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Steel Frames vs. Wood Frames: Pros, Cons, & Shipping Containers

Commercial Construction
2 minute read
Feb 10, 2021
Steel Frames vs. Wood Frames: Pros, Cons, & Shipping Containers

Steel frames vs. woods frames – which option is better for your project? To answer this question, we must first look at the pros and cons of steel framing and wood framing. Here at Falcon, we modify steel shipping containers into structures for working, living, and storage, so we’ve come to understand that there is a time and place for steel, wood, and shipping container construction. Let’s take a closer look at each option.

Steel vs. Wood Framing

Steel Framing


Steel framing is an alternative to wood framing that comes with many of its own benefits. Although it is less common for traditional construction jobs, it can often be an ideal choice for many projects and may even be cheaper than wood framing in some cases.


  • Stronger than wood – more structurally sound in storms
  • Lighter than wood frames
  • Non-combustible
  • More resistant to water damage than wood framing – doesn’t expand or warp the same way wood does
  • Less likely to attract fungus


Wood Framing


Wood framing is the traditional construction choice. The majority of construction today utilizes wood framing to create a variety of buildings, so many benefits come attached to the familiarity of wood framing.

When we compare wood framing to steel construction, certain characteristics stand out more than others, such as the fact that wood framing is heavier than steel framing. Or that wood framing is more combustible than steel. Although, as the traditional choice for construction, many builders are familiar with wood framing and many owners understand what to expect from wood construction.


  • Natural thermal insulator – wood more easily impedes thermal energy and acts as a heat barrier, unlike steel
  • Easier to find experienced contractors, architects, and other construction contributors who are familiar with using wood framing


  • Potential to rot
  • Potential to attract insects
  • Combustible

Using Shipping Containers in Construction


It’s become increasingly popular to create container-based buildings by stacking and joining shipping containers. Builders are utilizing the shipping container itself as part of the building’s framing. Shipping container construction is not the same as steel framing, but because containers are made from corten steel, they have a lot of the same benefits.

One of the greatest benefits of building with shipping containers is the simple, building block-style of construction. Easily stack containers to create larger structures. Simply lift the pre-modified units – manufactured offsite – by a crane and place the units together as needed. Utilizing shipping containers often helps to shorten construction schedules and keep projects within budget.

Steel vs. Wood Framing Within Modified Shipping Containers


Project managers that use shipping containers as the structural bones of a building also need to make a choice about the internal framing of each modified shipping container. Once the choice is made, manufacturers can properly modify each container offsite, adding either wood or steel framing prior to insulation.

The choice between wood vs. steel framing inside a shipping container depends on the priorities of the project. If the owners wish to minimize the chances of combustion, steel framing within a container is likely the best solution. If the owners require a structure that maximizes insulation, wood framing may be the best option. It’s important to discuss your project requirements with your container manufacturer so they can advise you as needed.


Keep in mind that even though shipping containers easily stack together to create larger structures, the established container sizes can limit design options. It is incredibility important to maintain the structural integrity of the containers, meaning that the dimensions and structural elements of the containers should be respected when designing a container-based structure. It is important to work with individuals and organizations that are familiar with shipping container construction to ensure the building remains structurally safe.

If you’d like to learn more about the container floor plans Falcon Structures offers, download our free catalogs here. Subscribe below to receive our weekly blog in your inbox and learn more about the possibilities of modified shipping containers.

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