Tilt-Up VS Wood Construction

Building Systems Compared: Wood Construction vs. Tilt-Up Construction


Wood construction has been an essential building material for centuries – timber homes were first built over 10,000 years ago. In contrast, tilt-up construction was developed around 1905 and has had less time to build an equally strong reputation. One might assume that wood construction is the best option because it has been around the longest. However, a comparison of tilt-up and wood reveals that tilt-up may actually be the best choice.

Tilt-up is more cost-effective

Builders turn to wood because it’s cheap – it’s a natural resource and it’s readily available. But there’s more to consider than the initial cost. First, lumber prices are affected by supply and demand. Even if lumber seems cheaper, the price can fluctuate based on factors like bad weather or national home building trends. Lumber prices are also impacted by international tariffs.

Concrete is produced locally. Thus, it’s not subject to tariffs, and its price remains relatively steady and easy to predict. Tilt-up construction also requires fewer materials and fewer labour hours than wood construction.

Wood construction also isn’t very energy-efficient. An owner of a wood-framed home or building will likely pay more in energy costs over time. Concrete actually cuts energy emissions by an estimated 30%.

In comparing the costs of concrete and wood, concrete reigns supreme with less volatile pricing, cheaper construction costs, and lower energy costs over time.

Tilt-up is safer and more durable

Wood-framed structures require a lot of maintenance as they age. They’re susceptible to factors like moisture, mold, termite infestation, swelling, and shrinking. In fact, wood structures are almost certain to experience damage at some point in their lifetime. The threat of damage leads to quicker structural depreciation and shorter lifespans.

Concrete buildings are not vulnerable to the same issues. Concrete can withstand natural disasters and weather events, and it has better fire resistance. Again, when comparing tilt-up vs. wood construction, tilt-up comes out on top.

Tilt-up enables shorter project timeframes

It’s important to note that construction schedules are ultimately dependent on a number of factors, including weather conditions and the complexity of the building plans. However, on average, tilt-up construction is faster than wood construction. The wall panels are assembled using a crane, electrical and plumbing can be embedded in the concrete. These steps streamline the process and shave time off the construction schedule.

Wood-framed buildings are a different story. The wood has to be cut/assembled by hand, and specialty trades are called in for electrical, plumbing, drywalling, cladding and insulation. The resulting process can take twice as long.

Tilt-up construction is more sustainable

Over time, concrete reduces energy use and heating and cooling expenses because its thermal mass helps maintain internal temperatures. Concrete is also made with limestone, which is one of the most abundant minerals on the planet. And tilt-up construction results in less waste than wood construction. (Wood framing is cut by hand onsite, which results in human error and scrap waste.)

In comparing tilt-up with wood construction, tilt-up is the clear choice. It’s more cost-effective, it’s safer and more durable, it reduces project timeframes and it’s more sustainable. For your next project, use tilt-up construction for a reliable structure with lasting value.

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