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HomeBarndominiumSteel or Wood? Choosing the Right Materials for Your Barndominium

Steel or Wood? Choosing the Right Materials for Your Barndominium

Before you dive into the construction of a home, it’s essential to decide on the material you’ll use for the build. Many modern homes, including barndominiums, utilize stick framing. Though barndominiums feature metal exteriors and roofs, their core framework is primarily made of wood. However, steel stands as a viable alternative. Both materials come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Read on to deepen your understanding of these options, ensuring a well-informed start to your construction journey.

Building a Barndo

In modern housing discussions, barndominiums have swiftly moved from being a quirky alternative to a dominant contender. While the name “barndominium” might sound unfamiliar to some, the intrigue these special buildings inspire is palpable. Their unique design and deviation from the typical home structure have captured many hearts.

What makes barndominiums so captivating isn’t just their distinct look but also their expansive and flexible layout. They’re renowned for their multifunctional rooms, towering ceilings, lofted spaces, and the signature wraparound porches. Their charm is in their modularity; they can easily be tailored, augmented with fresh concepts, or stripped of specific elements to suit one’s taste.

Companies like BuildMax present barndominium kits, ensuring you have the essential framing for your dream barndo’s foundation. Available in both wood and steel variants, these kits let you decide which material aligns with your vision. To guide your choice, let’s delve into the advantages and disadvantages of each material.

barndominium being built

Understanding Steel in Barndos

When the word ‘barndominium’ comes to mind, many envision a structure made of steel. While that isn’t the standard, an increasing number of individuals are opting for steel-based construction. By weighing the advantages and disadvantages, you can determine if steel aligns with your barndominium construction goals or if you should explore other alternatives.

Benefits of Steel Barndominiums

  1. Longevity: One of steel’s most significant benefits is its longevity. It can stand strong for years with minimal upkeep, unaffected by pests, termites, or decay – issues often seen with wooden structures. 
  2. Fire Safety: In the face of a blaze, steel’s non-combustibility sets it apart. It can endure higher temperatures longer than many other materials before weakening. But remember, at extreme temperatures, even steel can begin to soften.
  3. Resilience Against Elements: Tailored to resist high winds and other potential natural hazards, steel emerges as a top pick for those living in disaster-prone regions. While no material can offer total protection, steel stands firmer than traditional wooden structures in many scenarios.
  4. Quick Assembly: If time is of the essence, steel structures, especially those derived from pre-engineered kits, can be a boon. These ready-to-assemble kits often surpass conventional constructions in swift installation.
  5. Eco-Friendliness: Championing sustainability, steel boasts of a cycle where it’s often sourced from recycled materials and can be repurposed again once its primary use concludes. This circular lifecycle underscores steel’s reduced environmental footprint.
  6. Long-Term Savings: Despite a higher initial cost, steel proves to be economical in the long run. Its low maintenance nature, devoid of typical issues like pest infestations that wood faces, translates into monetary savings over time.

barndominium being built

Drawbacks of Opting for Steel

  1. Upfront Expenditure: Steel’s initial investment can be steep, often surpassing traditional wood-based construction. For those with a tight budget, this might sway the decision towards more cost-effective materials unless they’re open to compromising on size.
  2. Heat Transfer: Without effective insulation, steel can rapidly heat up, making interiors uncomfortably hot during the warmer months.

In summary, while steel offers a plethora of advantages for constructing a barndominium, its initial cost can be a deterrent for many. The decision ultimately rests in your hands, based on a balance between cost and the long-term benefits on offer.

Understanding Stick Builds

Stick frame construction is the predominant method used for erecting houses. The vast majority of conventional homes rely on lumber, especially stick, for their structure. While post frame is another building technique utilizing lumber, it’s not as widespread. In this discussion on the advantages and drawbacks, our focus is on stick frame houses.

Advantages of Stick Frame Barndos

  1. Design Adaptability: Stick builds offer ease in modifying designs during the building phase. If tweaks to the exterior frame are needed, wood simplifies the process, unlike steel which can be challenging to adjust.
  2. Natural Insulation: Wood provides natural insulation, translating into energy savings and reduced utility bills.
  3. Sustainability: When sourced from well-managed forests and ethical logging practices, wood becomes an environmentally friendly choice.
  4. Affordability: As of now, constructing a stick home is more pocket-friendly compared to steel-based structures. While post frame homes are also cost-effective relative to steel, they tend to be pricier than traditional stick builds.
  5. Easy Availability of Expertise: Engaging a contractor for stick frame construction is relatively easy, given the widespread knowledge and experience in wood-based building. On the contrary, fewer builders specialize in steel home constructions.

barndominium being built

Drawbacks of Stick Frame Houses

  1. Maintenance: Stick-built homes demand consistent care to combat challenges like rot, pest infestation, and mold. Over time, these maintenance needs, especially for expansive homes, can weigh heavy on the pocket.
  2. Structural Vulnerabilities: Elements like termites, rot, and mold can jeopardize the structural integrity of wood-based homes.
  3. Fire Safety: Being a combustible material, wood poses a higher fire risk compared to non-flammable alternatives like steel.

To sum it up, while wood-based homes offer several appealing advantages, they come with inherent challenges that demand consideration. While the initial cost of stick builds may be attractive, one needs to evaluate the long-term implications and decide if the initial savings justify potential risks.

barndominium being built

Concluding Thoughts

In the end, there isn’t a definitive “best” choice when determining the material for your construction. Each offers a unique blend of pros and cons that demand thorough contemplation. Assessing the expenses, advantages, and potential challenges will guide you towards a well-informed decision, bringing you closer to your ideal barndominium.

Brianna Euler
Brianna Euler
From a young age, Brianna has had an interest in reading, writing, and nature. When she isn't researching or writing for her own enjoyment, she enjoys hiking, reading, and spending time with her two dogs.
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We are super excited with results and service. Tony offered really helpful suggestions. Our dream build was pretty complicated but he and his designer were able to meet our needs.

James B

Recent Client