Wood Frame vs. Masonry Construction: Which Is Better?

Wood Frame vs. Masonry Construction: Which Is Better?

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If you are building a house, a shed, or anything in between, one of the main considerations that you need to keep in mind is what you are actually going to build the main component of it out of. Generally speaking, there are two main ways to construct a building, and these include using a wood frame and masonry construction.

Sure, both result in a sound structure, but the methods used do have different features, benefits, and drawbacks. Let’s figure out what the differences between wood frame construction and masonry construction are, so you can make an informed decision between the two.

Wood Frame and Masonry Construction: The Basics

Before we get into talking about the similarities shared between the two, as well as the differences between them, let’s first figure out what both of them actually are.

What Is Wood Frame Construction?

As you might be able to tell by the name of it, a wood frame construction simply involves using wood to create the frame of a house or small building. Generally speaking, high-quality hardwood is used for wood frame constructions, but lower quality wood may also be used at certain times. Wood frame construction has been around for a very long time simply because trees have always been around.

Real wood is an abundant building material that can be found virtually anywhere and is very easy to work with. Sure, wood does have its problems such as insect infestations, susceptibility to moisture, and susceptibility to combustion, but nonetheless, it is still a very popular option, especially for small and medium-sized homes as well, as for other smaller buildings.

What Is Masonry Construction?

On the other hand, the other type of construction that you might want to go with for the frame of your home is masonry construction, which in this case might consist of brick, stone, or concrete. It is important to keep in mind that there are various differences between brick, stone, and concrete masonry construction, but generally speaking, they are all quite similar, especially when compared to wood frame construction.

Masonry is of course heavy and it needs to be joined together by mortar, but that said it does have various advantages such as fire resistance and moisture resistance. This is one of the main reasons why it is often used for large buildings such as apartments complexes and skyscrapers.

Wood Frame vs. Masonry Construction: What Are Their Differences?

OK, so usually when it comes to a comparison like this, we would generally talk about both similarities and differences. But that being said, besides the fact that both masonry and wood can be used for the construction of house and building frames, the simple reality is that they really don’t share any similarities.

Therefore, for the purposes of this article, we are going to be focusing on the differences between the two.

1. Masonry Isn’t Combustible

One of the biggest advantages that masonry has over wood construction is that it’s just not combustible. You just can’t light a brick or a piece of stone on fire like you can a piece of wood and therefore buildings that feature masonry constructions are much more fire-resistant than wood frame construction buildings.

2. Masonry Doesn’t Rot

Another disadvantage that wood frame construction suffers from is that wood rots. Now, high-quality wood is moisture resistant and even more so if it has been specially treated, but with that being said, there is no amount of treatment that can stop wood from rotting indefinitely. Eventually, sooner or later, wood will rot. Brick, stone, and concrete just don’t rot. Rocks are not organic and therefore cannot decompose.

3. Insects Don’t Eat Masonry

Another disadvantage that homes made with wood frame construction suffer from is that insects such as ants and termites can actually eat the wood and cause severe structural damage. Insects do not eat masonry, therefore meaning that masonry construction is not susceptible to insect damage.

4. Masonry Is Extreme Weather Resistant

When it comes to extreme weather, especially strong winds caused by hurricanes and tornadoes, masonry construction, especially when it has been reinforced, is much more able to withstand those forces of nature than wooden structures are.

5. Masonry Is Stronger and Lasts Longer

When it comes down to it, masonry, no matter if we are talking about brick, stone, concrete, or anything in between, is just much stronger and more durable than wood. Masonry can withstand a lot more pressure and bear much more weight than your average piece of wood, thus making masonry construction buildings much stronger than wood frame buildings.

6. Masonry Is Cheaper Than Solid Lumber

The simple reality here is that masonry is actually much cheaper than wood frame constructions. Real and solid timber is extremely expensive and the price of it is only going up as time goes on.

7. General Applications

Another difference to consider here is that although masonry construction can be used for smaller sheds, buildings, and small houses, generally speaking, it is reserved for larger buildings, whereas wood frame construction is usually used for smaller sheds and houses.

8. Masonry Absolutely Needs a Solid Foundation

Something that does need to be said about masonry is that it requires a very solid and well-built foundation underneath, or else the whole thing will crumble. Of course, having a solid foundation underneath a wood frame construction is beneficial as well, but it’s not quite as important as for masonry.

9. Masonry Cannot Be Done in Inclement Weather

You can always hammer nails into wood no matter the weather, but with masonry where there is mortar and cement involved, it needs to be dry and relatively warm. You can’t work with masonry in the freezing rain.

10. Masonry Takes Longer to Work With

Due to the fact that when you are working with masonry you need to use mortar in order to join the separate pieces. It takes a lot longer for construction to be completed because mortar can take up to 28 days to fully cure.

Which of the Two Is Better?

When it comes down to it, masonry is undoubtedly the better building material due to its increased fire resistance, weather resistance, rot resistance, moisture resistance, insect resistance, and overall strength. With that being said, there is just nothing that beats the natural aesthetic and beautiful appearance of real wood. The difference here is functionality versus beauty.

Summary

The bottom line here is that both wood and masonry are fine building materials to choose from, but which one you go with really depends on what your primary purposes are and what your application is.