Do You Build With Precast Concrete or Wood Framing?

Wood framing remains one of the most common building techniques, however, other materials can be utilized, such as precast concrete, to benefit your build project. Wood frames and precast concrete have pros and cons when you weigh them against the design of your building. While your design and construction team is responsible for providing the best options for your construction project, you can remain knowledgeable about different building methodologies.

How Structural Materials are Chosen

There are different factors your design-builder will consider when choosing the structural materials for your build project. Material choices are based on the structure's design and the project's immediate and long-term goals. Just some of the factors that play into how structural materials are chosen include:

  • The building type and design
  • Budget related to upfront costs 
  • Long-term value objectives
  • Sustainability implications

The Benefits of Wood Frame Construction

There are many benefits to utilizing wood as a framing material, which is why it is one of the most commonly used materials in the industry.


Budget-Friendly Material

Using wood to construct a building contributes to significantly lower build costs. There are several reasons why wood is a cheaper building material. First, this material requires less energy to be produced when it comes to resource extraction and manufacturing. Wood is also lighter to transport, which brings down construction costs. 


Less Specialized

Another benefit to wood being lighter and easier to work with is that this building material requires less specialized crews to erect the building. As well, the materials and tools associated with assembling the framing are less specialized.


Renewable Resource

Wood is one of the only renewable resources used to construct buildings. By utilizing renewable resources like lumber, trees can be replanted to help eliminate CO2 emissions. 


Popular Within the Industry

Despite all the different building materials available in the construction industry, including concrete and steel, wood is the most common framing material in North America. Because it is such a popular material, your build team most likely has extensive knowledge and experience working with wood; this can greatly benefit the outcome of your construction project.

The Disadvantages of Wood Frame Construction

While there are many benefits to wood as a building material that make it the most popular in North America, wood framing also has disadvantages.

Less Resistant to Moisture

One disadvantage to using wood as a framing material is that it is not entirely resistant to moisture. While wood materials can have moisture-resistant components, they are not always effective. The damage to the wood caused by moisture can be extensive and affect the structure's stability and the occupants' health. 


Over time, humidity, changing temperatures and other external factors can cause wood frames to warp. This warping causes the building to shift, and affects its structural integrity and appearance. 

Risk of Fire Damage

Unfortunately, wood is a flammable product. Therefore, if your building is being constructed in an area where fire safety is a concern, wood may not be the optimal building material. This, however, isn’t to say that every wood frame building will be significantly impacted in the event of a fire.

Less Resilient to the Elements

Wood is less resilient to natural elements such as storms and tornadoes. Because it is lightweight, wood cannot withstand strong winds when exposed for extended periods of time. 


The Benefits of Precast Concrete Construction

Precast concrete is becoming more utilized in the building industry due to its numerous benefits during the building process and beyond for the building owner. 

Quick Project Timelines

Utilizing precast concrete can speed up the progress of your build project. Precast panels don’t always need additional supports and insulation to be installed. Since the panels are already “precast” off-site, they will be ready to be assembled as soon as they arrive on the construction site. And if you have the structure completed quicker, you can have subsequent trades on site to move on to the next steps of the construction project. 

Non-Combustible Construction

Concrete is a non-combustible building material, meaning it cannot be set on fire, unlike wood. As well, unlike other building materials, it does not emit toxic fumes, produce smoke, or cause molten pieces to fall. This makes precast concrete a safer option when it comes to fire prevention. 

Lower Insurance Premiums

Precast concrete is fireproof, waterproof and rustproof. In addition, because precast concrete is a safer and more durable building material, it translates into lower insurance premiums for building owners. 

Lower Operational Costs

While precast concrete may have higher production costs, you, as the building owner, will be able to quickly save that amount on operational costs. Precast concrete buildings require far less maintenance compared to wood buildings; this is due to the sturdy nature of concrete.  

Improved Sound Transmission Ratings

Concrete might be an excellent building material option if you are building near busy roadways and are worried about the sound. Concrete has been proven to have better sound transmission ratings when compared to other building materials. It effectively blocks sound transmission over a wide range of frequencies. Concrete also absorbs noise, lowering what people hear inside the building.

The Disadvantages of Precast Concrete Construction

When determining what materials to build with, it is important to know how the pros and cons can affect the outcome of your build project. Just like any other building material, precast concrete does have its disadvantages.

Upfront Costs

One of the main things about precast concrete that may be viewed as a disadvantage is the initial cost. Precast concrete is more expensive upfront when you compare it to other building materials. This is due to the materials used to create concrete, primarily cement, and the labour required to erect precast panels. However, in the long term, the upfront cost of this building material is offset by your lower operational costs.

Challenging to Transport

Because precast concrete is created off-site in generally large panels, moving them to a construction site can be complicated. The weight of the concrete can damage transportation units, and it is important to keep the panels stable while they are being transported. This means special transportation companies are needed to get precast concrete panels to the construction site.

Large Task to Install

Because of the large size and weight of precast concrete panels, they can be a significant undertaking to install. In most cases, specific pieces of equipment, like mobile cranes, and experienced teams are required to install large pieces of precast concrete. It also involves significant planning and coordination when building with precast concrete. 

Difficult to Make Modifications

Because precast panels are preassembled, it can be challenging to modify a panel if changes are made post-production. Building with precast concrete is like building a puzzle; if the pieces do not fit together perfectly, it can cause issues in the construction process and affect your budget. 


At Stretch Construction, we weigh the design and goals of your building to help determine which building material would be best suited for your project. We are currently doing this analysis for several projects to provide the best results. In addition, we have constructed many buildings using both wood framing and precast concrete. Our team also has several wood and concrete projects on the go. 

If you require more information on wood frame and precast concrete construction techniques for your build project, reach out to our team, and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have. 

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