Concrete VS Wood (Part 2)


For as long as condos have existed, home shoppers have questioned whether they should buy into concrete or wood builds. On the last post, we examined the benefits and shortfalls of concrete high-rises. Here, we’ll flip the script and look into the reasons for and against wood-frame buildings.

Wood: Pros

larger & wider floor plans

More often than not, condo buildings that are constructed with wood are assembled on a larger plot of land. This enables developers to spread the footprint of the building and as a result, create floor plans that are wider. It’s not uncommon for home buyers to feel that these types of properties are more homey and allow for better furniture arrangements.

Cost efficient = better prices

Wood is a lower cost material than concrete. Builders are able to construct with lower costs which results in savings for the consumer. In a market that faces challenges with affordability, wood-frame buildings can provide some relief from this. Most newer wood buildings also feature a thin layer of concrete in between floors to assist with sturdiness and noise insulation.

Fewer neighbours

You’ll very rarely come across wood-frame buildings that feature over 100 homes. Most are under this mark, which means you’re sharing your common areas such as the parkade, elevators, and amenity rooms with fewer people.

Wood: Cons

noise transference

Although this has improved with time and newer building technology, noise transfer between homes is more noticeable with wood construction. Homes are primarily affected by the units directly above them. Most bylaws specify that certain rooms or a portion of wood frame homes are covered with carpet and noise-insulating underlay to mitigate this issue.

susceptible to weathering

Over time, wood will wear down faster than concrete. This isn’t to say that you’ll see a wood-frame building leaking after a couple of harsh winters. If a wood constructed building is developed with care, it may be decades before weathering takes its effect. Inevitably though, with wood being a softer material, the rainy climate of British Columbia can take its toll.

pests, Fire, and erosion

Again, this is something that has improved with time, but forces of nature such as insects and soil can erode wood at a quicker pace than concrete. Construction technology has improved and shown us how to chemically treat wood to prevent this type of damage. Fire is another concern, especially with older wood buildings. There are mechanisms in place to isolate and reduce the spread of fire in newer builds, but ultimately this disaster will cause more harm on wood-frame construction.

The Future of Wood

At one point, wood-frame construction was only permitted to go up to four storeys in the Lower Mainland. More recently, you’ll notice that a number of wood-frame buildings have been green-lit for six storeys. What gives? Fibre cement, or commercially known as ‘Hardie Board’ is a composite material that developers have been using for the siding of these new-age wood buildings. This product adds durability and strength to these buildings, hence allowing them additional leeway in height.

Many British Columbians have also read about the eighteen storey wood-frame tower at the University of British Columbia. This project features a combination of concrete cores and ‘cross-laminated timber’ (CLT) floors. CLT is a new technology that features timber and strong adhesives. This product has shown excellent durability, sustainability, and even significantly greater fire resistance. As development progresses, we can expect to see more of this enter our marketplace.

That’s all for the Concrete VS Wood posts. I hope you’ve enjoyed and learned something to better guide your decision making when buying a home.

If you have any questions about real estate in the Lower Mainland, you can email me anytime at

Thank you for reading,