Why Concrete Trumps Wood as the Better Building Material

Posted on June 20, 2019

From high rise buildings to suburban homes, concrete is the number one building material of choice for architects and designers around the world.

Although wood is a close substitute, concrete has numerous benefits that make it the better option for most construction projects.

Here are some reasons why concrete trumps wood as a building material.

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Contemporary designs now see more combinations of concrete and wood

High Strength

One of the top qualities of concrete is its pliability and high strength. Concrete is hard when dry, yet flexible when wet; enough to be molded into any shape. This lends it the dimensional stability needed for both, outdoor structures and indoor installations, and allows for creative expression.

Concrete tends also becomes stronger over time, further fortifying the structure. In comparison, wood is less dense and thus, less durable.

Another advantage of concrete is that it can be manipulated to any desired strength and casted on site, thereby making it an economical choice.

Additionally, it can withstand winds of up to 250 miles an hour. Concrete houses also have deeper foundations which makes it suitable for zones vulnerable to tornadoes and hurricanes.

Durable

Although wood is a cheaper alternative to concrete, it ages faster and has higher maintenance and repair costs. Hence, while wood deteriorates quickly, especially if it is not maintained regularly, concrete has a lifespan of two to three times more than that of most other building materials.

Additionally, termites thrive in wooden structures and wooden frame houses, and wood tends to suffer from pestilence and moisture problems. As an organic compound, wood also attracts microorganisms like mold and mildew, which has an adverse impact on the indoor environment in enclosed spaces. Concrete, on the other hand, is both termite and mold growth resistant, resulting in reduced degradation over time.

Wooden structures are also not resistant to water damage; even the slightest downpour can result in leakages from small openings. Concrete, in comparison, is more resistant to moisture, and soaks up water which results in less damage to the overall structure. Similarly, concrete is fire retardant unlike wood, which adds to the blaze.

Overall, concrete’s resistant properties result in a lower cost of maintenance over the lifespan of the structure.

Soundproofing

Wooden structures have a bad reputation of being noisy, as they do not insulate noise as well as concrete due to their difference in density.

Certain cracks or leaks in the structure make passages for noise to travel through, which is a nuisance for someone living on a busy street.

Furthermore, as the climate changes, wood also contracts and expands, which can lead to doors and cupboards shrinking or expanding within their frames. On the other hand, concrete offers a dense, airtight, and soundproof solution to all these problems.

Energy Efficient

Concrete homes are less susceptible to developing leaks unlike wooden frames. Wooden walls are equipped with various components like sheathing and insulation, which can form cracks and let air pass through.

Concrete’s molecular structure allows for an airtight and uninterrupted composition, with less chances of air moving through it. This keeps the heat from penetrating into structures, while keeping cool air trapped inside.

Modern concrete houses also have tighter seals and insulation ranging from foil backed batts, to polystyrene panels.

In short, concrete buildings tend to develop less cold or hot zones, while its compact structure slows down the movement of heat through walls. Concrete is thus an ideal choice for energy efficient structures, and provides cost effective heating and cooling bills throughout the year.

Cost Effective

Concrete can be produced in batches specific to project needs, which results in less wastage. In addition to its cost-effectiveness in the long run, concrete offers a substantial difference in construction and insurance costs - depending on the type of housing that it is used for.

Many studies have found concrete to be suitable for building multi-housing constructions.

Some of its benefits include:

Savings On Insurance Costs

One of the qualities of concrete is that it is non-combustible; this reduces the risk of fire hazards, the after effects of fire containment methods, and issues related to combustion.

Since concrete is a fire retardant material, insurance costs on houses constructed with concrete are lower compared to houses constructed with wood.

In fact, a study carried out across multiple US cities like Los Angeles, Orlando, Dallas, Towson, and Edgewater New Jersey revealed that owners can save on insurance costs if they opt for concrete.

The study states that savings range from 14% to 65% on commercial properties, and 22% to 72% on builder’s risk insurance where concrete is concerned. This difference is also expected to gradually increase over the next years.

Cheaper Initial Construction Costs

Qualities that make concrete a good choice for construction projects are its durability and strength.

Concrete is a cost effective choice for the construction of compartmentalized or multi-residential structures such as condominiums, apartments, and student housing.

According to a study by Walter G M Schneider III, construction projects using wood cost more than concrete. The study focused mainly on three cites Dallas, Edgewater, and Towson - and studied six different construction materials.

The results showed that initial costs associated with concrete construction materials were not only lower than wood based materials, but also light gauge steel framing construction.

Other concrete based methods were found to be 20% more of the costs associated with conventional wood framing – this can typically be covered by the contingency budget for unanticipated expenditures, which makes concrete the more efficient choice.

Concrete homes are built to last, making it a worthwhile investment for modern home owners.

The resulting structures are not only low maintenance, but also increase in value when compared with each dollar spent.

If you’re looking for more information on the different types of concrete, construction suitability, and cost effectiveness, connect with SpecifyConcrete today.