(3.5-min read)

You’re ready to begin designing a new commercial building. While this is an immensely exciting time for your organization, you have a lot of decisions to make. One of the first build decisions is whether to utilize a wood frame or a steel frame for your commercial construction. Let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of each of these choices. 

Cost of Wood Frame vs. Steel Frame

Right out of the gate, you probably know that a wood frame for your commercial building will be significantly less expensive than a steel frame. That being said, cost needs to be weighed against value when it comes to building materials. While it is cheaper today, the maintenance associated with a wood frame can add up. Still, a durable wood frame can last quite a while if properly maintained.

Sturdiness of Wood Frame vs. a Steel Frame

When comparing a wood frame to a steel frame building for commercial construction in terms of durability, there’s likely an audible scoff heard. Yes, a steel frame does require less maintenance over the years and is much more resistant against fire, the wood frame isn’t immensely far behind. While more prone to damage from fire, insects, and climate conditions, a well-maintained wood frame can last for generations. Many buildings that have endured for centuries are made with wood frames.

Speed of Construction

If you’ve ever been on a construction site, you’re likely familiar with the snap-snap-snap of nail guns continually firing or the buzz of power drills in constant motion. At this rate, it may feel like a wood frame commercial building could be constructed in record time. Even though it is true that with the right crew, a commercial building’s wood frame can be constructed relatively quickly, there is still the potential for snags in the process. Because wood is a natural element, it can be subject to inconsistencies — either naturally from the batch of wood it came from or abnormalities due to climate. Even on the site, wood construction materials require special treatment to keep them out of the elements that steel components may not. This treatment, in addition to possible abnormalities, can slow down a construction project. Steel frames, on the other hand, are manufactured for consistency and are resistant to the elements. 

Adaptability of Steel vs. Wood Frames

As you begin to design your building, because it is a commercial facility, you may require large open sections for manufacturing or other needs. While wood is a reasonably sturdy material, it will require more support columns or load-bearing walls than steel to ensure the proper weight distribution of the building. Steel frames, on the other hand, lend themselves very well to large open spaces, such as factories, warehouses, garages, and other similar buildings. It’s for this reason that the design needs may very well dictate the need for a steel frame for your commercial construction project.  


Whether you’re still on the fence about which material to use or you’re ready to talk build times, the Oklahoma commercial construction professionals at Cowen Construction can help. Let us know what you have in mind, and we can make it a reality. 

Learn more about the commercial construction services from Cowen Construction today.