Metal Building Vs. Traditional Construction: Which Is Right For You?

Published On: May 2, 20241 Comment on Metal Building Vs. Traditional Construction: Which Is Right For You?Tags: Last Updated: May 2, 20245.2 min read

Are you thinking about a new construction project on your lot? When it comes to raw materials, there are a number of options these days. You can choose conventional ones like wood, concrete, or masonry, or you can adapt to new trends like metal buildings. These have been gaining popularity due to their advantages over traditional materials and overall cost.

Let’s Compare Metal Buildings Vs. Traditional Wooden Buildings Side By Side

1. Construction Methodology

TimeLine and Efficiency

Traditional wooden buildings take more time to complete. More of the cutting and finishing work is done at the site.

They also require more labor, which increases the installation and labor costs.

Pre-engineered metal buildings (PEMBs) are designed, cut, and drilled in the factory. They only need to be assembled at the construction site, which largely cuts the installation timeline.

PEMBs also require less labor, which decreases the installation and labor costs, thus saving you money.

2. Raw Material

Durability, strength and Clear Span

Traditional constructions use materials such as concrete, masonry, wood, etc., as raw materials. The durability of wood varies with its type. No matter how high-quality timber is, it will eventually decay with time as it is an organic material.

The strength also varies with timber. No two timber planks will have the exact same strength.

There is a limit to which timber-built structures can be without columns. Columns here are necessary for stability for larger buildings, which increases the cost.

Metal structures use steel with 12 or 14-gauge frames and posts along with 22/26/29-gauge metal panels for roofs and walls. Steel is an inorganic material that remains unaffected with time.

Since metal frames and panels are constructed and designed with the same machine, they have the exact same strength throughout the building.

Metal structures up to 300 ft. wide can be designed without internal support columns. The structural load is distributed equally among the frame, side and end walls, and posts.

constructing metal building

3. Cost

Traditional buildings require extensive on-site labor. A turnkey wooden building costs about $200 sq. ft. This is for a bare-bone design without any amenities added. Annual upkeep charges are also high.

Metal garage buildings require less on-site labor. A turnkey-installed steel building costs around $24 to $45 per sq. ft. This includes shipping, a concrete base, and installation. Deep cleaning is enough once or twice a year.

4. Waste Created

There are a lot of small timber pieces and wooden shaving left over after construction work. This is because most work is done on-site.

PEMBs come with precision cuts and designs. They only need to be assembled at the site, reducing any leftover metal pieces. If you have any metal shavings, collect them and sell them to the nearest scrapyard. They will be recycled and put back to use.

Did you know that over 90% of water used in steel production is returned to its source cleaner?

Common Sizes Of Metal Garage Buildings

Type of Steel Building Size (in ft.) Height
Metal combo utility unit 20 x 50  

Generally, the height of metal garage buildings ranges from 8 – 20 ft. You can customize them for up to 40 ft.

Two car metal garage 26 x 40
Vertical metal garage 30 x 31
Three car metal garage 26 x 50
Two tone commercial building 30 x 71

5. Maintenance

Traditional wood structures require extensive aftercare. Staining, painting, pest checks, termite inspections, waterproofing coats, fireproofing coats, etc., are necessary to keep the wooden building shining.

Once installed, metal buildings don’t need much care. Steel is non-porous, so water does not seep or get absorbed. Repainting may be needed once or twice a decade. For cleaning, water and mild detergent will do the job. Any minor rust can be scraped off using sandpaper, a metal primer coat, and a final coat of metal paint.

metal residential building

6. Pests Protection

Wood is a natural home to animals, including termites, rodents, and insects. Birds like to perch on wooden trusses, rest & nest on them. This is not just unhygienic but also a nuisance to building owners. They can’t remove nests as it is unethical, and they can’t let them stay, either.

Steel is a sturdy and robust material. Termites and rodents can chew or drill into the frame and posts. Metal garage buildings do not emit toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) over time. They are safe for human occupants and keep rodents at bay.

7. Design Flexibility

Traditional structures offer classic aesthetics with the richness and warmth of wood and brick. These may not be possible with all metal structures. But this trade-off comes at a price. The more you add custom features to timber or masonry building, the more time, labor, effort, and money you will need to pay.

Metal structures are sleek and modern. They come with a wide range of design options, including roofing styles, panels, outside sliding finishes, and colors. However, prefab steel structures may limit some design options.

Bonus: Impact On Nature

Trees store a lot of carbon. When they are cut & used, they eventually release them. Not only that, trees are living and host homes for a wide variety of species. Using them leads to deforestation and destroying habitat.

Metal, on the other hand, is mined and produced. Once production is completed, it can be used numerous times without ending up in landfills. The same can’t be said about wood. Steel, for example, is an alloy of iron and carbon. It is 100% recyclable, decreasing the impact on nature.


Traditional buildings may be popular, but they have started to face competition from steel structures. Both have their own significance in the construction world. The final choice depends on the individual buying it, their personal taste, budget, lifespan, and maintenance capability.

If you are looking to install a structure on your property that doesn’t consume much energy, time, and effort, & pays off well in the long run, we suggest you give a try to metal garage building. You can make it your own by adding several customization features offered by metal dealers. So, check out metal buildings today.

These are some common differences that you will encounter when shopping for a metal structure vs. a traditional timber structure. Understanding the details will help you make an informed decision.

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