KompareIt > Home & Garden > Construction > Steel vs Wood Framing

Compare Steel vs Wood House Framing Costs

How Much Does Framing a House Cost?

Homes have been built with wood for hundreds of years, and wood is still the most popular building material for residential construction. However, the tide is slowly beginning to shift.

Due to environmental concerns and some of the inherent problems with wood (i.e. termites), steel-framed homes are growing in popularity. Once reserved strictly for commercial building, there has been a renewed interest in residential steel framing in the last couple decades. From 2000 to 2005 alone, the percentage of homeowners using steel to build houses jumped from 8 percent to 12 percent, according to the Steel Framing Alliance.

Try Our Free Framing Quote Request Tool

Tell us some details about your needs and get connected to pre-screened companies in your area. Compare free price quotes from multiple companies and save time and money instantly! No obligations to hire or purchase ever!

Find a Framing Pro >>

However, there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to both framing options - and the costs are very different. Read on to learn a little more about each framing option to find out which best suits your needs.

Cost of Steel vs. Wood Framing

Steel framing is much more expensive than wood framing. The materials costs are higher and the labor is more expensive because most contractors are not as familiar with using steel. Plus, steel can be difficult to handle in the heat and sun.

Generally, you can expect to spend anywhere from 5 percent to 15 percent more for a steel-framed home. The range is wide because there are many variables that affect the price, including your region of the country, current steel prices, and the experience and qualifications of the contractor you choose.

The price difference can be relatively minor for a small home. If a 1,500-square-foot, wood-framed home in the Midwest is priced at $120,000, an identical home with a steel frame might sell for $126,000 to $138,000.

For a large home, the price difference is more significant. A 2,500-square-foot, wood-framed home on the East Coast might sell for $600,000, but a steel version would go for $630,000 to $690,000.

Wood Framing

Steel Framing Pros

  • Stronger - Steel is sturdier than wood and it is better able to withstand natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes or tornados. Because of this, steel-framed homes cost less to insure. They’re also more popular in disaster-prone areas.
  • Won’t rot or bend - Steel never warps or rots. You will always have straight walls, floors and rooflines, and you will never have to worry about insect damage.
  • Non-combustible - Unlike wood, steel is not combustible. Because of this, local fire and building codes in some areas require the use of steel.

Steel Framing Cons

  • More expensive - Steel is more expensive than wood, increasing the total cost of your home. Labor costs are generally higher, too, because contractors are more familiar with wood.
  • Not as efficient - Steel is more difficult to insulate and thus not as energy efficient.
  • Can rust - Like all metal, steel can rust. It should not be used where it could be exposed to standing water for long periods of time (i.e. basements in flood-prone areas). The integrity of the structure could be compromised.

Wood Framing Pros

  • Cheaper - Wood framing is less expensive, so it’s an option to consider if you’re on a tight budget. Both material and labor costs are lower.
  • More energy efficient - Wood is more energy efficient than steel. You could save $30 to $50 per month on energy bills.
  • More common - Generally, contractors are more familiar with wood framing than steel framing. You’ll have a more contractors from which to choose, further increasing the chances of getting a good price.

Wood Framing Cons

  • Not as strong - Wood-framed houses are not as sturdy. They don’t stand up as well to natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes and tornados.
  • Can rot - Over time, wood is susceptible to rotting. Pests such as carpenter ants and termites can eat away at the wood, leading to costly structural damage.
  • Combustible - Wood is a combustible material, while steel is not. In the event of a fire, a wood-framed house is more dangerous.

Author: Ashley Smith

Find Local Framing Contractors Who Will Compete for Your Business


Do You Need a Framing Pro Near You?

Answer a few short questions & get free estimates for your project from trusted companies in your area. Or simply call us at: 866-685-9586.

Get Cost Estimates >>

Search Our Site

All Home Construction Articles

Serving USA Including:

  • Birmingham, Alabama
  • Anchorage, Alaska
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Little Rock, Arkansas
  • San Francisco, California
  • Oakland, California
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Fremont, California
  • Boulder, Colorado
  • Bridgeport, Connecticut
  • Stamford, Connecticut
  • Norwalk, Connecticut
  • Dover, Delaware
  • Naples, Florida
  • Marco Island, Florida
  • Savannah, Georgia
  • Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Boise City, Idaho
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Joilet, Illinois
  • Naperville, Illinois
  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Carmel, Indiana
  • Des Moines, Iowa
  • Manhatten, Kansas
  • Louisvile, Kentucky
  • Jefferson County, Kentucky
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Metairie, Louisiana
  • Kenner, Louisiana
  • Portland, Maine
  • Biddeford, Maine
  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • Towson, Maryland
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Quincy, Massachusetts
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Bloomington, Minnesota
  • Gulfport, Mississippi
  • Biloxi, Mississippi
  • St. Louis, Missouri
  • Billings, Montana
  • Omaha, Nebraska
  • Council Bluffs, Nebraska
  • Reno, Nevada
  • Sparks, Nevada
  • Manchester, New Hampshire
  • Nashua, New Hampshire
  • Trenton, New Jersey
  • Ewing, New Jersey
  • Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • New York, New York
  • Long Island, New York
  • Jacksonville, North Carolina
  • Fargo, North Dakota
  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Elyria, Ohio
  • Mentor, Ohio
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Vancouver, Oregon
  • Hillsboro, Oregon
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Camden, Pennsylvania
  • Wilmington, Pennsylvania
  • Providence, Rhode Island
  • New Bedford, Rhode Island
  • Fall Rivers, Rhode Island
  • Columbia, South Carolina
  • Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Davidson, Tennessee
  • Murfreesboro, Tennessee
  • Franklin, Tennessee
  • Midland, Texas
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Burlington, Vermont
  • Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Tacoma, Washington
  • Bellevue, Washington
  • Charleston, West Virginia
  • Madison, Wisconsin
  • Casper, Wyoming