Steel vs Wood Frame

Metal Carports, Garages & Building vs. Wood Frame: What's the Difference?

Darrel Uselton - March 21, 2022

Are you building a detached garage, carport, shop building or other other structure and wondering whether a wood or metal building would better suit your needs?

Both building types come with pros and cons. Choosing between the two depends on preference, budget, and your desired outcome. 

Budget Busting

Galvanized Metal Tubing Structures rank high due to their affordability and average about $15-18 a square foot to build, a far lower cost than a wood structures' square foot rates.

Cost per square foot varies from one region of the country to another for wood structures, but costs between $30 to $60 per square foot are not uncommon. This means a one-car garage might cost between $7,500 and $15,000, a two-car between $20,000 and $28,000, and a three-car garage between $30,000 and $45,000. In contrast, a two-car metal garage construction costs $8,000 to $12,000.

Money savings for metal buildings increase further when considering construction time. Wood-frame garages require an architect’s design and take more time to build. Builders must cut each piece and nail it together. In contrast, pre-engineered plans are already available for a metal building—and because they use prefabricated panels, installers can put them together in just a day or two. 

How soon are you hoping to install your metal building? Talk to one of our specialists about available dates.

Steel Structures Resist the Elements

Whether metal or wood, every building eventually succumbs to the elements. But metal resists the elements better than wood.

The steel in metal structures resists termites and other destructive pests. Termites love wood, and owners will eventually need to call in pest control and address rot and framing issues. Routine care and pest management is an ongoing cost of wood buildings. Besides periodic visits from pest control, wood buildings may need repainting and new shingles on the roof.

Although metal buildings may degrade over time, they tend to be much more durable than wood outbuildings and require less maintenance, especially those made with galvanized steel. For example, wood buildings must be sealed and either stained or painted, whereas galvanized metal buildings don't need to be painted to avoid rot, pests, and corrosion.

Likewise, most metal buildings also have metal roofs, eliminating the need for shingle repairs. They do not rot like wood, but both wood and metal roofs stand up to intense weather conditions, like rain, snow, wind, and seismic events.

When people spend entire days in the building or hope to convert it into a living space, it is imperative to consider how the building holds heat. Wood retains heat better than metal. However, most metal building providers offer insulation options that eliminate this concern.

Steel Structures Offer Fire Protection

Vehicles housed in a steel structure stay safe from thunder, rain, and lightning, and the structure protects them from fire. Wood is a highly flammable material, whereas metal is not. 

The International Building Code (IBC) recognizes the steel used in metal buildings as noncombustible, meeting fire codes for buildings across the United States. IBC also categorizes steel buildings as Type 1 (fire resistant) and Type 2 (noncombustible) buildings in fire codes. 

Outer coatings that give users a choice of color are also noncombustible. Users can choose their choice color while knowing that the coating on their metal building provides added fire protection.

Custom Looks

The reputation that metal garages only have one look, making a wood garage preferable, has changed. Today’s streel structures come in a variety of colors, facades, shapes, and sizes.

Customers work with their building manufacturer to choose a design that meets their needs and preferences, giving their two-car garage or other metal building a customized and personal feel. 

Permitting Process

Whether wood or metal, homeowners will want to pull a permit before adding the structure to their property.

Permit laws vary from state to state and municipality to municipality. It’s essential to check on the laws in your area before getting the building installed. Most local municipalities require engineered plans to secure a permit. 

With a wood building, this means involving an architect to design the garage and get the design approved. A metal building manufacturer already has engineered plans available. Engineered plans provide detailed information about the metal building: how it’s constructed, how it’s connected, where it’s welded and bolted together, and how it’s drilled into the ground.

Metal structures offer a wealth of advantages. They have superior strength; resist water, fire, and pests; are easy to install, and cost less. Insurers also see these advantages as a plus, and many will insure metal garage for a fraction of the cost of a wood garage.

CONTACT us today for your custom Metal Building Quote!