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Should You Build Houses with Wood or Steel Frames

The frame of a building is no different than the skeletons of a human body, considering that both serve as a backbone and hold everything up together and in place. This underlines the importance of a safe, secure, and strong building frame.

In Australia, your options are between steel and timber frames, both of which have their share of pros and cons. So even if the decision usually comes down to personal choice, it is vital that you understand the benefits of your options, their effects in the future and costs of a building.

Timber Frame vs. Steel Frame Houses

Steel Frame

  • Cost

There are lots of different costs in the manufacturing and installation of a steel frame that may affect the price. For example, many steel frames are created off-site and pre-fabricated to drive efficiencies and reduce wastage and costs. As a general rule, the raw cost of the steel is more expensive than timber, however on a fully installed basis you may find the finished cost of the total frame is similar to timber.

  • Strength and Quality

Steel is considered more durable than timber. But the strength and quality of a building, however, greatly depends on how a structure is designed and built. A home that is professionally engineered to meet Australian Standards will meet the test of time regardless of the frame material used.

  • Environmental Impact

Steel is 100% recyclable and is one of the most recycled materials on earth. This is great if you are interested in reducing your environmental footprint. Steel frames also allow for the ability to seal around door frames and windows, so in the long run, they may reduce the cost and environmental impact of running heating and cooling in your home.

  • Termite Protection

Steel is 100% termite-proof, which basically makes a steel frame invincible against white ants. This doesn’t mean, however, that you no longer need a termite protection system. If you use timber or wood in other areas of your home, you still need to protect it against termites. Where a steel frame is concerned, however, termites will not touch it.

  • Frame Movements

Generally, building frames move, and the slightest movement can cause a steel frame to creak or make noises. With fixed brackets and connections and secure screws and bolts, creaking can be minimised, if not eliminated entirely. A steel frame does not twist, warp, shrink, or buckle either.

Timber Frame

  • Cost

Is it cheaper to build with wood or steel? Because wood is readily available and easily sourced, it is often cheaper to build with than steel. However, because most/all of the construction occurs on-site, there may be errors, creating waste and increasing the cost of labour.

  • Natural Product

Timber is one of the few building materials that is a natural product. It is non toxic, does not leak chemicals and is safe to touch. This could be a great option for your new home build.

  • Quick Build Time

Timber is easily sourced and framing can generally be constructed quickly on site. This is usually a more straightforward process that includes less lifting equipment because timber is a lightweight product. However, there can be mistakes made, we are all human, which can extend the process and require tradespeople longer. Compared to steel frames, due to the off-site preparation normally done with steel, the timeframes to erect can often be very similar.

  • Rust Protection

While steel is a great way to avoid termites it should also be considered that a timber frame is a sure way to avoid rust. If you are building in a coastal area (lucky you) or if there are water leakages, rust could eat away at your steel frame.

Still don’t know what to choose?
It’s not easy to choose between a timber frame or steel frame houses but iBuildNew can provide you with professional advice on which material to use for a specific house design that will be built on a certain location. We will take into consideration all your needs and the factors that make a material a suitable choice. Whichever is the case, we will ensure building and installation will comply with Australian Standards.

Its a tough choice between steel and timber, have you considered your options in terms of foundations?

Speak to one of our phone operators today and they will answer all your questions about steel and timber frame and anything else you might want to know. You can call them on 1800 184 284 or book a call online.

iBuildnew Advisory Team
Let us do the legwork for you.
  • We’ll ask the right questions to better understand your needs
  • We’ll create a recommended shortlist ideally matched to you
  • We’ll answer specific questions or concerns related to home building, land purchasing or financing


Ben is a passionate home renovator who is forever making improvements around the home and garden


iBuildNew is the market leading aggregator dedicated to residential home construction and land development. As an independent platform, iBuildNew helps Australians identify and compare new home designs, house and land packages and land estates. It’s the smart way home buyers, who are considering a new build, can find the ideal options to match their individual needs. Home building is a big decision, we make sure you get it right.

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