On the surface, steel frame garden rooms differ from traditional garden rooms in just one way, the primary building material used to construct the frame. Traditional garden rooms primarily use wood, whereas steel frame garden rooms, as the name suggests, use steel. However, this one difference is so important that it impacts many different avenues of construction, all of which are worth exploring. This difference in material can change costs, aesthetics, structural integrity, and much more.
Garden rooms are a substantial investment and as such it is important to explore all the different options open to you as a customer.
Steel Framework Garden Rooms versus Wooden Garden Rooms
Advantages of Steel Frames
- Steel Frames are Cheaper to maintain over time
A big advantage in opting for a steel frame comes from long-term financial savings. Although the initial cost of wood is cheaper than steel, over time wood as a material deteriorates much quicker than Steel and as such requires more maintenance costing garden room owners much more money in the long run.
It is no secret that steel is not a perfect material either. It can be susceptible to rust when placed in consistently moist conditions and not protected properly. Regardless, it remains a substantially more resilient material than wood.
Even with proper waterproofing, which does increase its lifespan, wood remains vulnerable to rotting under unfavourable weather conditions, such as rain and snow. Furthermore, wood is susceptible to pest invasions which are unique to wood and are practically a non-issue for Steel. These pest invasions create not only financial burdens, but also a potentially unsafe environment, which brings us to the next advantage of steel frames.
- Steel Frames Improve on Structural Integrity
Although wood is a strong and sturdy building material that can bear heavy loads, steel is stronger, sturdier, can bear much heavier loads, and is much more resistant to the effects of weather and pests, as mentioned earlier. The boost to structural integrity will improve the safety of the garden room and offer you peace of mind.
A big complaint that usually accompanies steel buildings is their need for concrete bases. This drives up installation costs and may create a future cost on the homeowner should you decide to sell your home, since you may either have to remove the garden room along with the concrete, or sell the home at a cheaper price if buyers do not want the garden room. However, the great news is that some firms offer concrete-free steel framework installations. This eliminates one of the biggest potential complaints that come with steel frame garden rooms.
Improved structural integrity not only ensures a safer garden room, it also gives you more freedom when it comes to room designs. Thanks to the improved structural integrity, you are able to construct much wider open spaces in your garden room with steel frames than you could with wooden frames. Having wide open spaces in a garden room constructed on a wooden frame would very likely require the placement of support beams around the room, which contradicts the idea of an open space. Steel frames can offer much wider, truly open spaces.
- Steel Frames are more environmentally conscious
Steel is 100% recyclable whereas wood is much less recyclable. In addition to this, the process of preparing and shaping wooden frame pieces produces a significant amount of wood shavings that often go uncollected and are ultimately wasted. Steel frame production is more efficient, ensuring much less loss of material.
Recyclability, of course, does not necessarily impact the garden room itself. However, its environmental impacts could be relevant to you as a consumer.
Disadvantages of Steel Frames
- Steel frames lack natural aesthetics
This is a subjective point, but many homeowners dislike the aesthetic of steel buildings and much prefer wood, especially considering that garden rooms are obviously located within a garden, where wooden structures fit in seamlessly and where steel structures can be somewhat off-putting.
Of course, steel frames can be surrounded by more aesthetically pleasing materials, such as wood. However, this will only increase the building complexity of the garden room and drive initial and maintenance costs further up. Builders will often recommend sticking with one material.
- Steel frames lack customisability
Wood is a vastly more customisable material in shape and design than steel, also many other metal alloys for that matter. This enables garden room owners to be infinitely more creative with their building designs. Not only can wood be more customisable, but you are also much more likely to find individuals and/or building firms willing to work with wood to construct specifically designed pieces than with steel.
Additionally, wood is much easier to work with at home than steel is, mainly because steel would very likely be shaped off-site and delivered to your garden, whereas wood can be cut and shaped at home or on-site using widely accessible tools and hardware. This can potentially reduce costs for you, should you be willing to do the work yourself in addition to providing a potentially more enjoyable and satisfying experience.
Steel is a much weaker insulator than Wood
This is a strong advantage that wood holds over steel as a building material. Steel is an excellent temperature conductor and does a rather poor job at insulating. Wood, while also a conductor, is far less conductive and does a superbly better job at insulating temperatures. This extra insulation translates into a better separation of internal and external temperatures. Meaning that the weather outside would affect the temperature inside a traditional wooden frame garden room much less than it would a steel frame garden room. What this also means is that inside wood frame garden rooms, temperatures remain more constant.
All this ultimately leads to increased energy efficiency. Heating or cooling units inside wood frame garden rooms will not have to work as hard as climate control units inside steel frame garden rooms. This added energy efficiency equates to a decrease in electrical usage and subsequently more money in your pocket.
Insulation is added to the garden room frame regardless of material used, however you get an added benefit to insulation from wood frames.
It is evident that both wood and steel frames have their advantages and disadvantages when it comes to building garden rooms. If you are interested in cost-effectiveness and/or safety, you may favour steel frame garden rooms. Whereas wood frame garden rooms favour creativity and aesthetics. Whichever material used for building the frame, one thing is sure, a garden room will be a great addition to any household.