What Are the Pros and Cons of Wood vs. Reinforced Concrete House Frames?
Wood and reinforced concrete stand the test of time when it comes to durability. Each has its advantages and disadvantages and can provide you with a long-lasting frame for your house.
Use this guide to help you make an informed decision about house frames and how to move forward with your choice.
Pros of a wood frame
Compared to reinforced concrete, which can take a while to build properly, wood frames are quicker to set up. Wood is lighter, making it easy to carry. This is why many construction companies build a complete home in their factories, and then transfer them to the building site for the final touches.
Good thermal insulation
Yes, wood has poor thermal conductivity, but this is the reason why it allows for great thermal insulation during the winter and summer. Since this material contains air-filled cells, it remains cool on the inside during summer and warm during winter.
Wood products can be locally sourced, and there are many sources in the U.S. and Canada. It is less expensive to buy and set up compared to reinforced concrete.
Although many people believe that wood is a poor sound insulator compared to concrete, the truth is that it absorbs sound waves, preventing echoes. This is why you see many concert halls made purely from wood. The material dampens sound and creates a perfect tone within a room.
Easier to remodel
Adding new features to your house after construction can be a headache with concrete frames. With wood frames, however, you can easily make changes without spending a fortune. Wood is easier to remodel, allowing you to add things like windows and doors.
Cons of a wood frame
Biotic agents are the worst enemies of wood frames. Wood is organic, and just like any other organic materials, it offers nutrition for some animals and plants. Some insects and fungi can digest the fiber ingredients found in wood, which leaves drive lines and holes into the wood.
Worst yet, fungi may cause the wood to continuously decay, either partially or completely. Some of the biotic (and non-biotic) agents you should be worried about include:
- Powder beetles
- Carpenter ants
- Marine borers
Less resistant to moisture
Yes, most wood frames come wrapped in moisture-resistant materials. Sadly, however, this is not enough. In one way or another, moisture still finds its way in, especially when there are small openings. If this happens, the extent of damage to the wood can be extensive when compared to a concrete frame.
Environmental humidity, temperature, and age are some of the factors that can make a wood frame warp, giving the structure an ugly face. Depending on the condition the wood is exposed to, over time it warps by twisting, shrinking, or swelling. Depending upon the severity of the warping, it can cause a house to shift.
Risk of fire damage
Wood easily catches fire, and that’s why it is categorized as a combustible element. If you live in an area where fire safety is a real concern, you should consider other building materials such as reinforced concrete.
Less resilient to elements
Compared to reinforced concrete, wood is not resilient to natural elements such as tornadoes and hurricanes. Because of lightweight nature as well as strength, it cannot hold for long when exposed to strong winds. If you are looking to build a sustainable and resilient structure, then concrete is your best option.
Pros of reinforced concrete
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, homes built with concrete can expect to save 20 – 25% in cooling costs every year. The actual figure will, however, vary depending on the regional climate as well as the type and number of doors and windows.
Reinforced concrete frames are pest-proof. Once you set up your structure, you will not have to worry about treating the frames with pest-control chemicals.
Healthier indoor environment
Reinforced concrete walls do not contain organic material, meaning they will not support potentially harmful microorganisms, such as mildew and mold.
Resilience from tornadoes, hurricanes and high winds
The material is resilient and guarantees a sustainable structure, even in areas prone to harsh elements. This is because concrete undergoes a process called post tension. This is why concrete remains the most preferred material for building safe rooms in areas where hurricanes and tornadoes with winds moving at more than 250 miles per hour are experienced.
Reinforced concrete frames can withstand exposure to intense fire and high temperatures continuously without much structural damage.
Less maintenance and repair
The costs to maintain a concrete frame are fairly low. Unlike wood, they are not susceptible to deterioration or rot. Moreover, the steel used to reinforce the concrete is protected from corrosion or rust.
Cons of reinforced concrete
High initial cost
Building a house using reinforced concrete can get costly. If you wish to add some features or remodel your house in the future, the cost will be higher.
Potential for cracking
Creep and shrinkage in hardened or fresh concrete may cause cracks in your home. This is why it is essential to work with a highly qualified professional to ensure that all concrete work is done properly.
For more information
These two choices have their pros and cons, but you do not have to make the decision alone. Contact Razorback Concrete at (870) 455-0700 to learn why a concrete frame might be your best option.