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Mon, Oct. 14

Ask the Contractor: Wood-versus-metal construction: which is best?

Metal construction is quite different from construction with wood. (

Metal construction is quite different from construction with wood. (

We are considering an owner/builder project (a building) for our lot and I want to build it out of metal and my husband wants to construct it from wood. As you can image, we are in mighty heavy discussions. My husband said to write YCCA and Ask The Contractor. — Sally and Matt, Chino Valley.

Over the years we have been the “therapist” for construction issues and I so love that our column is valued. Keep in mind no material is perfectly resistant to everything nature can throw at it and some materials are naturally more resistant to the elements than others.

Not being aware of the building use, here are our comments from YCCA and also we called our “lifeline,” licensed local contractors Outlaw Welding, and asked for input from Bob Hinesley and his son, Seth, who construct and repair anything and everything metal.

Pro and con wood vs. metal

Metal buildings are not appealing to woodpeckers and are resistant to bugs. Metal is also much more weather resistant. Metal has the potential to rust, but you won’t find any rotting like there is commonly found in wood, and with proper maintenance rusting will be minimized (i.e.: scale, primer, paint, seal-welding). Metal being the much stronger material option, also makes it much more wind resistant. Making sure weather precautions are up to snuff is very important and is commonly considered as early as the planning stages in most projects to ensure protection and permanence of the project.

Seth from Outlaw Welding said he and his father have been asked this very same question over the years, “What materials would be the best option for our upcoming project?” Sometimes the answer to the question is not so simple. Seth said, “There are many considerations that need to take place in order to determine the best route to go for each individual project.” Here are a few determining factors that might just help finalize the selection of materials for their projects depending the needs and wants of the customer.

Metal is much stronger than wood. There is no mystery that iron is much stronger than the product we reap from trees. With that being said, the first determination that needs to be made by the contractor and customer is to determine the strengths needed for their particular project.

Some important details to consider for strength are: snow load, weight capacity, wind resistance, etc. Bob Hinesley said, “The most important consideration needed to be made before starting any project is the safety of people and/or animals around, inside, above and below any structure.”

When installed correctly, metal will last much longer than wood and can last for many generations with minimal maintenance.

For example, in both wood and metal the base and footing of any project is very important and need to be addressed as so to ensure the dependability, stability and longevity of the project.

If your base is incorrectly installed the rest of the project could be at risk and potentially hazardous to boot. Positive factors when considering a metal structure are: stronger footings, longer dependability, more stability, and when built correctly, with proper water runoff, it will be much more water resistant.

Correct welding procedures and techniques performed by a licensed contractor will also insure that all metals are installed correctly.

“Another positive when using metal as your means of material is its dependability to be modified easily at any point within a project. Likewise, wood can be replaced at any time during a project at added cost to the contractor and consumer, making the bottom line tighter and tighter,” Seth said.

Metal can be easily modified for additions and reductions at minimal costs. Saving the contractor time and the consumer money.

With any project the bottom line is most often considered a top priority. Seth indicated that projects built with metal can be completed with less material while also meeting safety and structural requirements. Bob agreed, saying: “Building with metal makes the project much more cost effective in the long run, since less material means less maintenance.”

If metal buildings are for housing animals, it is very important to select the proper materials to keep them safe and secure. Metal is a much more durable material when it comes to your animals’ protection since it can keep them safe and secure and reduce their risk for self-harm and from harming others. With the proper metal selection and the proper construction, it can withstand all the wear and tear even the largest animals are capable of. Additionally, they will not eat it, many farmers and ranchers can attest to at least one of their animals having an appetite for wood.

With any project, it is important to determine the budget, the strength requirements of the building performance, materials and future maintenance needs and costs.

In the metal-versus-wood discussion, please let us know which material wins. Metal as a building product has not been around as long as wood; however, this material is gaining in popularity. Bob and Seth are seeing that metal is becoming the substitute of choice for buildings previously constructed of wood. And, Seth added, “Metal buildings are designed and erected far faster than traditional wood buildings.”

See ya’ all at the home show — May 17, 18 and 19 at the Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley. You can meet the “Outlaws” Bob and Seth Hinesley of Outlaw Welding — they will be there.

Remember to tune in to YCCA’s Hammer Time twice each weekend Saturday and Sunday at 7 a.m. on KQNA 1130AM, 99.9FM, or 95.5FM — or on the web at Listen to Sandy and Mike talk about the construction industry and meet your local community partners and contractors, and so much more.

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