Comparison of Wood and Metal for Agricultural and Farm Buildings

Designing a new agricultural building can be a long process. There are many factors to consider, one of which is which material to use. Once you’ve got planning permission, thought about the location and identified the purpose of the new building, you need to think about what materials to use when constructing it.

The two most popular options are wood and steel. Both these materials offer a good solution for agricultural buildings and both offer specific advantages.


Wood provides a more flexible solution for an agricultural building frame. Wood is easier to manipulate than steel so this lends itself for bespoke buildings that need to fit a specific location/area.

As more and more farmers are looking for buildings to suit specific needs, having the ability to tailor make a farm building is a big advantage. Steel is very strong but as a result, harder to use in bespoke designs.

If design and layout are important to you, then wooden framed buildings are likely to provide you with the most cost-effective and easy to install option. Wood frames means that you can utilize more interesting architecture, curves, lines and layouts in the building. These factors aren’t simply just for the appearance of a farm building, instead, this can provide very useful and functional buildings that are better suited and adapted to their purpose.

Steel framed buildings are likely to be a lot more traditional in appearance and provide a basic rectangular shape with little opportunity to change this shape.



The installation process for both wood and steel will depend on the specific criteria of the proposed construction. Wood is generally easier to use and work with, so is often easier to install. Steel framed buildings will require experts and heavy machinery on site and this can take longer to fully install.

Wood is likely to be the cheaper option. This relates to both the actual material and the labour costs involved. Wood can also be locally sourced so can carry a much lower carbon footprint than steel.

Contractors are also usually a lot more familiar with wood over steel. If you want a competitive price for labour, then wood is likely to be something every contractor is happy to work with. Steel is likely to require more specialists on site, which may be harder to find at competitive prices.


Both wood and steel framed buildings offer very high durability and strength. Steel is a very strong material that is likely to last the test of time. Hardwood timber structures are also strong enough for farm buildings and can support large building structures.

Wood is more vulnerable to things like rot and decay than steel. Although this can easily be managed, it is something to consider if you want a frame that requires very little maintenance. Steel can rust though so it does need some attention.


The purpose of the building is likely to have a significant impact on the most suitable material for it. Wood is usually a preferred material for a building that will home animals and livestock.

Wood is a better insulator and helps regulate humidity. This can be very useful in keeping animal living conditions to a high standard. Wood buildings are also likely to have less condensation than steel buildings. Steel will mean water droplets can drip down onto animals. The insulating properties of wood also mean that they reduce noise from within the building. This can be useful if noise complaints are an issue.

The fact wood is better at insulating the building will also mean it can be a much more cost effective solution. Steel buildings are likely to require insulation or other heat preserving methods if you’re keeping livestock in it.


Both wood and steel provide useful solutions for agricultural buildings. The preferred material will be determined on what exactly you want from your farm building. Wood lends itself much better for bespoke designs, keeping livestock, having flexibility, environmentally friendly and being easier to install. Steel, on the other hand, provides a very durable and strong material that requires less maintenance.

Before installing a new farm building, talk to one of our experts who can ensure you get the most out of a new build.

December 2nd, 2016|