When you're putting your house plans together, you'll have a lot of choices to make. Do you want to buy resale or build new? Where should your land be? Will you have one storey or two? Do you need a garage? What kind of heating system will you spring for? Are you going to frame the house with wood or metal? It's this last choice that we will look at today. Each material has its strengths and weaknesses, so before you allow yourself to be swayed by one contractor or another, be sure you do your research.
Wood is the more traditional choice for framing a home. Home builders have been using it for hundreds of years, and not just because it was convenient. Wood is very sturdy, forming a solid, rigid frame that will allow you to hang heavy shelving and mirrors in your home without worrying about buckling. Wood is also cheaper and easier to run your electrical through, as it does not conduct electricity, and it provides a better barrier between you and the cold outside. On the environmental side, wood is renewable and biodegradable.
However, wood does have its drawbacks. Wood is heavy, harder to cut, and less forgiving when rookie DIYers make mistakes. You also have to be careful when purchasing your studs to make sure that they are not warped from spending too much time at the lumber yard or your will have bowed walls. Wood also absorbs moisture inside your walls, which can leave you with mold and mildew problems, and is vulnerable to damage from fire and insects such as ants and termites.
Metal studs are a much newer and trendier way to construct the interior walls in your home. Metal studs are lighter and thinner, which allows even the wimpiest DIYer to bring them home from the store, meaning you may not have to hire deck builders to get this job done. You can cut metal easily with snips and reposition your studs should you discover you've done it wrong. Metal is impenetrable to insects, impervious to fire, and recyclable, so the longevity factor with metal studs is high.
Metal isn't a perfect material, however. Many builders must use a higher grade of steel than the kind you can buy at the hardware store because otherwise the wall is not strong enough to support heavy hanging objects like shelves and plasma TVs. Cutting metal can also slice your hands and it's more difficult and dangerous to wire. Metal studs are also vulnerable to rust and tend to allow more cold air from outside into your home than wooden ones.