Australasia's home for timber news and information

Timber framing research shows preference of wood over steel

Recent research from the Timber Framing Collective shows that people continue to choose timber framing over steel due to its low cost, fast assembly, flexibility and ease of renovation. Source: Timberbiz

But it’s the incredible environmental benefits that are really resonating in a world that is increasingly looking to reduce its impact.

The research was collected through anonymous surveys among consumers and builders from December 2022 to January 2023. Findings were compared to research conducted in 2021. The sample size included 220 consumers who have built their home in past 2 years or plan to build in next 18 months, as well as 182 carpenters/builders.

The research shows that steel is beginning to lose its shine among people building new homes, with an 11% decrease over the last two years in consumers who rate steel as superior.

More consumers are being inspired by timber framing’s environmental and emotive proof points, such as:

  • Australia’s plantation forestry is 100% sustainable as they are replanted after harvest
  • Each year Australian Forest Industries replant more than 70 million trees
  • Plantation trees are necessary to fight climate change and move towards net-zero by 2050
  • Choosing timber is helping build a better world.

The research also highlights that 48% of builders value green credentials as one of the most important factors in choice of materials. That’s an increase of 27% since 2021. And 72% feel positive about timber framing’s environmental impact, an increase of 21% since 2021. More and more builders are aligning with timber framing’s key environmental messages — that it’s renewable, responsibly sourced and removes greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. This is a space where steel simply cannot compete.

Whilst the steel framing industry is working to reduce its impact (which is great news for our planet), there’s a long way to go and timber framing will continue to come out on top for the foreseeable future.

Right now, green steel is simply a concept. The intent is that it will be produced using low-carbon energy sources, which will significantly reduce carbon emissions compared to traditional steel production. It can also be made from recycled scrap metal, further reducing waste and environmental impact. However, the production of green steel still requires significant amounts of energy and resources, which releases greenhouse gases into the air.

On the other hand, timber is a renewable resource that is grown and harvested sustainably with careful management.  Trees grow for around 30 years before they are harvested, allowing them to capture large amounts of carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.  This carbon is locked up and stored for the life of the timber.  And the timber in framing is actually carbon positive, meaning the entire production process removes more carbon dioxide than it emits.