Building and Construction, Operations, V10I2

Metal Structures in a Wood Industry

(Photo: Buffalo River Truss LLC courtesy of True Metal Supply)

Many readers of this magazine craft and sell sheds and other portable structures mostly made from wood products.

However, it only takes a few minutes online to find both builders and dealers who offer metal sheds and hybrid products made of both metal and wood.

Jacob Gupton, digital marketing specialist with Northedge Steel with facilities in Indiana and North Carolina, says that metal structures offer a valuable addition to a primarily wood-focused business. 

“While wood sheds have their unique charm, metal sheds provide an alternative with distinct advantages,” he says. 

“Builders and dealers can diversify their product offerings, appealing to a broader customer base with varying preferences and needs.”

Metal structures fit into a mainly wood business through the introduction of hybrid concepts, shares Shannon Clark, marketing manager for True Metal Supply in Knoxville, Tennessee. 

She adds that increasingly popular building structures are hybrid post-frame sheds and buildings that utilize steel trusses with wood posts.

“Steel trusses work well with wood framing and actually lead to faster and easier installation,” says Clark. 

“Metal trusses are prefabricated off-site, which significantly speeds up the construction process.” 

Unlike wood trusses, which may require on-site cutting and adjustments, steel trusses are manufactured with precision, ensuring a seamless assembly process, she points out. 

“The faster construction time not only reduces labor costs but also allows one to complete a project more quickly,” Clark says. 

“Not only is the process faster, but installation of steel trusses is much easier. Metal trusses are lightweight, require minimal material, and often have purlin cups to simplify installation.”

DIFFERENCES

Metal sheds differ from wood sheds in several aspects. 

Metal structures are often appreciated for their durability, resistance to pests, and lower maintenance requirements, says Gupton. 

They also tend to have a sleek and modern aesthetic, whereas wood sheds provide more charm and customization for the “craft” look.

“Approximately 20 percent of the total cost of building is spent on framing and trusses,” he points out. 

“Despite the common assumption that steel framing would incur significantly higher costs than wood framing, the reality is that structural steel panels are only around 5-8 percent more than wood trusses. 

“The labor costs of installing a steel structure or metal building are usually reduced by up to 50 percent compared to building with wood. This is due to the metal trusses being faster and easier to install.”

Another thing to consider when using wood as a building material is that its consistency varies, Gupton points out. Because all tree species vary, lumber strengths fluctuate in their durability and lifespan.

Hybrid structures vary from wood structures because the components will come together differently, says Clark. 

“It is vital to have a comprehensive understanding of how these hybrid structures come together prior to installation,” she points out. 

“Another difference with incorporating steel trusses into wood structures is that steel is not susceptible to pests, rot, or decay. Steel trusses also have an extended lifespan and low maintenance requirements because steel doesn’t warp, twist, or split like wood.”

SIMILARITIES

Gupton says both wood and metal structures serve the fundamental purpose of providing secure and weather-resistant storage solutions. They come in various sizes and designs, catering to different customer preferences. 

“Additionally, both materials can be sourced sustainably, aligning with eco-conscious practices,” he says.

The versatility of steel truss/wood post hybrid structures allows builders to achieve a look like wood framing with the benefits of the steel trusses, Clark shares.

NEED TO KNOW 

Builders and dealers venturing into metal structures should consider factors like the durability of the chosen metal, weather resistance, and assembly complexity, shares Gupton.

“Understanding the target market’s preferences, potential regulatory requirements, and pricing dynamics is crucial,” he adds. 

“Emphasizing the benefits of metal structures, such as longevity and minimal maintenance, can be a key selling point.”

“Builders who are considering offering metal structures need to familiarize themselves with the installation process,” says Clark. 

“At True Metal Supply, we provide free, post-frame certification courses to contractors who want to offer the simplicity and durability of steel truss/wood post hybrid structures.

“Dealers considering offering metal structures should become experts on the components and how they come together, so they can educate builders on the product and installation process.”

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