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Chris Breen

Chris Breen

Chris Breen, Principal Owner of Legacy Decks and Outdoor Living and has been serving families in Upstate South Carolina since 2005.

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Steel Framing Vs. Wood Framing: How To Choose Deck Framing

With the rising trend of composite decking, homeowners are also looking at alternative options for the frame under the decking surface. The traditionally used pressure-treated wood framing is now being compared to its steel counterpart. But how do you know which material is best for your deck? Let’s dive into the main factors to consider when choosing between wood vs. steel framing.

Durability

The longevity of your deck depends heavily on the durability of its supporting frame. With the rising popularity of composite decking, homeowners often find their frame deteriorating before the deck’s surface. This is where the value of a durable frame, like steel framing, comes into play.

Steel, known for its impressive durability, outlasts wooden frames and even composite decking. Unlike wood, steel doesn’t warp, rot or crack. While wooden frames usually last anywhere from 10 to 40 years, depending on the quality of the wood and maintenance, steel frames can easily last 25-50 years or more, completely maintenance-free.

Maintenance

Steel Framing for Deck

Maintenance is one of the first things you want to consider. With wood framing, there are additional concerns to keep in mind. For instance, it can become a destination for insects or mold, both of which can cause damage over time. Wood can also be prone to rotting, especially in wet or humid environments. As a result, it’s even more important to do regular inspections to catch any potential issues early on. 

If you discover such issues, you’ll need to deal with them promptly. This could involve anything from a simple treatment with a cleaning product to more complex procedures like hiring a pest control company. These potential problems not only demand your time but can also add extra costs to your deck maintenance budget.

Resistance To Insects

Wood is susceptible to termites, carpenter bees, and other wood-eating insects. Pressure-treated wood can help prevent this issue, but it’s not completely foolproof.

In contrast, steel is not an organic material and is impervious to insects. Like with composite decking, you won’t have to worry about termite damage or insect-related problems when you choose steel framing.

Resistance To Fire

Steel Framing for Deck Around Tree

The fire rating is an important safety consideration. Most wood types have a class C fire rating, meaning they have a moderate resistance to fire.

Steel, on the other hand, does not burn. It boasts a class-A fire rating, the highest available rating, indicating that steel offers superior fire protection.

Aesthetics

Wood, with its grainy texture and natural charm, can add a distinctive touch to your outdoor space. However, it’s worth noting that the appeal of wood framing fades more quickly over time. Within 10-15 years, discoloration and visible signs of deterioration will start to set in.

On the other hand, steel retains its color and shape, appearing just as fresh and new as the day it was installed for decades. Typically black, it offers a sleek and modern appeal that adds a high-quality touch to any deck.

Cost

Steel Framing Beneath Deck

Cost is vital when deciding between wood vs. steel framing for your deck. Generally, wood is more affordable upfront than steel. Therefore, if you are working with a restricted budget, wood could provide the opportunity to create a larger deck without stretching your budget.

However, the picture changes when looking long-term. Wood framing requires more upkeep and possible repairs, which can increase costs over time. 

In contrast, steel promises durability and low maintenance despite its higher initial cost, making it a cost-effective choice in the long run. If your deck surface wears out before the steel frame, a resurfacing job – far cheaper than a full replacement – will suffice.

Depending on the specific products and your contractor, a deck built with a steel frame can cost approximately 20-30% more than one constructed with a wooden frame.

Wood Framing Vs. Steel Framing: Conclusion

Choosing between a wood vs. steel deck involves considering many factors. Steel, with its exceptional durability and low maintenance needs, can prove to be a wise investment despite its higher initial cost. On the other hand, wood, with its lower upfront cost, may be an attractive option for those on a tighter budget or those who appreciate its natural appeal.

Live in Greenville, SC, and thinking about getting a new deck? At Legacy Decks, our expert team will guide you through choosing the right framing for your project, whether it’s steel or wood. Request a free estimate today or call (864) 531-5187.