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Wood Frame Vs Steel Frame: Which One Should You Use for a Tiny House?

One of the most crucial decisions when building your tiny house is selecting the type of frame to use. Two popular options are wood frames and steel frames, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Framing, in construction, involves assembling materials to provide structure and support. Typically, these materials are either wood or steel. Choosing between them can be challenging, as each material has unique properties that impact the final result.

Here, we’ll compare wood frames and steel frames for tiny houses, outlining the pros and cons of each. Whether you’re a professional builder or a DIY enthusiast, this guide can assist you in deciding which material to use for your tiny house.

Why Is It Essential to Choose the Right Frame?

You might be wondering why it is important to choose the right frame. With the right frame, you can ensure the structural integrity of your house. Aside from durability, it can also impact its aesthetic appeal. Furthermore, various types of frames are available in the market now, and deciding which one matches your needs can also affect the cost.

Additionally, you should consider that selecting the right frame can affect the weight of your tiny house, the ease of construction, as well as the method of transporting or moving it. By choosing the right frame, you can guarantee that the tiny house will be functional and safe, satisfying your specific needs and preferences.

Wood Frame Vs. Steel Frame

When deciding between wood frames and steel frames, consider that steel frames are more durable compared to wooden frames. With their toughness and durability, they are more suitable for locations that frequently experience harsh climates.

Also, when comparing wood frames and steel frames, it seems that steel frames will stand out since they can withstand the impact of wear and tear compared to wood. Steel is free from termites and is mold-resistant. Moreover, steel is recyclable, hence, you will be able to help the environment. However, this environmentally friendly frame is a bit more expensive compared to wooden frames. Additionally, they are much heavier, and extra care is required.

On the other hand, wood frame is widely available and more affordable too. There are a lot of customizations that you can do with wooden frames. Likewise, they can make your house look very aesthetically appealing compared to steel frames.

What are the Pros and Cons of Steel Frames?

Steel frames are durable, strong, low maintenance, recyclable, and can resist fire, mold, and termites. However, steel frames are heavy, expensive, require expertise and special tools, and are less energy-efficient. Despite the larger upfront cost, investing in this material can be worthwhile in the long run as it requires less maintenance and repairs compared to wood frames.

What are the Pros and Cons of Wood Frames?

If you prefer a lightweight and affordable option, then a wood frame is suitable. Additionally, wood frames are easy to work with and act as natural insulators. However, wood frames are not ideal for harsh environments, are less stable, flammable, and vulnerable to mold, termites, and rot.

One major advantage of wood frames is that most builders and contractors are already familiar with them. While traditionally wood has been a cheaper material compared to steel, there has recently been a significant surge in its pricing, surpassing even the pricing of steel.

Metal Frame vs. Wood Frame

Although steel falls under the metal category, there are various types of metals that can be used as frames when building a house. One of the best features of metal frames is the structural integrity that they provide, ensuring that they are long-lasting compared to wood frames.

When making a steel frame vs. wood frame comparison for your house, it is vital to consider your needs. What are you looking to get from your house? If durability is a priority, then opt for metal. On the other hand, if you are seeking more customization options, then a wood frame would be a better option.

What Metals Should Not Be Used as Frame?

When looking for a solid frame and foundation, the preferred choice would be metals. Nevertheless, it is important to consider that not all types of metals can be used for building frames. The following types of metals should not be used as a frame for your house:

  • Mercury: This is a toxic metal; therefore, it should never be used as a building material. Mercury cannot be used as a building material under any circumstances since it stays in its liquid form at room temperature.
  • Lead: Although this is a rigid material, it is also toxic, making it hazardous when inhaled or ingested. Obviously, you wouldn’t want to be surrounded by lead in your own home. This is the last thing you want to do.
  • Aluminum: Undeniably, this metal is a popular material for building the frame of your modern shed. Aluminum offers superior structural integrity. But keep in mind that if you use aluminum for building frames, it could be disastrous in areas with high wind. Consequently, it is also more expensive, making it less accessible.

What Types of Wood Should Never Be Used?

Just like metals, there are also specific types of wood that should never be used in building frames. The following are some examples of these types of wooden materials:

  • Softwoods: Although cedar, pine, and other softwoods can be used for building frames, take note that they have lower structural integrity, and could wear out quickly with time.
  • Treated Wood: Just as the name says, this material is treated with various chemicals and harmful substances. That is why it could pose a risk to your health once it is inhaled or ingested. These chemicals are incorporated into the wood to preserve its quality.
  • Plywood: This type of wood is composed of various layers of wood veneer. Unfortunately, they are not suitable for building frames since they do not have a sufficient amount of strength.

Wood Frame vs. Steel Frame – Which One to Choose?

The inevitable question remains: steel frame or wood frame? Which one should you choose? The decision you make will greatly depend on your needs and the objectives you want to achieve.

If you prioritize structural integrity and are less concerned about aesthetic appeal and customization, then you should opt for a steel frame. On the other hand, if you intend to install prefab shed kits, it is preferable to use a wooden frame because it looks more appealing and offers a wider variety to choose from.


We hope that this guide has helped you in deciding which frame is better for your tiny home. Whether you choose a wood frame or a steel frame, be sure to do some research first.

Consider browsing through different tiny homes and shed houses to get some ideas and discover what type of frame works best for you. Ensure that it matches the design you want to implement. Also, try to avoid the specific materials mentioned above that are considered inappropriate for building frames. Remember that your health matters.

M-1 Framing Subs Inc is a general building contractor located in Southern California. We specialize in wood framing, metal framing, and steel framing. If you are looking for a builder, you can email us at or call us at 562.362.6074.


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