Back in 2017, we wrote an article about a study that found concrete masonry to be a less expensive building material than wood. Since that article was written, concrete masonry has only become an even more efficient material with which to build when compared with wood.
The trend of masonry becoming less expensive and wood becoming more expensive has been visible since even before masonry overtook wood as the cheaper of the two options. But after the shutdowns that began in early 2020 due to the pandemic, masonry began to far outcompete wood in part because the industry was able to keep up with the demand for new construction.
Upfront Cost of Wood Increased in 2020
The price of wood has been slowly increasing each year, but in 2020 it experienced a dramatic jump due in large part to the pandemic. At one point, prices were 160% higher than at the start of the year, but they eventually settled at 120% by the end of 2020. These price increases can be attributed to delays in every step of the wood manufacturing and distribution pipeline. When the pandemic hit, wood mills laid off employees, which led to a decline in lumber production.
With production severely reduced, lumber transport companies also laid off drivers. This compounded the problem when demanded increased again and it came time to restart manufacturing and distribution. It takes time to bring workers back and get up to speed. These delays can’t be avoided regardless of how much demand there is for lumber.
Concrete masonry costs have increased over years as well. However, masonry prices have not increased as much as the price of wood, which is what led wood to become the more expensive of the two. And, masonry prices didn’t spike in the same way wood prices did once the pandemic hit and caused shutdowns.
Concrete Masonry Saves Money in the Long Term
Not only is concrete masonry less expensive than wood upfront right now, but it saves money in the long term as well. Masonry structures can last 2-3 times longer than their wooden counterparts. It also requires less maintenance to keep it in good condition. So even if the upfront price of wood returns to being below that of masonry, the longevity of concrete masonry will make up for it.
Additionally, concrete masonry construction saves costs thanks to the fact that it reduces the need for heating and cooling. Concrete is an excellent material when it comes to insulating against exterior temperatures. It keeps interiors warm during the winter months and cool during the summer months. The larger the building, the more it can benefit from concrete masonry’s insulative properties.
On top of all that, concrete masonry structures tend to have lower insurance costs than wooden ones. This includes builder’s risk insurance, commercial property insurance, homeowner’s insurance, etc. Insurance costs associated with masonry buildings tend to simply be lower across the board for all parties involved.
Is Concrete Masonry or Wood a Safer Building Material?
The lower insurance costs of concrete masonry construction are primarily due to the increased safety of the building material when compared to wood. You might expect that masonry wouldn’t necessarily be safer due to its weight. If a masonry structure were to collapse, it would cause much more damage and harm than a wooden structure. But, concrete masonry is far more durable than wood, so a collapse is less likely to happen.
The big safety benefit when it comes to masonry, though, is that it’s far more fireproof than wood. If a fire were to break out, the extent of the damage would be vastly reduced in a concrete masonry structure. The fire wouldn’t be able to spread as far or as quickly, and it would be less likely to compromise the integrity of the structure as well. In addition to fire resistance, concrete masonry is also less susceptible to other natural dangers, such as storms with high winds, water damage leading to mold and rot, insect burrowing, and more.
When most people think of building safety, they think of how safe a building is once it’s complete. But that’s only part of the safety story. Collapses and fires are just as, if not more, likely to happen during construction when the structure isn’t yet complete. For this reason, many builders are choosing to work with masonry over wood when possible.
Over the past few years, lumber prices have been increasing at a faster rate than those of concrete masonry. And in 2020, the price of lumber skyrocketed while masonry prices remained relatively the same as they were before the pandemic. Thanks to this, masonry not only saves money in the long term by being a more durable and resistant building material but is also cheaper to purchase in the short term as well. On top of the financial benefits of using masonry for new construction projects, there are safety benefits when compared to wood. Most notably, concrete masonry is far more fire-resistant than wood, making it safer for both builders and residents.
Fizzano Brothers Concrete Products
Fizzano Brothers is your local supplier of concrete masonry building materials. We have been providing masonry products to our customers in the Mid-Atlantic region since 1935. Our experienced sales staff is always available to answer any questions involving concrete masonry or hardscape construction. Contact us today!