risk of high condensation levels between timber and steel frames, timber is more susceptible damage due to its naturally porous state, leading to water retention and the possibility of water rot.

TRUECORE® steel is a ferrous metal and is inert to moisture.

In Queensland, our energy efficiency ratings required for new builds, help to make sure that there is sufficient air flow options, like windows and fans, to prevent humid air from being trapped and possibly causing undue condensation.

A Steel kit home in Australia

Natural disasters

 

Australia is home to a diverse range of weather conditions, Predominantly Bush fires and Cyclones. Since bush fires and cyclones occur yearly, from the minor to the catastrophic, it is important to consider the impact of natural disasters on the homes we build for safety concerns.

The steel used in our steel framing is a non-combustible material giving it better resistance to heat. This is incredibly helpful in Australia’s hot summers and can ensure durability in bushfire season. TRUECORE® steel is non fire propagated, hence minimum fire risk up to a temperature of 300 degrees Celsius and can withstand around 600°C with its original strength intact. This demonstrates that they are likely to hold their own in the event of a bushfire. Timber frames can indeed be paired with other home installations, such as chemical treatments, sprinkler systems and fireproof cladding; to make them more resistant to natural disasters. However, this reliance on modern technology lowers their efficiency rating and could raise your budget.

TRUECORE® Steel is Straight and True, it doesn’t twist, warp or shrink; keeping your home stable for years to come. Steel framing can be rolled to cater to all Australian Wind Ratings, meaning it can accommodate the strong winds and harsh conditions of cyclones and storms that are a regular occurrence across Australia.

Grounding the steel frames also reduces the risk to your home during lightning strikes, relative to non-conductive materials due to the higher energy dissipation capability of steel.

A steel home built in Australia

Contact us today to learn more

There are a number of important factors to consider when deciding between a steel framed home and a timber framed home.

With both steel and timber having good and bad points, steel seems to offer a number of advantages over timber as a home building product.

Not only are steel frames stronger and more durable than timber frames, they also move less and are more environmentally friendly.

If you would like to know more about Steel Framed homes, contact our friendly team at Homefab Ph (07) 4092 2369 Mobile: 0417 641 970 or Email: sales@homefab.com.au