News

Should you choose a Timber Frame or a Steel Frame when building larger structures.

Although it comes down to personal preference, and there’s no definitive answer to the question of which building material is best, if timber frame or steel frame. With both timber and steel frame becoming an increasingly popular material for construction, we have decided to look at the pros and cons of each material within the UK Construction Market.

QTF Services were involved in the Construction within one of Belfast’s busiest tourist destination at the East Side Visitor Centre and provided the Timber Frame for the third floor, the construction was a combination of both Timber and Steel for the structure of the building and nature of the design. See the East Side Vistor Centre Project.

But if you are in the situation of deciding to choose a timber or steel frame for your project here are a few things to keep in mind;

Speed of construction timber frame versus steel frame

A timber frame structure used for a building is much quicker to assemble than a standard brick and mortar build, which makes it a very popular option for many homeowners, but how does this stack up against a steel framed house?

As they are assembled in a similar way to timber frames, the process of putting up a steel frame should be just as quick, but the process can become more drawn out as it takes more tools and labour to attach each element together. On top of that, timber frames can be constructed by joinery trades people and because its quick to assemble a timber frame kit once it’s on-site, less labour hours are required and can save you costs in the actual building labour.

Environmental impact & sustainability of timber frame versus steel frame

Environmental conservation is a significant factor for a lot of the population nowadays, QTF Services, provide an interesting article on the benefits timber frame have on sustainable living and the importance of environmental impact is having within the construction industry, the need for environmentally friendly materials is crucial. Timber and steel both have benefits and drawbacks when it comes to their environmental impact, so it’s important to thoroughly consider your options before making a decision.

Using a steel frame results in less deforestation than timber, which relies on both forests and the destruction of natural environments to make room for more plantations, however the other side of this argument is that as the need for timber increases, the demand for more forests also increases. This would benefit the environment in lowering CO2 levels in the air, and encourage ethical and sustainable use of forests.

Steel is thought to produce less waste than timber as steel frames are manufactured very precisely, whereas as timber is a natural product, there are some imperfections that render some of the wood unuseable. In their latest article, QTF Services who provide timber frame manufacturing throughout the UK and Ireland encourage clients that in compared to motar or block built houses the waste management of timber can save contractors and builders thousands, as the timber frames is manufactured off site to the exact size that is required on-site. See more here.

Steel, however, is a very energy intensive to create, with the production process leaving huge carbon footprints that are damaging the environment. The upside of this is that steel is 100% recyclable, so after the intensive creation process, the steel can be used and reused.

One final environmental consideration to be made is regarding the levels of thermal transfer of each material, and this is where debates usually occur. Some argue that metal structures provide better seals for windows and doors, so when paired with effective wall insulation, a metal frame would reduce heat loss from the windows and walls. However, others argue that the thermal transfer of steel is greater than timber, so a timber home would be cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, reducing the need for heating and cooling systems and saving homeowners up to 75% off their annual heating bills, See these benefits here.

Steel and Timber Frame Costs

Accurately comparing costs on a like-for-like basis when looking at timber and steel framed houses is difficult, as there are a lot of variables that could alter the final cost of production. For instance, the cut of timber, the supplier and contractor used and whether the frame is pre-constructed or built from scratch will all bear an impact in the price of a timber framed building. However, that said, in general, you can always expect a timber frame to be more affordable than a steel frame as the construction process is much more labour intensive, so tradesmen will charge more to operate around a steel structure.

To see some examples of homes built using timber frame kits in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales see QTF Services excellent new price guide page.

QTF Services have been a leading supplier of high quality timber to Northern Ireland and UK including center London for over 15 years, priding ourselves on our high quality products, friendly staff and quick delivery times. Request a Quote with QTF Homes to get a price for your timber frame property today. We manufacture timber frame kits in Northern Ireland and carefully transport these on site throughout the UK and Ireland. Visit www.qtfhomes.co.uk/new for further details.