Metal Building vs Wood Frame Cost: Short & Long Term Considerations

A cost-effective metal building under construction with a blue sky.

When you need a new commercial or agricultural building, you may consider various building materials, making you compare metal building vs wood frame cost. 

You want versatility, durability, and reliability without emptying your wallet. While a metal building kit may seem pricey at first glance, digging deeper is essential.

When solely focusing on the initial cost, wood buildings are cheaper. However, it’s vital to understand that metal buildings often offer better value over the long term. They can save you both time and money in the long run.

Metal buildings can provide a cost-effective and durable solution when compared to wood frames. Let’s look at the short and long-term benefits before choosing.

Facts About Wood Buildings & Steel Buildings

Before delving into the merits of steel buildings over their wooden counterparts, let’s examine some illuminating statistics that provide valuable insights into this subject:

Residential Preference: Wood framing remains the top choice for residential construction. This preference can be attributed to a reluctance to embrace new building methods.

Versatility of Steel: In contrast, steel framing is favored for a wide range of construction types beyond residential projects.

Commercial Dominance: In the U.S. commercial market, steel framing holds a significant market share, accounting for nearly 55% of all new construction projects.

Commercial Overwhelming Majority: Approximately 95% of all commercial buildings within the United States are constructed using steel framing as their primary building material.

Now that we’ve laid out these compelling statistics let’s compare the advantages of wood buildings versus steel buildings. 

Metal Building vs Wood Frame Cost: Short-Term Cost Considerations

When deciding between a metal building and a wood frame, it’s essential to examine short-term cost factors. These considerations can significantly impact your project’s budget. Let’s break down the key aspects:


Metal materials are readily available, making the procurement process efficient and often cost-effective. You won’t encounter delays due to material shortages. 

On the other hand, wood availability can vary depending on location and demand. Shortages or fluctuations in wood prices may lead to unexpected cost increases.

Use per Square Foot

Metal structures offer larger clear spans, requiring fewer columns or support structures. This maximizes usable space and reduces construction costs per square foot. However, wood frames may need more columns or supports, reducing usable space and potentially increasing construction costs.

Labor Cost Reduction

Metal building kits are designed for easy assembly, reducing the need for skilled labor and shortening construction timelines. Wood framing, however, often requires more labor-intensive construction methods, leading to higher labor costs.


Metal structures are often considered lower risk by insurers due to their fire resistance and durability. This can result in lower insurance premiums, saving you money in the short term. On the other hand, wooden structures may carry higher insurance costs, especially in areas prone to fire or other natural disasters.

In the short term, metal buildings offer advantages in terms of availability, efficient use of space, labor cost savings, and lower insurance expenses. 

These factors can contribute to immediate cost savings compared to wood frame constructions. However, it’s crucial to consider long-term cost factors as well to make an informed decision for your specific project.

Metal Building vs Wood Frame Cost: Long-Term Cost Considerations

When evaluating the long-term cost implications of choosing between a metal building and a wood frame, looking beyond the initial investment is crucial. Here are key factors to consider for the long run:

Durability and Lifespan

Steel structures have a longer lifespan compared to wood. They can withstand rot, moisture damage, mold, termite infestation, and fire. This durability ensures that your investment remains intact for many years, reducing the need for costly replacements.

Wooden buildings are also more susceptible to environmental factors, pests, and fire, leading to higher maintenance costs and potential reconstruction expenses.

Flexibility and Modifications

Steel structures offer greater flexibility for modifications or repurposing as needs change. Making alterations to a steel building is generally easier and less disruptive than with wood buildings, reducing long-term costs associated with renovations.

Adapting wooden buildings to new purposes can be more challenging and costly due to structural limitations.

Real-Life Conditions

Steel remains strong and stable in extreme weather conditions and temperature fluctuations, making it a reliable choice for areas with harsh climates.

On the other hand, wood can weaken and deteriorate more rapidly when exposed to extreme conditions, necessitating frequent repairs and replacements.

Quality and Maintenance

The consistency in the quality of steel minimizes the risk of unexpected repair costs in the mid to long term. Steel structures require minimal maintenance, saving you time and money over the building’s life span.

However, varying wood qualities can lead to significant repair and maintenance expenses, making it essential to invest in high-quality wood and ongoing care.


The choice between metal and wood building materials hinges on more than just upfront costs. While wood may seem budget-friendly initially, the ongoing expenses associated with maintenance can significantly outweigh the initial savings. 

In contrast, metal buildings, with their durability, adaptability, and reduced maintenance needs, offer a compelling long-term cost advantage. When evaluating your construction options, it becomes clear that metal is the wiser investment choice.

Bargain Metal Buildings stands as a reputable provider of affordable and dependable prefab metal buildings, offering a range of designs with uncompromised steel craftsmanship. Our dedicated customer service team is ready to assist you in selecting the perfect solution for your needs. Contact us today to embark on your metal-building journey.

Recent Posts