5 Advantages of steel over wood

5 Advantages of steel over wood
  1. Strength
  2. Durability
  3. Fire-resistance
  4. Protection against moisture
  5. Recyclability


Strength - Steel has a better strength-to-weight ratio compared to wood. This means that fewer quantities of steel components are needed to construct the same building framework at the same strength, for example, unlike wood.


Durability - Due to steel having a much higher yield strength and better properties, it’s also more durable compared to timber. Steel structures can last up to several decades, depending on how often they’re maintained. While wood may also last for years, they lose much of the durability especially when they have to undergo post-processing. For steel, galvanization is a one-time process, unlike in the case of wood, wherein staining techniques have to be done every two to three years. This material is capable of lasting for many decades.


Fire Resistant - Timber is not a great choice for buildings that require a fire-resistant material due to the quick rate that the material can burn. This is mainly due to the cellulose content of wood. Under extreme heat or fires, the cellulose will start to decompose and emit gaseous substances. Once they react with the different gasses in the atmosphere, the oxygen in the fire will speed up the rate of combustion and burning.

Alternatively, steel is highly-fire resistant, apart from being a non-combustible material. Combined with other non-combustible building materials like stone or concrete, a steel structure is much safer in case of fire emergencies.


Protection against moisture—Without any protection, both materials are susceptible to damage that can be caused by moisture, but for steel, this depends on its composition. Most steel types are able to withstand the effects of moisture. Steel is not a porous material, making it suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications.

Unlike steel, timber is highly-porous. When left untreated, the absorption of water can cause its fibres to disintegrate and become rotten over time. The material also has a tendency to expand under high humidity, which can create deformations in its appearance.


Recyclability - It may be difficult to recycle timber once most of the material’s portions have already rotten. Although it may still be possible to repair, it’s not a practical and cost-effective option. The work can be time-consuming because you would have to cut or chop off the rotten portions and fill up the crevices using a wood filler.

Another advantage of steel is that it is highly recyclable. Scrap steel can be reprocessed and refined in a manufacturing plant and use the resulting ingots or billets in order to produce steel products. The Environmental Protection Agency has even reported that in 2019, more than 70% of steel cans were recycled and repurposed into new products. In the entire recycling process, the qualities of steel remain and will not get affected.

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